Guerrilla art

You wouldn’t expect a sign for a toilet to be a piece of art but this mischievous piece that I saw on a wall in Fort Kochi brought a smile to my face. Just to eliminate other possibilities (“awful pun,” The Family assured me) I looked for the toilet, and it wasn’t there, This piece was exactly what I thought it was: a piece of deliberate fun. Not Guerrilla art really, more Guerrilla cartoon.

But Kochi does bring together two of its main cultural obsessions, politics and art, into true Guerrilla art. Who or what is Guess Who? Is it a person, or a collective? The style could be a single person’s, and the wit behind its political satire is evident. I could laugh out loud at the construction of a phallic symbol for censorship. The juxtaposition of an enormous mosquito and a comment on news could be interpreted as straight out Guerrilla art or as culture jamming, if you consider how TV news is now a brand, pitched at finely sliced audiences.

Some of the other pieces occupy a space between Guerrilla art and straight out graffiti. With so much energy on display, the underground art scene in Fort Kochi seems to be in great shape. Art of this kind is utterly ephemeral, so between the time you see this and you visit Kochi, the pieces will have changed completely. I hope a curator somewhere is putting together a web site of this most ephemeral of media.

I finally leave you with a piece of street art, not in the sense that it takes now, but in a more ancient sense. Once, the street truly belonged to the community living there. Its look and feel determined by local aesthetics. This little decorative panel, hidden between layers of posters is an earlier form of street art, with a longer life.

By I. J. Khanewala

I travel on work. When that gets too tiring then I relax by travelling for holidays. The holidays are pretty hectic, so I need to unwind by getting back home. But that means work.


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