Large mural at Chennai train station raises AIDS awareness

Large mural at Chennai train station raises AIDS awareness

By Bureau M4G – February 11, 2021

We Are ‘is an initiative of the St + art India Foundation & Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society (TANSACS) with Asian Paints to break the stigma around AIDS through a powerful and artistic symbol of solidarity

The St + art India Foundation, TANSACS, Tidel Park and Southern Railway have come together to create India’s largest mural titled ‘We Are’. Artistic work supported by Asian Paints began in December of last year; took about 40 days and covers a vast area of ​​63,000 square feet. It aims to destigmatize the community affected by HIV and AIDS and empower them to take action while sharing hopeful stories of survivors.

India has the third largest HIV epidemic in the world. In 2017, the HIV prevalence among adults (aged 15-49) was estimated at 0.2%. This figure is low compared to most other middle-income countries, but due to India’s huge population (1.3 billion people), this equates to 2.1 million people living with HIV. .

The panoramic fresco, titled “We Are”, spreads the message of a shared humanity, of how people suffering from or cured of AIDS deserve equal rights and a place in society. The mural takes this message home by mixing portraits of AIDS patients with those who don’t, showing how human we are all, and the same.

The mural is designed by Chennai-based graffiti artist and street artist A-Kill, as well as Delhi-based Khatra. A-Kill, whose work draws inspiration from the visuals offered by the streets and everyday life, is renowned for his skillful hand in portraiture, and his special connection to Chennai is reflected in this mural. This month-long project will be unveiled at Indira Nagar Station in Chennai.

COVID-19 has shown that during a pandemic, no one is safe until everyone is safe. Leaving people behind is not an option if we are to be successful. With that ideology in mind, this mural reflects the theme of this year’s World AIDS Day, as declared by UNAIDS: “Global Solidarity, Shared Responsibility”. Representing many diverse but familiar faces, the work celebrates these unique identities while reinforcing the idea that there are no physical determinants of AIDS.

The length of the Indira Nagar railway platform is 280 meters. The red ribbon – a recognized symbol of AIDS awareness – can be seen running through the facade of the station, the bright red hue of which represents ideas of love and passion. The continuous flow of this powerful emblem through the station changes its landscape, emphasizes the notion of community and collective responsibility, and cements the station as a landmark of the inclusive spirit of Chennai. The underlying goal is to highlight art as an effective response to global crises and a tool for conveying messages of awareness, feelings of longing or loss, and ideas of hope. The mural depicts the portraits of five individuals, three of whom are HIV positive patients, but who cannot be determined by mere visual appearances.

The reveal will be followed by a short and meaningful community event, where the artists will be joined by people from TNSACS who will write their thoughts on who “they are” on the mural. The symbolic gesture, which will take place upon completion of the mural later this month, will serve to reinforce the idea that people are more than their illnesses.

Amit Syngle, Managing Director and CEO of Asian Paints Limited, says: “At Asian Paints we have always strived to beautify spaces with color. Our association and our partnership with the St + art India Foundation is a step forward in the direction of making art accessible and inclusive, so that it can be appreciated by the greatest number. We were therefore delighted to once again bring our support to a noble cause which aims to destigmatize the social effects of AIDS, with a powerful mural in one of the most important and public places of Chennai, the train station of Chennai. ‘Indira Nagar. We hope this magnificent fresco will have the impact it desires and be appreciated for the striking artistry and message it attempts to convey.

Deepak Jacob IAS, Project Director and TANSACS Member Secretary, noted, “TANSACS, established in 1994, has helped reduce HIV prevalence in Tamil Nadu to 0.18 from the national average of 0.24 according to the latest reports. He said that in order to maintain the downward trend in HIV prevalence in the state, TANSACS is expanding awareness to all sections of society and one such initiative is this ‘mural’ at the heart of the city. Thanking St + art India Foundation, Tidel Park, Southern Railway and Asian Paints for their partnership with TANSACS for this initiative, he said that this mural will be the permanent example of the enabling environment and a symbol of solidarity for people living with HIV in Tamil Nadu. “

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