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"Dear Aphrodite" - Abhishek Anicca. Launch Event. reFrame#genderalitiesproject

"Dear Aphrodite" - Abhishek Anicca. Launch Event. reFrame#genderalitiesproject

Online premiere and discussion on 10 June 2022. Digital Performance English | 18 minutes 15 seconds | Black & White | 2022 Dear Aphrodite is a letter, a poem, an ode to melancholy. Dear Aphrodite is a person in crisis. Dear Aphrodite is an attempt at healing. Dear Aphrodite began as a digital performance and travelled only to become a strange film. It is an exercise in self reflection, documentation and commentary that is hard to define and is not ready to be boxed into a category. Not unlike the creator of the piece, it yearns to belong and yet doesn't want to fit in. More than anything, Dear Aphrodite is the process of looking at oneself, asking important questions, both personal and political. It is not a document of self love. On the contrary, there are too many things which hint at self hatred. But maybe there is a thin line between the two, and the text and images keep jumping from one side to another in search of answers. Disability, body image, love, loneliness form the core of these conversations and yet it is also a love song, a sad one, but a love song nonetheless. Written, performed, shot and edited by Abhishek Anicca. The recording is of the conversation that followed the online premiere of the digital performance: between the artist Abhishek Anicca, and Paromita Vohra, award winning filmmaker whose work explores feminism, love and desire, urban life and popular culture and the Founder and Creative Director of Agents of Ishq - India’s best-loved website about sex, love and desire.
"Firefly Women" - Manjari K. (Prologue) reFrame#genderalitiesproject

"Firefly Women" - Manjari K. (Prologue) reFrame#genderalitiesproject

Digital Theatre Performance in 5 Chapters English, Hindi | 2022 Artist's Statement Firefly Women is a website based digital theatre piece spread over 5 days. It is an artistic response to letters written from jail by two young women, wrongly incarcerated under a draconian law and explores ideas of feminist utopia, such as Rokaya Sakhawat Hossain’s short story, Sultana’s Dream. The piece takes you through the letters and the fictional landscape of the short story as they make inroads into feminist solidarity, resilience and hope in these dark times. “2020 was the year of being falsely framed and arrested under UAPA, it was also the year of encountering rainbows in the skies, the polluted skies of the old city, to have found one, even in jail. Now, we wait for a firefly.” - Devangana Kalita in a letter written from Tihar Central Jail, New Delhi, 23 May 2021 Chapters Prologue Chapter 1: Dreaming up Futures Chapter 2: Hum Gunahgaar Aurtein Chapter 3: Un-Caging Chapter 4: The Outside Chapter 5: Songs of Solidarity Epilogue: The Journey Home ​Credits Manjari K | Performer, Director Trishna Senapaty | Researcher Nisha Abdulla | Dramaturg Alia Sinha | Illustrator, Set Designer Neel Chaudhuri | Sound Designer Kiran Naig | Camera Tamanna Chhabra | Therapist / Contact for internal complaints Manjari K is a Delhi based performer, director and teacher. A graduate of the DUENDE School of Ensemble Physical Theatre (2015), she holds a Master’s degree from The School of Arts & Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University. Some of her latest work includes dramaturgy and performance in Whirlpool a play based on the life and works of George Orwell (directed by John Britton, produced by The Company Theatre). In 2017, she directed and led a month long course in Performance making, 00101010, a devised piece about gender identity in cyberspace, performed by the students of Srishti School of Art, Design & Technology, Bangalore. She directed and performed in UpRoute, a Devised Ensemble Physical Theatre piece on home and exile. Chronicle of a Death Foretold, based on the novella by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, directed and performed by her has travelled to London, Athens, Delhi, Bangalore and Lucknow. Manjari’s work is dedicated to exploring the incongruous, fragmentary, disruptive, off-key and awkward in theatre/ live performance. She is interested in the co-existence of different forms, patterns, languages of movement and speech, and in creating possibilities for intersections, and parallels. Gender, sexuality and memory have particular prominence in her work. Trishna Senapaty is a researcher and poet who is pursuing a PhD in Social Anthropology. She studies the carceral state, prisons and the shifting horizon of anti-carceral organizing in India. A member of Delhi- based theater collective Improper Fractions with whom she works as a dramaturg, she enjoys musing and writing in all its different shapes, forms and tenses. Nisha Abdulla is a Bangalore based playwright, dramaturg, and director working in the intersections of theatre, community, and education. She is the Artistic Director of Qabila where her anti-oppressive arts practice centers the dissenting body-imagination and new writing. Nisha is also a member of OffStream, an artist collective that seeks to build community around anti-caste art. Her previous work includes Mi'raj, Orchestra on the Moon, Ashk Neele Hain Mere, Koottu, and Body Remembers. She is currently working on a performance that explores the listening body as a site of resistance. Alia Sinha is an illustrator, visual artist and theatre practitioner based in Delhi. She is deeply interested in collaborative art-making and obsessed with fungi, ghosts and bees. Neel Chaudhuri is a playwright and theatre director based in New Delhi. Currently, he works with The Tadpole Repertory and Aagaaz Theatre Trust, and teaches at Ashoka University and Drama School Mumbai. Neel recently performed and produced The Morning Broadcast, a set of daily sound musings for the Spielart Festival. His most recent directorial venture is Rihla, an adaptation of Andreas Flourakis’ I Want A Country with Aagaaz Theatre Trust (Delhi). Kiran Naig is a Chennai based filmmaker, researcher and performer. He did his Master’s in Anthropology from the University of Madras and has studied acting at the Duende School of Ensemble Physical Theatre. He directed a micro non-fiction series Stray Stories based on stories from the margins of Chennai. He has worked on a true crime documentary as researcher/ achieve resource for an OTT platform. Tamanna is a psychologist who has been practicing with individuals from diverse backgrounds and across ages for around a decade in New Delhi and New York. Her education spans counseling and clinical psychology and she has worked with organizations to train and sensitize staff. She provides culturally sensitive interventions and is LGBTQ+ friendly. She presently works with college students across the NYC area.
"Janeu Prompts" - Jyotsna Siddharth. (Trailer) reFrame#genderalitiesproject

