A month ago Mumbai’s Bandra area residents had started seeing numerous posters of couples kissing in public spaces pasted at different spots in the suburbs. The beautiful posters of every type couple appeared everywhere from building walls, to tempos, to drainage pipes and to electric boxes. Instead of gaining appreciation, these posters received an opposite reaction from the people. Some find them obscene while others are scandalized.
“Mystery posters of white-skinned couples in a tight clinch, smooching each other, have shocked Bandra residents and passers-by,” reported Mid-Day. People thought foreigners had posed for those pictures.
The posters were pasted by anonymous artists who go by the name Limits Within.
“We wanted to explore what was forbidden and what was permitted. Who has access to public spaces? It’s patriarchal. There is garbage. Spaces are hijacked for political and personal use. But when you have something as basic as human intimacy, people have a huge problem with that,” the artist told Scroll.
“There is an idea that Indians can’t do something like this. But except for one couple in the stickers, all the people in the images are Indians.”
The artist is keeping a tab on the reactions of the onlookers and the frequent travelers at the spots where posters have been stuck.
The artist did not want to exhibit the pictures in an art gallery, according to him the project was about how people react to the images both online and offline.
“People say that this is wrong because kids, women and old people will see it. So at male-dominated places like chai and cigarette shops or lavatories, the posters remained for longer [without being ripped down]. At bus stops where there aren’t only men, they were removed much faster. That might be because men control those spaces.”
One person who participated in the project said that people did not react to his kissing his partner. But objections and backlashes came after their picture was put up at public spaces.
“If people can kiss in films, at Bandstand, then this is not bad art. I like the photo series — the theme is love in the city where kissing is considered a crime. A kiss is the world expression of love, there is nothing obscene about it,” a college student said.
The artist now plans to expand the project and reach out to the other parts of the city.
Why kissing in public and demonstration of affection in public have become villains in the society? When two people are in love, do they need anyone’s permission to do what they want to? How it is to accept that humans in love can kiss in public?