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Kolkata queer art gets ‘elevated’ by 80-foot-tall mural celebrating trans men

A team of queer and trans artists came together to create a vibrant artwork celebrating trans lives, on the wall of Offbeat CCU on EM Bypass

Agnideb Bandyopadhyay | Published 13.09.23, 05:23 PM
The mural on the walls of Offbeat CCU, on the EM Bypass, showcases the spectrum of trans masculine reality

The mural on the walls of Offbeat CCU, on the EM Bypass, showcases the spectrum of trans masculine reality

All photos courtesy Offbeat CCU

The walls of Offbeat CCU in Topsia stand tall with splashes of colour and a statement made with art. The new, 80-foot-tall mural on its walls is grabbing the eyes of everyone travelling along the EM Bypass in Kolkata. Curated by Fearless Collective, and painted by a team of queer and trans artists, the mural was born from the idea of redefining masculinity — showing that masculinity can be diverse, nurturing, caring, and collaborative.

Fearless Collective, a group that believes in the transformative power of art, has collaborated with artists across the world, in producing public art that bridges the chasm between fear and love, and recently unveiled its latest offering in Kolkata. The mural, envisioned and led by artist Nandini Moitra, who identifies as queer, is a brave gesture towards challenging and reshaping the narrative surrounding masculinity and trans men.

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The team of artists with (centre, in black) Meghdut Roy Chowdhury, founder and chief curator of Offbeat CCU and (fourth from right) artist Nandini Moitra

The team of artists with (centre, in black) Meghdut Roy Chowdhury, founder and chief curator of Offbeat CCU and (fourth from right) artist Nandini Moitra

Encapsulating Kolkata’s artistic and cultural heritage, this first-of-its-kind mural in the city spotlights an important narrative of the trans community defying static perceptions surrounding masculinity and heteronormativity. “We create evidence of our own existence. It’s about the writing on the wall, as we have been systematically erased by the populist narrative,” said Moitra.

The team behind the mural, headed by Moitra, are all trans men themselves. The work of art has been mounted by Moitra with the city’s local trans community, and stands as a testimony to queer expression and artistic inclusivity. For Moitra — who co-established Amra Odbhut, a trans art collective and community centre in Kolkata in 2017, and has been a Fearless ambassador since 2021 — it is always about ensuring a safe space for the queer community.

The team of people who worked on the mural are all from Kolkata’s trans community

The team of people who worked on the mural are all from Kolkata’s trans community

Arpit and Akash, both 33 and trans men, spoke about the vision that the mural was built on and the magnitude of the work. Arpit, talking about his newfound passion, said, “I never realised I could convey my feelings through painting.” For Akash, the mural was their “silent protest”. Talking about the artwork, he said, “Its size vocalises our feelings about trans masculinity, giving voice to one of the most underrepresented communities globally.”

Meghdut Roy Chowdhury, founder and chief curator of Offbeat CCU, said he offered the walls of Offbeat CCU for the artwork not just for decoration, but to elevate. “Each brushstroke tells a story of resilience, of transcending boundaries, and of the infinite spectrum of human existence. The trans cause is not just a movement, it’s a testament to the indomitable spirit of those who refuse to be defined by societal norms. These walls now stand as a living testament to our shared commitment to inclusion, diversity, and a world where everyone can express their true selves without fear or judgement,” he added.

Last updated on 13.09.23, 06:46 PM
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