25.1.05

in context:

Art to me is about spitting and cleansing the self.

And now you wonder if I have been a victim of child abuse/ rape/ domestic violence.

None of the above.

Proposal synopsis:

Street harassment is an offence. It has been granted normalcy due to its daily recurrence. Street harassment also known as eve teasing needs to be addressed on the streets. The project seeks to build testimonies of street harassment in the public space and making them public.

A power game: I see hands a million hands coming towards me as I walk, now the body, my body moves its own way, it has a life outside of my eyes, my mind and so it moves away on its own; sharp, smart, body of mine.

My eyes see other eyes. Those eyes do not see my eyes. They see my breasts. I feel sick. My body feels sick.

I wear a duppatta.

1)

He turned around every minute. I decided to end my walk and take an auto for the rest of the journey. I crossed the road; he too was on the other side. This was towards Kids Kemp on MG Road. He never came near me, he never touched me, but I was scared.

What could he do anyways? Half my size. I am a strong woman, I am!

2)Talking to me, taking my measurements the tailor's fingers 'accidentally' touched my breasts. Then onto the hips, calling out the measurement, telling me which 'design' would suit me, he ticked his finger on my abdomen as I stared at him in disbelief. Accident? Trying to gather both the incidents I told mama that he had touched me and that something was wrong with the tailor. This was as we were leaving the shop. If I don't voice now, this man will not learn a lesson. There were at least twenty men and the shop owner was an old man. I told him that the tailor had misbehaved. "Usne battameezi ki hai. Galat tareeke se chooa hai."

"Madam this is the first time anyone has said something like this. Pehle kabhi koi complain nahi kiya hai."

The tailor came towards me; masking disbelief…I decided to leave.

I continue to fight it everyday.

3) I walked into a shop on Commercial Street and the shopkeeper and asked the shopkeeper for paper. He replied as he stared at my breasts. I had to tell him where my face was and I walked out.

I continue to fight it everyday.

4) I was walking on the main CMH road at about 6 pm one evening. It was not completely dark. It was neither quiet nor lonely. I usually look at people when I walk; my eyes are never looking down. a cyclist went past me; completely non threatening. I suddenly felt something cold through being soaked in through my clothes. He spat his pan on me.

I continue to fight it everyday.

I have chosen not to ‘walk out ‘of a situation but to stand right there, firm on ground and deal with it.

I react.

I am a labeled feminist.

In August 2003 I initiated the Blank Noise project, a nine girl participatory project which addressed our passivity towards street harassment in contrast to the normalcy with which we perceive daily rape reports. Blank Noise was my graduation project.

A group of 60 girls between the age of 17-23 years, was asked to make a mind map with the word public space

"power, intimidating, groping, boundaries, force, harass, tease, bump, ignore, games, demanding, run, insecure, withdrawal, caution, invade, abuse, not in control, anger, vulnerable, intrude, defense, mask, ownership. Escape, dynamic, private, abuse. Out of the sixty girls addressed there are 24 girls who felt strongly enough about this to want to 'voice' together.

Some of the reactions are stated below.

1- We do not experience it.

2- We do not have the time to address it.

3- “We do not have any such hang ups”. It really is no big deal. It is normal.

4- You can not change the world.

5- I don’t think I am ready to do this.

It is a big deal.

The workshops enabled the group of girls to explore their public and private identities. At the end of the workshop there were nine participants left and ready to share their experiences with an audience, which they believed was either victim or perpetrator of street harassment. In contrast was a video news piece, Hot News Taaza Samachar, in which I enacted a news reader that repeatedly read out rape reports and in the process was becoming a victim of what she was reading. She, the news reader was in denial of what was being done onto her. At the end she asked the audience “Is this news for you?”

In its first phase the project outcome was a multi media installation (sound/ video/ photography/ performance) within the Srishti School of Art Design and Technology campus.

Blank Noise as a public art project seeks to:

1) Confronts. Attacks. Heals.

2) Performative.

3) Denies denial

In its second phase Blank Noise seeks to intervene in the public space; the streets by addressing/ confronting/ the anonymous public.

