Indian contemporary artist Shilo Shiv Suleman came into media focus back in 2011, when she was chosen to represent India at TEDGlobal 2011, Scotland, as one of the 3 Pioneering Women in India.
Her talk at TED.com in 2012 was so inspiring that she got just under a million views on her video.
Soon after the 2012’s gang rape incident in Delhi, Shilo started her Fearless (a collective of artists, activists, photographers and filmmakers) campaign to “speak out against gender violence.”
Since then, her campaign has grown and she now has around 400 artists in India that are using community art to protest against gender violence.
According to Shilo, the idea behind the project was to bring stories from a community into public spaces, but it has now evolved into “participative storytelling”. “More than anything, it is about fear and dispelling it.”
Her Fearless campaign has been featured in many documentaries and she was also felicitated with the FEMINA National Women’s Award and the FutureBooks Digital Innovation award in London for her effort.
Recently, Shilo, a resident of Bangalore, took her campaign to Pakistan and painted the streets of Lahore, Rawalpindi, and Karachi with the theme of Fearlessness.
The initiative lasted for over two weeks in which Shilo along with human right activist Nida Mushtaq, drew graffiti on the streets of Rawalpindi, Lyari and Lahore.
After she reached Pakistan, Shilo posted about her initiative on her Facebook page and requested the local artists in Karachi to join her.
Finally ending her expedition last week, Shilo posted about her experience on Facebook, and said:
“This was the last of 6 walls I painted in Pakistan over two weeks, and was the greatest affirmation of fearlessness for me. Over my journey to pakistan, I trespassed layers of warnings of what was ‘safe’ and ‘unsafe’. First, family that had been affected by partition warned me that Pakistan itself was unsafe, then within Pakistan I was warned that Karachi was super unsafe, and within Karachi – I was told that Lyari was an absolute No-Go.”
“As each layer was stepped through, I received more love and more love and more love. On my last day in Lyari, with brushes and ladders held up by the children of Lyari, lines coloured in by the loveliest artist+activist community in Karachi, and pasteup perfection with Nida Mushtaq, I painted this on a ladder carefully balanced on a pile of garbage in a broken building. Safe,” she added.
A day before, she had also posted about her experience of the city of Larari, Karachi and said:
“Lyari is one of Karachi’s oldest fishing villages by the sea. It’s magnificent buildings are jeweled with stories of trading ships from Africa and settlers from across the desert. However, the once treasured Lyari has seen much violence in the recent past. Take a walk around Lyari and you’ll see the painted tags of gangsters of Lyari in between scribbles and drawings by the children of the town, and torture warehouses converted into playgrounds.
“The Fearless Collective’s mural in Lyari explores the idea that we are both constantly ‘playing with our lives’ and playing the game of life simultaneously. Both realities coexist, especially in Lyari where the streets are strewn with snooker tables, portable merry go rounds, but also stories of violence and fear,” she added.