Lyari has a top of mind recall for various reasons. Street Art is certainly not one of those.
Shilo Shiv Suleman, an Indian Artist started Fearless Collective in 2012 after shocking gang-rape of a medical student in Delhi. Many saw the resulting fear in women as a deterrent to their entry in public spaces. To the other side of the border, in Karachi and other cities of Pakistan, situation is not very different. This similarity in attitudes and ‘inherited’ fears led to a collaboration between Nida Mushtaq, Pakistani rights activist and Suleman which resulted in some original street art in Khoja Street of Lyari.
It was Sunday morning and I expected little traffic but found myself driving at a pace slower than a herd of snails traveling through peanut butter. We chose the wrong road, said a friend sitting at the back. Turned out that we were driving through Khadda Market in Lyari which sprung to life on a Sunday morning in shape of a bustling flea market which was setup on footpaths and the green belt with women and kids jumping from one stall to another, ignoring all the honking by the desperate bikers and motorists speeding at the cue of little space created anywhere in the street.
We found our way nonetheless. No body knew where Khoja street was so look for Vocational training center near Khadda Market if you plan to visit. We could see a mural painted from distance but it has withered away already. There was a garbage heap underneath and kids were playing on it. We turned back to find more murals and found few in adjacent street. People noticed our inquisitiveness and gathered around us. Someone told me that the kids have spoiled some of the murals. The most colorful mural is painted on front of a shop in the street but sadly some part – possibly painted using some other technique – of it has been lost already.
The murals were designed in collaboration with the locals with residents of the area pitching their ideas and kids helping artists in painting the walls. The kids and elders fondly remembered the artists and wished that they could preserve their gift to the neighborhood for a longer time.