The «art braille kanthari» charity auction was an art exhibition and charity auction, with special guest and auctioneer Stefan Puttaert, the director of Sotheby’s Zurich, and media personality Christine Maier.
the «art braille kanthari» project was based on Joseph Pisani’s three month kanthari trip through Southern India. The exhibition includes photographs, abstract paintings, video clips from the trip, and braille prose. Pisani’s visit to India marks the 71st country he’s visited. In Southern India, Pisani visited the kanthari campus, met the kanthari founders and the 24 students from this year’s seven month program, then visited seven projects founded by kanthari alumni throughout southern India. «art braille kanthari» documents the tireless work of the kanthari alumni, their social projects, and the people they have helped. The backstories of each of the auction lots, as well as a description of the 7 projects visited are listed below.
“Let the Kids Play” KR Raja is unstoppable, like Superman adorned with crutches instead of a red cape. Maneuvering the difficult dirt paths didn’t slow him, despite being disabled by polio. We visited countless families that lit up in his presence. His project, GNE, helps these children pay for school, participate in sports, and spend a bit more time on being a kid, rather than worrying about funds for food and education. Since most of the children have fathers that are serving life in prison, happiness and smiles were otherwise far too rare. // GNE Project, Kovilpatti, Tamil Nadu
“Camera Shy” Project Defy’s oldest “Nook” was soothing and cool after finding my way by public bus from the center of Bangalore’s frenzy. The electricity had been out for most of the morning, and eager students milled about while waiting for the return of the lights and internet. One new student, shrieked with laughter, as she ran from my camera lens. Like a curious kitten, she reappeared shortly after to take another look, this time well protected by a concrete window vent… // Project Defy “Nook”, Kaggalipura, Karnataka
“The Solemn Look of Freedom” Mr. Madasamy had lost everything. After being falsely imprisoned for life for rape and murder, his wife left him and their 5 children in the care of his father, because the shame she felt from the ordeal. KR Raja, through his GNE project, was able to find a pro bono attorney, and raise the appeal fees which allowed Mr. Madasamy his freedom after 3 years of incarceration. Mr. Madasamy had a pet parrot perched on his hand when we meet. My first thought was if his bird was kept in a cage. When he showed me the bird’s cage, I found the perfect place to make his portrait. GNE Project, Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu
“Freedom on Wheels” George and I spent the 6 hour journey telling stories and getting lost on unmarked dirt roads as we rode through the morning to visit an event his project organized. The community center was hot and dark and alive with children laughing. They danced around wheelchairs where their parents sat eagerly learning. Outside, a rusted bicycle was leaning against a wall, surrounded by old branches and debris, as if a monsoonal flood had stranded it there years ago—the perfect imagery of George’s plight to make India wheel chair friendly. // Freedom on Wheels, Alappuzha, Kerela
“Tata the Farmer” As soon as I arrived at Sristi, I saw Tata—a face like a famous novel, filled with tales of deep smiles and tears. His battered hands spoke of endless battles, calloused and raw like worn leather gloves and decades tilling rocky land in heat. The scene was already set in my mind. The only challenge was getting him to pause from his never-ending work for just a moment, to capture his story in light. // Kunamangalam Village, Villupuram District, Tamil Nadu
“An Invitation to a Temple” The sun was starting to sink over Rajapalayam, as Partha lead me through an over-grown field and across a small stream. The smell of burning plastic weighed heavy in my lungs. Beyond the stream, through the trees, was a small concrete structure with a porch. Panjammal, a transgender women, greeted us warmly, and proudly waved me inside her small temple home. // Aravan Project, Rajapalayam Town, Virudhunagar, Tamil Nadu
“Standing at the Doors of Time” The crumbling concrete path was alive—bustling and littered with pots and pans and clutter, while chickens and goats fought for a spot at buckets filled with drink. The sunrise sent spiked rays of light through the trees on to the villagers as they talked, washed clothes and children, and strung beads into jewelry and palm leaves into blankets. A small boy smiles at the door of his family’s one room home, with eyes wide, and a safety pin in his mouth, before ducking back inside to play. Yurt on Wheels, Narikurava Colony, Pondicherry
The 7 Projects I visited on this Three Month Journey Across Southern India:
Pest Friendly Farm
Founded by Santhosh MM (kanthari Alumni 2013). Santhosh MM belongs to the Mullakkuruma community, one of the seven tribal communities in Wayanad district of Kerala. He founded the “Pest Friendly Farm” that trains tribal farmers traditional agricultural practices that are pesticide free, eco-friendly and sustainable.
Freedom on Wheels
Founded by George Thomas (kanthari Alumni 2012). George, a wheelchair user after being the victim works to give others with disabilities a means to earn a living by teaching them marketable skills. George is also involved with activism to help fight for a wheelchair friendly India and the rights of the disabled and he envisions an India where wheelchair users live economically, physically and mentally independent and empowered.
Founded by Abhijit Sinha (kanthari Alumni 2015) is changing the meaning of education by helping communities create their own schools, called «Nooks». The basic tenets of Defy’s approach are: «learning happens naturally» and «information is available freely». They’ve created their own school and learning environment, without teachers where people of different ages and backgrounds learn together out of curiosity, and sharing knowledge.
Yurt on Wheels
Founded by John Peter (kanthari Alumni 2013), works with nomadic and marginalized communities that are struggling with social stigma and challenges relating to poverty, unemployment, early child marriage, disease, and lack of knowledge about government facilities and sources of support. Yurt on Wheels focuses on empowering the children and youth in these communities through ensuring that they have consistent access to education and vocational training.
Founded by G. Karthikeyan (kanthari Alumni 2012) gives intellectually disabled people the opportunity to learn farming skills and therefore get the chance to work in the sector of agriculture, generate their own income and become self-sustaining and (partly) independent. It is their objective to empower and enable the intellectually disabled to lead a dignified and holistic life.
Founded by Parthasarathy Kandasamy (kanthari Alumni 2016), works with the LGBTQI community to defend their rights, reduce their health care risks, and the impact of violence, abuse and harassment against them, to improve their livelihoods. Aravan works for LGBTQI people, enabling them to work for themselves, connect them to other people and link them with mainstream institutions for an inclusive development.
GNE – Global Network for Equality
Founded by KR Raja (kanthari Alumni 2013), focuses on the children of prisoners. GNE seeks to provide accommodation, care, support and education by placing the children in appropriate learning institutions as well as to provide a conducive environment where the children will acquire values and essential life skills, counseling, and support to the children and their families, so they can develop a positive self esteem and acceptance.
the art braille kanthari charity auction exhibition photograph back stories are coming soon…