Art for a Cause

We, as young adults in an urban environment lead very sheltered lives. The MISSING campaign, came as an eye opener to me and all those who were a part of it. Not only did it teach me to be compassionate towards people from all walks of life but it also taught me the struggle that girls, my age, face on a daily basis.

The campaign is an initiative by Kolkata-based Photographer and Installation artist Leena Kejriwal. The original work addresses the issue of human trafficking and consists of larger than life black silhouettes of young girls placed against the urban skyline. They look like sharp, black holes cut out of the sky. Holes, into which millions of girls disappear from the face of this earth. These expanded forms act as memorials to these young girls who have vanished into thin air.

“I was convinced that this project was one that would bring about a change.”

A couple of months later, when Leena called me to help her out, as co-ordinator of the campaign in the city, I knew this was an opportunity I shouldn’t give up on. Our aim was to engage the public on the issues around MISSING. through a community-based project & create buzz on social media through on-ground activation. Having worked with Leena on an installation previously, I was convinced that this project was one that would bring about a change. On my initial interactions with trafficking survivors, I discovered that not only were they very much like me, but they were also very ambitious. In spite of not having been given formal education, they were extremely intelligent and picked up new things with ease.

We gathered 30 enthusiastic girls from mainstream schools of the city who shared the same ideas as us, to create awareness about female trafficking in the city. We then split ourselves into groups of 5 and cut out stencils from the silhouette. After countless hours of effort, we were finally out on the streets. We used these to stencil the silhouette on the pre-selected locations using spray paint. Girls from NGO’s across the city accompanied us. We had the privilege of interacting with them on a regular basis. It gave us an insight into how similar their dreams and ours are.

The 
Experience

This experience taught me innumerable lessons, but the one that influenced me greatly was the realisation that the most incredible people are those who have been let down at certain points in their lives, only to get back on their feet with their head held higher. To say that MISSING has completely changed me would be an exaggeration. To say that it was one of the most incredible experiences to have been part of, one of those that changes you in the little ways and teaches you life’s lessons that would have taken years to learn, would be nothing but the truth. Let’s hope that this will be a recovery that inspires millions of others to act on behalf of the fate of those who have disappeared. – Sakshi Jalan