This artist's viral series imagines Kolkata under a curfew lockdown

We catch up with Kolkata artist Sumona Chakravarty who’s Kolkata under curfew series went viral on Instagram  

author_img Ujjainee Roy Published :  20th September 2019 10:05 PM   |   Published :   |  20th September 2019 10:05 PM

Chakravarty depicts a restrictive military infrastructure featuring loudspeakers, bulletproof surveillance booths, cameras and rows after rows of razor barricades

It’s 2019, and it’s impossible to imagine a waking hour or two without Internet or virtual communication - that is, if you’re in Kolkata or any other city. Right after Article 370 was revoked in Kashmir, several reports emerging out of the state suggested that curfew-like restrictions may have been imposed across several parts of Kashmir. Sumona Chakravarty, a Kolkata-based artist who also owns the community art organization Hamdasti, came up with an incredible way to relate to the idea of a functional and restrictive curfew in her own way.

Sumona's #30daysofcurfew series kicked off with this illustration

She tried to imagine Kolkata under lockdown, and elaborated in an Instagram series how a clampdown would affect her life and those around her. The series titled #30daysofcurfew in Kolkata has since then gone viral and has acquired a lot of attention.

"We lay awake reciting a list of worst case scenarios to each other. If this, then what. If the soldiers came at night, then? If we ran out of money then?" writes Sumona

“I was reading a lot about Kashmir, and people were tweeting about the situation relentlessly and I remember I was at home. And I started thinking about how it would feel not having a working phone or Internet, or not being able to go out. And we do so much of our work on the Internet! And I know Kolkata, but I have never visited Kashmir. I started with the artwork for Day 1, Day 2, and so on, and it shaped up like a 30-day challenge, which is a format people are familiar with. It was hard to imagine the whole picture, like you couldn't get groceries and your phone is not working, what is that experience like? So, it started off as a thought experiment," Sumona reveals.

Sumona's artwork imagines how a military clamdown can affect the lives of those around us

Sumona also spoke to people who have actually lived through a curfew in their own city, in Shillong or Sri Lanka. "Every time someone wrote to me, I learnt something new. I started incorporating those details," she tells us. The artwork in #30daysofcurfew series features some realistic imagery depicting the struggle of living under something so uncomfortable.

"The faces of the soldiers posted outside became all too familiar, as we settled into a pointless daily routine of visiting the police station, walking up and down our street," writes Sumona

For instance, for Day 10, Sumona drew empty glass tumblers on a kitchen sill to represent the lack of basic utilities like rice, biscuits, oats. The artist tells us that she is also planning a dialogue series based on the theme, and is planning a few interactional events and open discussion sessions.