For generations, we have been witness to sexual and caste-based violence targeted against people from Dalit communities and other marginalised groups. While the ideology that empowers such action and impunity, is one in which upper castes in India ritually, socially and economically marginalise lower castes and women, the violence of brahmanical patriarchy is almost always meted out on the body. Most often on bodies that are female, queer and trans, used as sites for asserting power, entitlement, violence, terror and control. The body of work on caste based and sexual violence mostly presents itself in form of writing or as conversations.
Janeu Prompts is a performative series that aims to go beyond oral and written narratives, by centering itself on the language of body, psyche, emotions and feelings that respond to ongoing cases of violence against marginalised communities in India. Each work focuses on one incident of caste based and/or sexual violence:
The lynching of 15 year old Junaid Khan aboard a train, June 2017.
The brutal rape and murder of transgender activist, Sweet Maria, November 2012.
The rape and hanging of two minor cousin sisters in Badaun, May 2014.
The public flogging of seven members of a Dalit family under the pretext of cow protection in Una, July 2016.
I use my body in juxtaposition to the Janeu (a ‘sacred’ thread worn by upper caste Hindu men, that signals the pervasive practices of brahmanical patriarchy) to subvert and transform the body from a site of violation to a site of dissent, resistance and assertion. Janeu Prompts wishes to trigger collective memory, response and grief towards caste based and sexual violence in India. - Jyotsna Siddharth
Jyotsna Siddharth | Concept, Performance
Mir Ijlal Shaani | Cinematography & Editing
Jyotsna is an actor, artist and writer. They are also a Country Director of Gender at Work India. Jyotsna’s practice spreads across institutional building, intersectionality, arts, activism, theatre and development. They have a masters in Development Studies from TISS Mumbai and Social Anthropology from School of Oriental and African Studies, London and a recipient of Chevening Scholarship, British High Commission (2014). In 2020, Jyotsna was featured as 40 under 40 by Edex and New Indian Express. Their work has appeared in Times of India, Hindu, UN Women, The YP Foundation, Feminism in India, Smashboard, Ashoka Literature Festival, Indian Express, Mid- Day, The Rights Collective, Feminism in India, The Swaddle, The Citizen, Spielart Theatre Festival, India Culture Lab, Grazia, News18, Khirkee Voice and Khoj.
MIR IJLAL SHAANI
Mir is a filmmaker, visual and sound artist based in New Delhi. He was the youngest assistant director on Nicholas Kharkhongor’s film MANTRA and worked as a Director’s assistant to Zoya Akhtar and Alankrita Shrivastava. He is currently writing his first feature film.