Fearless Collective facilitates participatory storytelling to create public art on themes such as gender, sexuality, and identity and how it intersects with various other aspects of life, such as belonging, migration, class, and conflict.
A collective of artists and activists, Fearless was founded by visual artist Shilo Shiv Suleman to “(re)define fear, femininity and what it means to be fearless”.
In 2012, the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old New Delhi medical student stunned India and led to fear mongering that deterred women from entering public spaces. In response, Shilo Shiv Suleman (named by National Geographic as “one of India’s future leaders”) gathered visual artists, filmmakers, street artists, photographers and advocates around the globe to use art to address sexual violence and gender inequality.
From a crowd-sourced collection of artwork by over 400 artists, the Fearless Collective has evolved to become a movement that transforms public spaces through art that is inclusive and collaborative, to replace fear with trust. Affirming beauty in the most unexpected places, Fearless has transformed spaces like gang violence-ridden areas of Pakistan to the earthquake affected areas in Nepal, while preserving the magic of these environments.
Part visual art, part performance art, and wholly participatory storytelling, the Fearless Collective mural process, facilitated by Shilo, is one in which personal, interpersonal, and universal stories are woven together.
Each mural begins with a creating a safe space in which community members delve into their own stories through workshops informed by theatre techniques, art therapy, and ritual. Drawing on the personal narratives of the participants and social / political / cultural stories of the area, the group decides upon the iconography and narrative to be told through the mural. Taking to the street, the collective takes over public space, engaging the attention (and participation) of passer-bys in dialogue and painting to create the Fearless wall. While each mural is specific to it’s location and the community that created it, each mural is based on universal human values.
To see real fearlessness in India… spend some time with Shilo Shiv Suleman.