The justice league: A campaign on cards

In today’s time, the term social justice is being used quite often.

Published: 22nd September 2021 06:31 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd September 2021 06:31 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

CHENNAI: In today’s time, the term social justice is being used quite often. While it’s a refreshing change, how many of us — those who aren’t from political or law backgrounds — know its real meaning?” asks Priyanka Ulaganathan of Revamp by Aaval-The Postcard Project. In an attempt to spread the tenets of social justice, which forms an important layer of Tamil Nadu and its politics, and to explore the thoughts of the leaders who sowed its idea, the creative, along with artists Hasif Khan, Shajan, Jainth and creators Vishnupriya and Shivaram, has curated a postcard campaign.

The postcard series aims to tap on the power of art to challenge issues, move people and bring about social change. “The idea is to take forward the need for social justice in the current day context, through postcards. People can buy the cards, write what social justice means to them and send it out or keep them as a reminder,” she shares.

Self-respect, equality and rationalism. From reimagined artworks, imageries treading on surrealism to those that tap on pop culture — the creatives let us in on how they want to make a real-world social impact through their works. Set of 12 cards (3 of each)  `175. Set of 24 (6 of each) costs `350. Cards will be delivered in 5-7 days. To order, visit Instagram @revamp_by_aaval or WhatsApp 9345372520

Vishnupriya Nanjappan & Shivaram SR, creators of My Dear Manorama
Instagram @My.Dear.Manorama
The artist’s tale

‘What are Tamil memes without Vadivelu?’, ‘Where are art memes in our regional context?’, ‘Why aren’t there enough regional memes with a universal approach?’ Such questions led agriculture and Viscom graduates Vishnupriya and Shivaram to start a page on Instagram last year. Named My Dear Manorama, the page has been starting dialogues around topics of social importance.

Journey to justice
My Dear Manorama in its contribution to the postcard series features an image of Aringnar Anna. “If he had felt that politics wasn’t important then, what the social justice the leaders before him imagined would have remained theoretical and not become mainstream. Anna too needs to be celebrated. So, we chose to pick his image and superimposed it with a quote by him that is relevant,” says Vishnupriya.

What is social justice?
“Social justice, to me, is equal rights and opportunities. Women representation is important and achieving that is social justice.”

Hasif Khan, artist-cartoonist
Instagram: @hasifkhan
The artist’s tale

“A lot of my curiosity in the art field stemmed from my observations of a close childhood friend, who used to create wonderful art. That sparked something in me. And being an introvert, art helped me carve a space for myself…it was the tool, rather the key to solitude,” shares artist Hasif Khan, who has also been the cartoonist for Tamil magazine, Vikatan, for a decade now.

Journey to justice
For the postcard series, Hasif has rendered the image of social activist and politician Periyar EV Ramasamy in a different light. “I was working on a series of artworks which primarily had the colours red, black and white in its palette and it was an exploration of the surrealism art movement. When Priyanka approached me for the project, I decided to create an artwork of Periyar that was beyond what we had already seen,” shares Hasif. His creation features Periyar in a reimagined surreal space. “The spark came from a suggestion that Priyanka offered. Though I had initial inhibitions, the creation process was enjoyable and the work too was well-received,” he shares, adding that he hopes to advocate ideas of social justice through his creations.

What is social justice?
“There should be no discrimination. People who have been oppressed should be guided, should be made aware that their marginalisation isn’t the norm. They should be brought out of their oppression. This education, and breaking this discrimination, are social justice to me.”

Jainth, artist
Instagram @Jainth_ & @nirami.colourization
The artist’s tale

A media student, Jainth, had been running a YouTube channel along with a group of friends and producing videos until he hit a roadblock in 2020 when the nationwide lockdown was announced. “We couldn’t continue our work. So, I was thinking of other ways and modes to put my work out,” he recalls. While photo colourisation had always interested him, lack of time kept him away from dabbling with the laborious process. “When the lockdown was announced, I was presented with an abundance of free time. And my journey began,” narrates the creative, who, over the years has built an affinity towards Dravidian ideologies.

Journey to justice
When he stepped into the world of photo colourisation, he took the images of leaders who sowed, nurtured and took forward the legacy of social justice in the state. “The colourised image that has found a place in this postcard series is one of my favourites,” he says, pointing to the photograph of Periyar, smiling under his silver beard while holding a baby in his arms. “When I posted this photo, many reached out to me and said that it brought them closer to Periyar and his ideas. It broke a certain barrier that the label of being a leader carried. It was an allegory – he was one among us,” he shares. Now, colourisation has become a medium of communication for the creator. “Along with the images, I share historic tidbits about the people, events or the ideologies. It has become a medium where ideas are shared and conversations happen without prejudices,” he says.

What is social justice?
“Anything that breaks patriarchal ideas, supports the marginalised/ minorities and amplifies the voices of the oppressed, aims for equality  is social justice to me.”

Shajan, artist
Instagram @shajan_kafka
The artist’s tale

“Kalai makkalukanadhu (Art is for the people),” begins Shajan, an aspiring filmmaker. “So, to reach my goal, the resources I tapped into and the content I consumed were always political. While pencil sketches have always been part of my life, about two years back, I began digitally rendering them. The products of my art became a fusion of the ideologies that I read and grew up with and my art, which is personal,” he shares. The idea, Shajan says is to take an idea and present it in a novel way for it to reach the masses.

Journey to justice
“The idea was to discuss social justice and take it to people. But there was another underlying theme – to take the work of artists to the public through the illustrated cards and add value to it. Namma oorle, kalai, kalaingnar-galukkaana value kami ah dhan irukku. There is also this thought – ‘Why buy art?’ So through this series, while discussing social justice, we are also taking art to people and this art has the ideas and philosophies which people need,” he explains. Shajan’s artwork for this features a contemporary interpretation of a picture from the 1950s — of Ambedkar and Periyar in Rangoon for The World Buddhist Conference. “I have been working on a series which fuses names of shows and movies, popular quotes and their imageries with political commentaries and ideologies. This too was in line with that. This image is a beacon of hope that they will always be there whenever and wherever there is oppression and injustice,” he details.  

What is social justice?
“Equality in all forms and systems is social justice to me. One’s identity, language, social and cultural ethos should not be detrimental to anyone’s place in society.”


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