First Grant. 

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reFrame Fellowships 2020-2021: Genderalities

Congratulations to the 8 artists awarded the first reFrame Fellowships for artistic works across media.

The coming together of people as powerful movements has challenged age-old power structures, norms and orthodoxies, as well as newer forms of violence, inequalities and prejudice. In doing so, our everyday lives as women, trans* and queer people, as also those from discriminated castes, communities and ethnic groups, have changed like never before. But the fear that a truly equal, just and peaceful world could become reality has anti-women, anti-LGBT, anti-minority, anti-Dalit forces, amongst others, circling ominously all around, swooping down in attack, trying to regain control.

As regressive forces increase their hold across the world, misogyny is spreading like wildfire in India, fanned by a morally, politically and financially conservative establishment, and its merry brother-in-arms, the mainstream media. Countless cases of sexual, communal and casteist violence against the powerful are being buried. Rape survivors are being further victimised and the accused, celebrated. Fear and fragility pervade the air as state and street policing gain ground with anti-Romeo squads on the prowl, fanatically coupling unconventional “love” with the word “jihad”. The spectre of gender neutral laws threatens to take away legal protections for women. Calls for laws to “save” Indian men and families are getting stronger. Women, trans* and queer folks are being pushed back into hostile marital and natal homes by the courts. Despite a landmark judgment that guaranteed legal status and affirmative action for trans* persons, the law re-marginalises them today. Even the historic victory decriminalising homosexuality has failed to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer persons have rights as equal citizens. So much is still so very wrong out there.

The vortex of negative forces threatens to suck us in. Sometimes we resist, sometimes we lose hope. Sometimes we falter, sometimes we fall. Sometimes we rage, sometimes we celebrate the freedoms, equality, dignity and rights so hard won. The seemingly rock steady foundation of patriarchy, casteism, heteronormativity, binary gender, honour and ‘dis’honour, body and politics, has without doubt, been shaken. We have been stirred into new ways of seeing, living, working, loving, and being. If the present moment connects us through the challenges we face together, it also carries the promise of new solidarities, joint struggles and creative imaginations of the future. That is the call we respond to as writers, bloggers, painters, cartoonists, illustrators, performers, photographers, mixed media artists, installation artists, filmmakers, and so on.

 

As creative women, trans* and queer persons working across media, this is our moment to question, create and deliberate. To express ourselves, to start new conversations, to reach out with what we have to say, to imagine without inhibition, to disrupt notions of what is and must be, with the possibilities of what can be, may be, should be, will be.

Selected Fellows and their Projects

reFrame FILM FELLOWSHIPS

Aman Soni, Maheen Mirza, Rinchin. Transgressions. A room of my own? It’s the story of my dreams. It should be simple enough, but it’s not. All I have to do is knock at your door and express an interest in the To-let board hanging outside.

Divya Sachar. Lakshmi – A Ghost Story. A quest to piece together the story of her grandmother leads the filmmaker to discover a traumatic past and its lingering presence in their shared home and memories.  

Mehdi Jahan. Mother, Can We Ever Return Home? The recurrent nightmares of two women interact, overlap, and confront each other, revealing intimate narratives from the lives of Assamese women from marginalized communities facing domestic, social, and political oppression over the years. 

reFrame INSTALLATION ART FELLOWSHIP

 

Dhaarchidi Collective. Gardu Garden. Walking with, reflecting on one’s own and listening to women’s experiences, stories and perspectives in the foothills of the Dhauladhar range, the group stitches, patches, embellishes and embroiders shared emotions and affirmations on gardus, locally woven winter blankets; and transforms them into an interactive public installation in the summer months. 

reFrame ONLINE ART FELLOWSHIP

Reya Ahmed. Miniature Women. A resistance against the invisibility of intersectional identities through a series of miniature-inspired illustrations, interconnected by storylines and parallel historical explorations, to depict Muslim women not as objects of desires, but subjects with authority and agency over their narratives.

 

reFrame PERFORMANCE FELLOWSHIPS

Najrin Islam. What’s in a Name? A monologue that draws from the writer’s lived experiences, observations and vignettes to create a fictionalised space for a character inhabiting her own room. The performance explores a formative culture of assimilation, its volatile impossibilities, and memories as evoked by family archives viewed afresh in these complex times. The story of a Muslim woman navigating the meaning of her body—a messy body, a raging body, a reflective body—and its right to stake claim to space.

Rumi Harish. Journey... A to E. (Script Development). A theatrical work exploring gender and voice through years of music training, and breaking traditions of patriarchy, caste and gender.

 

Samata Kala Manch. The struggle of Dalit Women against Brahmanical Patriarchy. Creating and performing songs of anger, distress, patience, empathy, perseverance, determination and rebellion; smashing the power of Brahmanical Patriarchy, to create a new society based on equality, liberty and sisterhood.

Grants under the Fellowships ranged from Rs. 35,000/- to Rs 1,00,000/-, plus 25% artist's fee.