Brigade Road is the cosmopolitan hub of this city/ flanked by billboards/ posters/ hoardings/mannequins. Brigade Road is also made up of people who just want to ‘hang out’/ people on a mission/ window shoppers/ and the time pass types.

This site is my laboratory on which I will perform a series of experiments. The nature of the experiment can not be predetermined and will emerge from the site itself. The only pre set is that I will be building testimonies in the public space.

An ongoing project within Blank Noise is “I ASK FOR IT”. How many times have you been asked or justified to yourself saying that you weren’t wearing anything provocative, and therefore did not ‘deserve’ to be victim. In ‘I ask for it, I ask for people across different cultures to give me the clothes that they wore when they felt sexually threatened on Brigade Road. Eventually, with increased participation the clothing project,” I ASK FOR IT” will map Brigade Road.

When I think of forms like performance- costumes on the streets- getting people to interact with me/ as I am dressed in different costumes that – ‘deny access’/ a garment made of lights that allows me to walk on the street at night- a garment that reveals testimonies of the body – I am not configuring an end result, but the entire process of exchange and reaction.

My research also aims to closely examine the approaches and forms that I want to try. I want to address form by actually trying different forms. My research is on my methodologies. My research is on the language of my art practice. What happens when the nature of the work is in your face? What reaction does it yield?

Do look forward to your thoughts on this project. This is a collaborative project and I do hope to find some collaborators here!


17 comments:

  1. I appreciate your efforts.
    Yes, we fight it.Everyday.
    Bravo to you and more power to you.
    And don't believe those small insecure voices that tell you you can't change the world.
    You can.I can.We can.

    Label me feminist, label me freak, but please let's not pretend like this is 'no big deal'.

    much power to you!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. hey!!
    thanks!

    Jasmeen

    ReplyDelete
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  7. Anonymous12:22 pm

    When did they do all this? Last I checked was a week ago. Payday Loans Cash Advance

    ReplyDelete
  8. Anonymous1:57 pm

    When did they do all this? Last I checked was a week ago. Payday Loans Cash Advance

    ReplyDelete
  9. i wish i'd known about this sooner. i just came across it in today's metro plus.
    Hi, I'm shruthi. I'd like to help.

    ReplyDelete
  10. hey... thats great work u doing... got to know through a friend. Is there any way i can help?
    Lally

    ReplyDelete
  11. Anonymous4:02 pm

    hey..i must say u r doing a great job.keep up the gud work..v can change the world!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Anonymous7:45 pm

    Funny are the ways but one does get used to torture too. So much so, that it becomes a way of life. Appreciate you.
    But never them..

    Malik S.

    ReplyDelete
  13. sheena1:27 am

    This is an amazing project. Kudos to you all for starting it. I think its absolutely amazing that we are always asked to "not mind" it and to carry on.

    ReplyDelete
  14. And so thats how this whole things started!
    Amused and Intrugied and Proud
    Anjaan

    ReplyDelete
  15. Anonymous5:12 pm

    the only problem i hv with feminists is generalisations abt men... ALL MEN... n as we all know... no generalisation is true and correct.

    ReplyDelete
  16. You didn't write the most common reaction (perhaps intentionally?) which is....probably you are PRESUMING that 'villains' in many of the incidents listed by you had any intention to harass you and more so (only?) because they are all men.

    I am a man and...

    I have felt tinglish sensation while tailor takes my size and even make not so decent comments.

    I have been pan-puked upon by 'completely non threatening' person(s) in the past.

    Some of the days when I am wearing by pajama-like trousers, I do get stares with people (both men and women) looking not at my face but at my clothes and not in a very decent way.

    The only difference between you and me is perhaps I do not take offense easily. And I do not presume that the people of only opposite sex have the inclination to harass me.

    Or to put it more succinctly, I am NOT a labeled feminist.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Anonymous3:48 am

    i should tell you that a man deosnt know or realise that he did any harm to a woman by touching her or looking at her. here i am talking of educated people not the street people. when a mans hormones rage his mind shuts off, conscience shuts off only one thing that comes to his mind is his sexual satisfaction

    ReplyDelete