ISSUE NO.1 | The Nagas | July 2017
PROJECT 72 HOURS
aRT AGAINST VICE
Kohima, 25.6586° N, 94.1053°
A street art group called Project 72 Hours once started with the vision to clean up the streets of Kohima. As they continued their work for the society, their vision became stronger and focused on more important issues, like rampant drug abuse and the spread of HIV in Nagaland.
Longwa is the gateway to opium smuggling in Nagaland. Sacks of opium come every week from Myanmar, most of it manufactured in China, and get distributed throughout the district of Mon at cheap rates. It is not very difficult to consume and since there is no shortage in supply, from the youth to old people, almost everyone does it all day. The scenario is no different in the rest of the Nagaland. Over the years, the state of Nagaland has observed significant rise in drug abuse. The use of disposed syringes is also one of the reasons behind the spread of HIV. But this vice is meant to rule till its victims recognize its devilish character. So, what we did was explore the streets and look for messengers.
“Art is real when used for a purpose as rich as saving human lives.” said Vineizotuo Tase. Project 72 was founded by Sievituo Solo, a cyclist who applied this idea of spreading awareness through art, in the city of Kohima. This project was first shaped to be a clean-up campaign, but with it came the zeal to change the people of this city. Tase has been into art all his childhood and lauding Solo’s initiative, he said “Solo did something remarkable. He is influential and well-known throughout Northeast India and the street art community in parts of the world and I believe, he did something that ought to be done by a person like Solo. He united us. He gave us a platform which lets us exhibit our skills and passion and we do the best thing to do with this passion: to give strength to the ones to make them believe in their abilities. That is what the Wall of Hope stands for.”
We saw the Wall of Hope for the first time in the weak light of dawn. “What do I find in common in all the portraits of these famous people on this wall? And how does it signify hope?” I asked. Tase answered “What is common among J.K Rowling, Einstein, Eminem, Oprah Winfrey, Che Guevara is that they believed in themselves, their philosophies and their abilities. Despite all odds, they shined among billions of people on Earth. They inspired. They took generations forward. Along with their pictures, this wall holds their stories. And that gives us hope.”
He continued, “Look around, sneak into corners of this city on a day like this. A young boy might be sitting with a syringe shooting himself with heroin. That one life is gone from the family of this region.” He believes, as one of the renowned faces of art in the state and leading Project 72 alongside Solo, it is his and the group’s duty to show the people the disasters that drugs cause. That it is not confined to the city but to the world, is what we learnt from these inspiring young minds.
The philosophy of these artists of Kohima who, in this age of evil, have channelled their collective passion to create something as profound and pure as Project 72 is a lesson for larger cities who look for an idea to contain the wrongs that prevail within them.