Bengaluru, 15th July 2023 Can underrepresented women from the informal sector with differing caste, language and community backgrounds find joy in a community bound together by creativity? Why don’t or can’t they claim public spaces with as much ease as men do and only leave the confines of their homes and work environments to do errands? Can they make time to make rangolis together, do quilting, block printing, and share their lives? How can the power of participatory art practices address the mobility demands of women informal workers?
These are some of the questions that the short documentary ‘Alli Serona: Together in Art’ raises with sensitivity. Screened on the 13th of July at Alliance Française de Bangalore, the film documents the efforts of ‘Alli Serona’ (Let’s meet there), a social impact movement. ‘Alli Serona’ originated in Marathahalli, a bustling locality in suburban Bengaluru to bring together women working in the informal sector, in an empowering community-centric movement.
Tanisha Arora, a Senior Creative Strategist and key spokesperson for the initiative, says, “Alli Serona: Together in Art,’ successfully demonstrates how participatory art practices can empower even the most underserved women and help them transcend language barriers, cultural differences, and social divides. Active involvement in collective creation away from the daily grind can offer them a shared opportunity for dialogue, self-expression, and mutual connection.”
Why the name ‘Alli Serona’? “The name was chosen by the women themselves and it has a certain energy and movement that they have come to relate with.,” adds Tanisha. They are also acutely aware of how climate change impacts underserved communities like their own. “The effects of climate change are first felt by informal settlements, often affecting marginalised communities whose voices are often absent in decision-making spaces and processes. The ‘Alli Serona’ movement is an attempt to ensure that the voices of the most vulnerable stakeholders are not only heard but also amplified.”
The film focuses on many such voices and celebrates the resilience of women like Parvathamma and Chand Bi who now steal a little time for themselves to collectively reflect upon their role in the informal workforce and as well as in society. Says Shwetha T, a dedicated mural artist involved in the project from the Aravani Art Project, “Women have all sorts of things in their hearts. Pain, sadness, joy, and difficulties. We make them forget all of that when we invite them to paint.”
Alli Serona (“Let’s meet there” in Kannada) is a collective of civil society organizations, creators, and think tanks that are working together to bring the voices of the informal sector of Bengaluru to the centre of the city’s shift to a more sustainable, low-carbon city.