A novel coronavirus helmet that uses art to enforce discipline

Written By: Sidharth MP WION
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India Updated: Mar 30, 2020, 09:39 PM(IST)

Chennai-based artist and entrepreneur Gowtham posing with his coronavirus helmet.   Photograph:( WION )

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Made using a discarded helmet, waste paper and painted in bright hues, the coronavirus helmet was designed by Chennai-based artist and entrepreneur Gowtham.

Clips of a Police officer in Chennai wearing a red corona-helmet, warning road-users against unnecessarily venturing out in violation of the 21-day lockdown has been going viral. 

Made using a discarded helmet, waste paper and painted in bright hues, the coronavirus helmet was designed by Chennai-based artist and entrepreneur Gowtham, who wanted to send a stern and compelling message. Gowtham has been installing artworks in public places, working towards recycling plastic and creating awareness on several contemporary issues, but the Corona helmet is turning out to be his most noted piece of work. 

“Almost a week back, on the day of Janta Curfew I saw a lot of people roaming on the roads, as though it was some sort of holiday. There was hardly any awareness of the seriousness of the situation. That’s when I decided that something needs to be done about this”, Gowtham told WION. 

At first, he made some placards on coronavirus that read, “If you come out I will come in” and handed them over to the police which they displayed at the nearby flyover and intersection. But Gowtham wanted to take his creativity further and give people the “real look and feel of the coronavirus” and how big a threat it was. 

Costing less than Rs.500 (most of which was spent on the paint) the corona helmet was made of discarded materials, given that all the shops were closed due to the ongoing lockdown. In five hours the helmet was painted and ready, after which Gowtham offered it to the nearby Police station. He suggested that this would help the cops in sending out a stern statement, even without brandishing their batons(Lathis).

Gowtham says “the intention was to collaborate art and security in a manner that reaches adults and kids. The best part was that Inspector Rajeesh Babu of the Villivakkam station himself chose to wear the helmet and man the temporary check-post along with his team and ask valid questions to create awareness amongst the public. Every time a vehicle passed by he would stop them and ask them rhetorical questions -  “Can I come and sit in between you? What if I come close? Why no masks? Do you know who I am? What if I infect you ?” 

Now, this campaign is a success and people appreciate the novel method that we have used, but it is all thanks to the Inspector who was receptive towards this off-beat idea. This is enough motivation for me to start work on other art forms and techniques to ensure that people remain home and safe during this lockdown, Gowtham adds. 

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