sassoon docks art project transforms old port into street art hub

December 07, 2017

words by: Bere Wangge

At 142 years old, Sassoon Dock is one of Mumbai’s oldest fish ports. And now, it’s also the most beautiful one, thanks to St+Art India, a foundation that aims to make the streets in India more interactive by organizing urban art festivals across the country.

From November 11 to December 30, St+Art India has been working on their latest project, which sees them conducting a makeover on Sassoon Dock. In the Sassoon Docks Art Project, St+Art India invites more than 40 artists from India and other countries to transform the dock into a street art hub. Today, a whiff of the sea is no longer the only thing people will catch when visiting Sassoon Dock; instead, now they get to enjoy outdoor art installations and vibrant murals, too!

While different in sizes and materials, the artworks share the same theme of life in Sassoon Dock. Some artists put their focus on the people, especially the women. One such artist is photographer Akshat Nauriyal. After discovering that the micro economy of the dock is predominated by the Kolis, the Banjaras and the Hindu Marathas, he was determined to shine a light on them. Together with the Inside Out Project, Nauriyal then took 350 portraits of the fishermen and women communities of Sassoon Dock, and plastered them on the walls for everyone to see.

Inside Out  by Akshat Nauriyal

Inside Out by Akshat Nauriyal

Other artists such as the Fearless Collective and Shilo Shiv Suleman teamed up to produce a mural that centers on the Kali women, while Poornima Sukumar and Sadhna Prasad highlighted the Banjara women. Guido van Helten drew three larger-than-life murals of the female workers he met at the dock. Olivier Hoelzl used his signature hand-cut stencils to create an installation of Koli women as well as a mural depicting the problems of urbanization and colonization.

The subject of urbanization dilemma also appears in some other artworks. One example is Alt Q Collective’s installation, which features a UV-lit room filled with old-school Bollywood posters.

A byproduct of urbanization, waste is another topic that surfaces at the Sassoon Docks Art Project. Artists Tan Zi Xi and Sajid Wajid Shaikh used waste to build their respective installations as a reminder for the audience to be kinder to the environment.

On a much lighter note, Singapore’s the Yok and Sheryo created three murals and an installation to make a comparison between regular fisherwomen and Lord Varuna, the god of the sea. As a playful finishing touch, the duo added a drawing of Merlion; the symbol of Singapore can be seen in one of the murals being ridden by two Koli women.

To see more artworks from the project, visit St+Art India's Facebook and Instagram



Images by Akshat NauriyalPranav Gohil and Tan Zi Xi.
Header image: The Idea of Smell by Hanif Kureshi