As part of Jersey City, New Jersey's "Mural Program" which instills adornment of less sightly urban walls, I stumbled on "Jaan Pechechaan Ho". This colorful, obviously "saree" inspired mural call itself "inspired by Indian blockprints and textiles" via Hellbent's (artist) website. I pleasantly surprised by the "saree mural" as it reminded me of long sarees drying on the sides of buildings in a quintessential Indian city.
Conceptually the title, "Jaan Pechachaan Ho" makes sense as this translates to, "May there be familiarity". The mural's home is in the Journal Square neighborhood of Jersey City, home to "India Square", which according the Wikipedia, is home to the highest concentration of Asian Indians in the Western Hemisphere. It just so happens to be the title track of of the 1965 Bollywood movie Gumnaam (video below).
The song recently regained popularity, thanks to the work of Wieden + Kennedy (advertising firm) when they utilized the track for a surreal Heineken commercial.
This upbeat song could be the sound track of "India Square". The crowds, organized chaos and bustle are akin to this upbeat song.
It doesn't appear that Hellbent is Desi by origin but I do appreciate the adornment and overall concept. When it comes to familiarity, "India Square" will not allow you to be mistaken that you are in an Indian neighborhood. However, amongst the chaotic commerce and sprinkle of Hindu temples there is a clear lack of art. Let's hope that the mural inspires additional projects like this. There must be some Desi artists with a penchant for urban art that wants to further this effort.
As of recent, Jersey City has been experiencing aggressive gentrification. The "Jersey City Economic Development Corporation" had launched a $1.2 million dollar, "Make it Yours" campaign to attract millennials from NYC in 2014.
The issue that I found with this campaign was the lack of "Desi" origin presence. Could it be that the "Jersey City Economic Development Corporation" wanted to hide the fact that Desi presence is all over Jersey City? Demographically it is difficult to walk the streets of Jersey City and not find a Desi. Perhaps Desi folks are not generally hipster-millennial enough to adorn one of their posters? Or dare I say it, cool enough? Sure most of the Desis work in the technology industries and tend to shy away from smoking their own meats and brewing their own artisan craft beers but WTF? Jersey City cannot hide the fact that "India Square" exists in the center of the city itself.
All the more reason for Desi artists to step up against this shallow minded campaign and it's backers like Mayor Fulop and show that we exist. Go out and create.