Saturday, January 31, 2009

Radha: 1Shanti Road final Exhibition, Bangalore, India

The culmination of two hard weeks of work by Srishti School of Art students in collaboration with the visiting artists was amazing. The spontaneous show of the installation with fabric, photos, video, sound and live participation with electric and inspiring. The students never expected such a big crowd to show up. The press was there in full attendance and I must thank Kala from Srishti for sending out letters to the press and inviting them to the show. I want to thank Mrs Geetha Narayanan our director for her support in making this workshop happen. I want to thank our students Tanuja, Pushpi, Urmilla, Swati, Saeema, Mrinalini, Anushka, Sumona, Huda, Sauntouni, Elena and Priyanka for doing a great job and also completely enjoying the whole process. I hope you all will be able to use all that you experienced in your final project.
I thank all the Artists who participated, coordinated and gave everything they had for this workshop.Zeenath for starting this workshop without Veronica here. Karoline, Liz, Ana, Vera, Richard, the Maara group, Vinayak, Archana all of these artists gave so much of their time and energy into this project.
Love you all very much. Again many many thanks and we hope to see you end of the year to continue on this project.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Hair braiding at Cubbon Park

Another attempt at feminising the male dominant areas of Cubbon Park. We went around with ribbons and asked people if they would like us to braid their hair. We approached some men and asked them if they would like to do the same for their girlfriend/ sister/ mother.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Interepreting Fear

The inspiration for such intereprataions were drawn from the apporach Ana Paula Albe has taken in her landscape shots of crevices. It just motivated me to see things differently, how to obsereve what we tend to miss regularly. I was walking around the streets and noticed these postered walls, which have been repeatedly and over a period of time been scartched and textured. Just lured me completely, hence made me look at it beyond colours and forms. I was able to discover forms and shapes within them. I could find feelings and emotions, hence i decided to interepret fear through these frames.


Monday, January 26, 2009

Radha:India is celebrating its 60th Republic Day and nothing has changed in the last 60 years

I love my students who are participating in the Fear and Gender workshop.  They are courageous and gorgeous young women with a lot of fire in their belly's specially to stand up for their rights in this fast changing India. India is changing but not the right way for our young women. 

I am sure that all of you have seen the news that young women  were beaten up in a pub and the pub was vandalized by "Moral police" in Mangalore town of India. These so called "Moral Police" were objecting to the women being in the pubs period. This is there way of protesting against the moral degradation of Indian values in young women. I as an Indian woman, I am ashamed to say that we have these so called "Moral Police" in India are all men!

India is celebrating her 60th Republic Day today, the day when India adopted her constitution and therefore a symbol of her emancipation.......... but it will be a long time before she becomes free of bigotry and mindless prejudices. Good job all of you. Love you

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Shivaji Nagar- performance, experience, interaction

We were a group of 8 people. There were a set of tasks we had to perform sequentially at various locations within the bus stop. We had set up an sms group so at each stage we received messages about the next step via sms.

We started of by forming a circle at the entrance and looking at each other in silence. We then split up and went about the station asking people how they said the word woman in their respective languages. We met again at the entrance, stood in a circle sort of facing outwards and shouted out the different translations of 'woman'. At this point the gentleman at the enquiry asked us to leave but we carried on anyways. This task was sort of a warm up, preparing us for the more challenging tasks to come. Sayantani, was the most enthusiastic at this stage and gave the rest of the group some courage to carry on.

We then proceeded to the abandoned pedestrian subway, standing there really gives a feeling of being at the heart of Shivaji Nagar. We distributed some newspapers to sit on and some paper and pens to write with. The task was to create a word collage of anything we could hear, smell, see, imagine sitting there in silence. This was pretty meditative and helped us focus ourselves. We left the sheets tacked to the wall and went up to a shut off entry on the other side of the street, its connected to the Shivaji Nagar station via the pedestrian subway. Its a bit like a cage in the middle of the road. We tried mirroring the people outside, watching them as they watched us. Not all of us felt good about this exercise, as the men on the other side of the cage seemed to enjoy the attention. We felt a bit too vulnerable by the end of it. Still it was worth a shot!

We went back to subway. At this point we had caught the attention of the sweeper woman who told us that no man would dare to touch her, as she would beat him with her broom. She and her friends stood by and watched our next action. We formed a circle and hit a note together, gathering all the energy we could from the sound and ran full speed down the subway, up the ramp and burst onto the platform. We ran to the middle of the station and all eight of us jumped and shook ourselves- it was quite a sight and quite a feeling! A policeman came and blew his whistle but he just started laughing so we didn't stop. We thought we would anger a few people through this action but it was very joyful and everyone who watched us had a smile on their face- especially the old women and the kids. One young man was asked why he thought we were doing this. He actually said he thought it was our way of retaliating against what men do to women.

The next set of action really pushed us beyond our comfort zones leaving us exhilarated - the same crazy feeling that you get after a good improvisation!

Armed with a rag, some Colin and a glass of water we each occupied one bench along the length of a platform. First we scrubbed and cleaned the bench. A lot of us were incredibly uncomfortable with this. I remembered the sweeper women while doing this. A lady told Mrinalini that she was too beautiful too be cleaning benches. This action catalyzed a lot of discussions about caste and colour between the public and us. Most people were pleasantly surprised. we then went up to random men in the station and asked them if they wanted a glass of water. we thought this might be a good gesture to begin with but were surprised to find that no one accepted. We the asked them a set of questions "think of one important woman in your life (everyone thought of their mother!). What is her favourite place in Bangalore? Which bus goes there? Can you take me to the bus? I will close my eyes."

Sayantani met a policeman who agreed to accompany her but asked her to keep her eyes open. Swati was very surprised to find how carefully the man she met took her to the bus. A man who didn’t know where he was going himself led Urmila and they had a long conversation about the relationship between men and women in public spaces. The reaction I got from the man i approached was " please don't ask me to take you. The bus is right here!" I found at first that I was only willing to ask one kind of man- someone closer to my class perhaps, someone who was not clearly religious etc. but I pushed my self to step out of my boundaries.

That was the end of the day’s activities. we found out that not all men are monsters. That fear in public spaces is more about a perception of danger rather than dangerous situations. And that we need to create creative, public ways of opening up dialogue between the sexes. All it took was two hours and at the end of it we felt pretty battered but in some way sort of liberated!


These 'off limit' spaces for women, are really, some uncomfortable zones. I have just reaffirmed this feeling after spending a great amount of time in alleys of shivaji nagar, where men gawked till I could disappear, at bars where the smoke was of no help to fade my presence, beedi shops where men still think only they can smoke! What really worried me was how in this world can i actually get a good shot in these places? All i could do was quickly point and shoot, considering my camera is an D-SLR it almost was impossible. People were threatened, to see me with a camera, to a point that there were 3 different occasions when I was confronted and asked to delete pictures. These spaces are just dominated by men most often, they dont all have activities which would make women uncomfortable. The prominence and establishment of men being there always is among the many reasons I discovered about off limit spaces.
(this post will continue)


Thursday, January 22, 2009