Arts and culture

Of Morphed Spaces, Painted Revolutions and Messages on the Wall: Street Art India Foundation’s Exhibition at ICD, TKD


14 Feb 2016: The laughing face of a three-metre, rainbow-splattered, paintbrush-holding child peered down over Tughlakabad’s Inland Container Depot alongside the words “The revolution will be painted.”

The largest dry port in Asia has now been transformed into a stunning display of public art by Street Art India Foundation (St+Art). Here, visitors can appreciate masterful works of art, meet the artists, attend live performances, tour the exhibition-space, and participate in rotating workshops. The exhibition-space consists of 100 massive storage containers creatively stacked into five islands, featuring street art both inside and out by 22 different artists. 11 of the artists are Indian and 11 are international, reflecting the merger of different worlds that this installation exemplifies.

The closest landmark to ICD, TKD is the garbage landfill in Okhla Phase I. Pierre Guyot, architect of the space, explained that the remoteness and bad reputation of the depot was precisely why they were drawn to the area. The disparities in living and working conditions in India are so extreme that the organisers of St+Art India particularly wanted to engage the public in this lesser-known aspect of Delhi life. In so doing, the project emphasizes the need to foster a synergy between art and the common people.

Against the backdrop of such stunning visuals were talks, video screenings, and performances which transformed the space into an artistic oasis of all mediums. “I am a popcorn,” smiled spoken word artist Divya. “I burst into irregularly shaped puffs when heated. Just kidding–I am a person, not a corn. I burst into irregularly shaped words when shaken.” So began a series of moving spoken word and musical performances by members of the non-profit “Performers’ Consortium,” a collective of Indian performance artists initiated by Divya and Sriram in early February.


Performers’ Consortium co-founder Divya recites poetry to a transfixed crowd.


“Forget climbing the ladder to success, here everything is a horizontal patience test”, mused Aina Singh in her poem “Welcome to Delhi” before launching into a moving narrative of the disparities of mobility, gender, and fear that can cripple newcomers to this city.

Last Sunday was Performers’ Consortium’s first official show and they will continue to perform at St+Art India on the upcoming two Saturdays. While the exhibit in ICD, TKD only continues through the end of February, Street Art India Foundation is conducting a similar project in Lodhi Colony which will remain as a permanent art exhibit of the district henceforth. The project is expected to transform Lodhi into a recognised hub of public art in the spirit of cities like Berlin, Paris, and New York City.


“Breathe” by Daku was created entirely with “Kaal Ink”, which is made from a combination of industrial exhaust and absorbs their toxic particles. Learn more at

According to Guyot, it is as of yet undetermined what will happen with the shipping containers once the exhibit ends at the end of February. One of the only stipulations for artists was that they must not alter or damage the containers in any way, to ensure reusability. An option under discussion is to line them up in trains in creative arrangements, to be used as functional shipping containers. Here’s hoping that in the days to come, the streets of Delhi will be sprinkled with powerful fragments of imagination!

The space is open from Thursdays to Sundays from 12pm-7pm for the rest of February. Entry is free and special events take place on weekends, including interactive street art workshops and performances by Performers’ Consortium which usually happen on Saturday afternoons. To learn more about this exhibit, visit To learn more about Performers’ Consortium within and beyond the street art festival, follow their updates at

Sibel Guner and Gundula Haage are GSP students in CSSS and work for The Informer.