"Who has access to public spaces? It’s patriarchal."

Seeing people kiss in public is okay but looking at posters of it is notImage source: Limits Within/Facebook
Features Sunday, August 30, 2015 - 14:30

Towards the last week of July, residents of Bandra in Mumbai started witnessing a rather unusual sight in their area. Posters of couples kissing had been pasted on the walls across Bandra, reported Mid-Day

Though the artists behind the initiative remain anonymous, the photographs reportedly left some of the residents "scandalised", with many finding it obscene.

Over the next month, the trend has continued and Scroll.in recently interviewed the artist from a group called Limits Within, who preferred to remain anonymous to avoid any case of obscenity from being filed against them.



“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 the website. 

The photographs had been taken over the course of a year with the consent of the subjects in the pictures. However contrary to what some media outlets reported of the couples being "white-skinned" or foreigners, the artist said that except for one couple in the posters, all are Indians. "There is an idea that Indians can’t do something like this," the artist said. 



Mid Day in its report has quoted several residents who objected to the posters being pasted in a residential area, which was "not suitable for the school and college students who frequent this area."  However, a college student had said, "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." 

The posters seem to have sparked an outrage and many are regularly taken down by people.



One of the people who have been photographed in the posters told Scroll that "I haven’t worn the same outfit since the posters were put up. But the outrage really is more about the people outraging than about us.”

The report also states that while the couple kissed each other in a public place at the time of being photographed, no one seems to have objected. There, however, was resentment when it was put up in full public view. 

Public display of affection in the "maximum city with minimum privacy" is much more common than thought.  Dipti Nagpaul in a report for The Indian Express writes, "With a population density of over 27,000 per square kilometre, the privacy of four walls in Mumbai is considered a luxury for most couples, married or unmarried." And so, couples lining up the marine beach promenade and spending some private and intimate moments with their partners is a sight many Mumbaikars are familiar with.  

For now, the artist is also observing and capturing the reactions of people to the posters and plans to expand the project to other cities as well. 

All images: Limits Within/Facebook