Sari, Femininity, and Wall Art: A Semiotic Study of GuessWho’s Street Art in Bengaluru




GuessWho, graffiti, Instagram, visual semiotics, Heritage, gender, Bengaluru


Graffiti has been conversing with the public for millions of years. In India, this art form is prominent in spaces like historical monuments, schools, colleges, classrooms, public bathrooms, benches, desks, and local transports. With the coming of the Covid 19 pandemic, this art from the streets has come alive in people’s smartphones. This paper explores and interprets the works of GuessWho, a prominent stencil graffiti artist working in the city of Bengaluru, Karnataka, and originally belonging to Kochi, Kerala. This study seeks to understand how the discourse around graffiti can help empower women in their struggle to claim the streets. By focusing on Instagram as a medium of social resistance, the paper explores the role of graffiti and social media in challenging the patriarchal status quo. Semiotics is used to understand the ways in which the production and consumption of forms of street art and graffiti are increasingly shaping the way Bengaluru city negotiates with gender. GuessWho’s graffiti symbolically targets and contests gender discrimination and particularly challenges some of the existing classist, racist, or sexist biases by subverting the use of sari, technology, and gender roles in the artwork.

Author Biography

Benson Rajan, O.P. Jindal Global University (India)

Benson Rajan ( is an Associate Professor at Jindal School of Journalism and Communication, India. He specialises in visual culture and media semiotics. His research on social media, gender studies, and human computer interaction studies has been published in various journals such as Punctum: International Journal of Semiotics, Hypertext.Net, Funes: Journal of Narratives and Social Sciences, MAI: Feminism and Visual Culture, Journal of Creative Communications. His work “Curating an Affective Push: Indian Women’s Facebook Profile Pictures and Their Affective Turns” was published in Deleuzian and Guattarian Approaches to Contemporary Communication Cultures in India (2020) by Springer Nature. “Popular Culture and the (mis)Representation of Asperger’s: A Study on the Sitcoms Community and The Big Bang Theory” is his latest book chapter, that was published in Normalizing Mental Illness and Neurodiversity in Entertainment Media: Quieting the Madness (2021) by Routledge.


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How to Cite

Rajan, B. (2021). Sari, Femininity, and Wall Art: A Semiotic Study of GuessWho’s Street Art in Bengaluru. Tripodos, (50), 111-130.