Photo by Akshat Nauriyal

Alternative culture is the underground — the subversive step-brother of popular culture, catering to a niche audience. All across the world, independent movements in art are taking place — even in our own country. One powerful global movement today is that of street art — using public spaces to display art, make statements; even critique society and the status quo. The public nature of these works make them accessible to everyone — making art truly democratic. Over the past five years, I’ve worked closely with the independent/alternative communities in India as part of my web-based documentary film series “Now Delhi” on emerging sub-cultures. And through my close association with the street art community, I now find myself as a co-founder of India’s largest international street art festival - St+art, organised by the St+art India foundation, a not-for-profit aiming at reinventing public spaces through the medium of urban/street art. The St+art festival is an international street art festival where artists from across the country and the world are invited to paint murals, conduct workshops, screenings, and even an exhibition. The aim of the festival is to alter the visual landscape of the concrete jungle our cities have become and to make them more appealing for the people who use them the most.  The second edition of the st+art festival was held in Mumbai in Nov-Dec 2014 where 40 artists from across the country and the world worked across several areas of the city, including Bandra, Dharavi, Borivali, Kandivali and more. There were over 50 murals painted along with an installation at the Jindal mansion. The festival culminated with the largest mural of the country — a 120 x 150 foot tribute to the father of Indian cinema — Dadasaheb Phalke.

The lanes of Pali Village were one of the first areas of interest for the artist. Phomes (Germany) painted one such lane along with several other German artists.

This is what the lane in Pali Village looked like after the Germans were done with it. Painted by Note, Phomas and Tofu

Indian artist Amitabh Kumar began painting a wall in the Pali Village area, a fairly busy part of Bandra. In the image he is being offered a free of cost website designed by the graphic designers riding the scooty.

Amitabh’s finished piece was a reflection on the constant battle between commerce and tradition in urban settlements such as Bandra — where old houses are having to give way to bars and cafés.

Swiss Artist Tika worked on a mammoth wall in a colony known as “New Friends colony” in Bandra.

Tika painted a gathering of all her favourite animals, titling the piece “New Friends” because of the location as well as the fact that all the animals in the mural were, indeed, new friends.

A lot of the kids participating at the stencil workshop conducted by German artist Tona, held at the Sneha Foundation in Dharavi, also learn Bboying with the Slumgods crew. The workshop eventually turned into an impromptu Bboy battle.

Part of the workshop involved taking the kids to a community toilet in Dharavi to practice their new learnt stencil techniques. Gomez (Italy) decided to paint a mural in the same compound.

German artist BOND painting his piece on a rooftop in Dharavi.

Mumbai-based artist Ranjit Dahiya (Bollywood Art Project) painted the largest mural of the festival. It was a tribute to the father of Indian Cinema — Dadasaheb Phalke.

The mural took 800 litres of paint, 2 boom lifts working over 10 days to finish. At 120 x 150 feet, it is India’s largest mural.

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