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missing public art project

June 7 2017 | Blog

Two of the things we are passionate about at Hope & Fortune are tackling child sexual exploitation and the power of art to create social change. So when we heard about 'MISSING' a public art project started in India by artist Leena Kejriwal we got very excited and contacted them to see how we could get involved. 

We were honoured that Leena took some time out of her busy day to answer our questions and to tell us about herself and the project

Tell us about the scale of the problem in India and worldwide.

Presently, there are 3 million prostituted women in India, out of which 1.2 million are young girls. The average age of recruitment of girls into prostitution is between 9 and 12 years of age. As an artist, I strongly felt that it was time to communicate this important issue in a non-preachy, interactive and eye-catching way so that the general public sits up and takes notice.

Ending the demand is the only way out. It’s all about the economics in a field like sex trafficking. The profits are so high in this field and that is only because of the demand-supply politics. The Missing art and activism campaign is to make people realize that they cannot ignore the girl standing on the streets. Where has she come from? How did she get there? And accept that we are all responsible for perpetrating the crime and are in it together in our own passive ways, even if not watching pornography or buying sex.

Tell us about you and what inspired you to start this wonderful project.

My journey as a photographer led me to spaces that I would otherwise never have ventured into, such as the red light districts of my city, Kolkata. When you see young girls standing on the streets with fidgeting hands and darting eyes, the intense pain that a female is subjected to, just in her physical vulnerability was heart wrenching!

The issue slowly came to the fore front in all my works. And i choose to work on a Public art project for this in particular to make the masses sit up and take notice. There is lesser knowledge about it in a country like ours, there is a lot to be done.

What do this haunting installations/silhouettes symbolise?

The work is comprised of larger-than-life black silhouettes of young girls placed against the sky. Constructed from iron and fiber glass and painted pitch black, they look like sharp holes cut out into the sky, into which millions of girls are disappear from the face of the earth. These serve as a constant reminder of the young girls who have vanished into thin air. We hope that these powerful silhouettes generate curiosity, recognition and a deep sense of loss, urging people to act to save girls who have been disappeared or denied justice.

I read somewhere that Kolkata has been called the "City of Furious, Creative Energy" and has a tradition of political graffiti, would you agree?

Kolkata has its share of creativity. And it has been home to some amazing political graffiti in the past mainly during the CPI(M) era. Not recently though..would like to see more cutting edge stuff here.

Tell us about the Wishberry campaign and the App.

We succeeded in our crowdfunding campaign on Wishberry last year. The idea of that was to engage the public right from the start and the crowdfunfding helped engage the crowds and make them be a part from the onset. We raised Rs 16 lakhs for the project, which was no easy task. All the details can be found at www.wishberry.in/campaign/missing That itself was really overwhelming because we’ve had people from all over the world responding to us and contributing.

MISSING also has an App. We have zeroed in on making an interactive game app. It is under the genre of " Games for Causes". The game is a roleplay and we hope to make the player get under the skin of the main protagonist and generate awareness on the issue through it. It becomes a virtual layer on the physical campaign. The first trailer will be out soon. You can take a look at the App here.

Can people still donate? How can people help?

Yes. We are currently creating a Missing website that will contain images of all of our work so far, while also serving as a platform to educate people about sex trafficking, to help them understand its complexity and gravity. It will include links to petitions, volunteering opportunities and the chance to support us by donating.

If women ruled the world? (This is our signature question that we will be asking everyone who has agreed to feature on the blog.)

We would have equality! At the moment, half the population of the world lives in hidden subjugation, tied by invisible threads of patriarchy, We are but only protesting the tip of the iceberg, when and where patriarchy raises it ugly head to physically harm and assault the feminine. But this is still similar to just grazing the weeds not uprooting them! The ugly seed of the superiority of masculine race, is so deeply ingrained in society that it is shaken and weeded out from its very roots.

 

 

 

They have a powerful instagram campaign @missingirls featuring spray painted stencils of the silhouettes and team H&F started spreading awareness in London this week.

Take a look at their website - www.savemissinggirls.com

You too can get involved if you want to, email them at missingpublicartproject@gmail.com and they will send you templates of the stencil so you can start to spread awareness wherever you are in the world.

You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

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