"Janeu Prompts" - Jyotsna Siddharth. (Trailer) reFrame#genderalitiesproject

Performance Videos - Series of 4 English, Hindi | Black and White | 2022 Artist's Statement 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 public flogging of seven members of a Dalit family under the pretext of cow protection in Una, July 2016. The rape and hanging of two minor cousin sisters in Badaun, May 2014. 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. Credits Devised and Performed by Jyotsna Siddharth Shot and Edited by Mir Ijlal Shaani 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 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.
"Tu Tod Behena" Samata Kala Manch. reFrame#genderalitiesproject

"Tu Tod Behena" Samata Kala Manch. reFrame#genderalitiesproject

A feminist call against brahmanical patriarchy on women's day, Samata Kala Manch releases "Tu Tod Behena" (O Sister, break the walls of patriarchy), produced under reFrame's GenDeralities Fellowship. The third of a new set of four songs titled, गीत ब्राह्मणवादी पितृसत्ता प्रतिरोध के (Songs of Resistance Against Brahmanical Patriarchy). Hindi | 2022 A collection of new songs and music videos that give voice to struggles against the timeless power of brahmanical patriarchy. Devoted to all who have lost their lives in the struggles against violence and hate, they express solidarity with peoples' movements for social justice, dignity and human rights. These are songs of anger, distress, empathy, perseverance, determination and rebellion that bear testimony to the injustices against Dalits, adivasis and other marginalised peoples. Songs that dream of a new society based on equality, liberty, justice and sisterhood. Tu Tod Behena, the third of the four songs developed under this project, hails the feminist spirit that inspires movements through generations of struggle, sacrifice, solidarity and victories. Samata Kala Manch is an Ambedkariate cultural troupe, fighting caste-class-patriarchy and brahmanical fascism through the art of resistance. It performs songs, poetry, street-plays of awareness and rebellion, in protests, rallies and other events of cultural resistance, as well as in community spaces. Credits Singer: Asit Sakpal Lyricist: Samiksha Morya Composer: Asit Sakpal Video Editors: Ashok Bankar, Rugveva Sawant
"Pahadaan da Laan - Installation" Dhaarchidi Collective. reFrame#genderalitiesproject

"Pahadaan da Laan - Installation" Dhaarchidi Collective. reFrame#genderalitiesproject

Mixed Media Installation holding the stories, experiences and feelings of Pahadi women | 5 sites | Himachal Pradesh | 2021 Garadu is a woolen garment traditionally made at home, especially by the women of the pastoral Gaddi people, belonging to the Dhauladhar foothills in Himachal. Crafted in different forms and shapes and coming to several uses, it has many diverse names and types - gardi, pattu, chadar, langha, etc., carrying in them collective and individual histories. However, the stories and art of the Gaddi community have been slowly disappearing – their lifestyles adversely affected by the market, modernity and other external influences and pressures. As the community is forced to move away from nomadic pastoralism, the Garadu too is becoming invisible. Through our exhibition, we bring Garadu's art and stories back amongst all of us - with an intentional eye and ear, embracing and highlighting women’s work and voices within them. The Garadu is to us, not just a garment, but a symbol – of identity, emotions, lived experiences, an eco-based lifestyle, a sustainable economy, labour, knowledge, art and skill, memory and touch. Pahada Da Laan is our attempt to discover and bring to the fore, the mountain life, the mountain landscape, its changes and the many stories, tales and characters that lay hidden inside Garadu's own story. We are a group of young women living in the Himalayas, nestled in the foothills of Dhauladhar Mountain Range - and call ourselves Dhaarchidi, the Himalayan Sparrow in pahadi language. Our lives are interwoven with mountains and nature, where we breathe, think, deliberate, dream, act and live. Our bodies, work, walks, and everyday lives - all revolve around mountains, rivers, streams, pastures and fields, animals, natural produce, geography, etc. In the past many decades, dominant discourses and narratives, especially around development and the environment, have been dominated by the upper-class, upper-caste, cis-male perspective, while women, people from other genders and sexual identities, dalits along with people of other historically marginalised and oppressed communities are rendered vulnerable to inequalities and struggles. As mountain women we have seen that our presence remains constantly invisibilised, our experiences and voices ignored and our stories unheard and often unspoken. In recognising this, we felt the need for a process where we, young women and people from varied contexts can come together, share and engage in reflective practices about the diverse perspectives of women. Dhaarchidi is an effort to listen into the voices of pahadi women and to have a local dialogue process. We spread our wings to build understanding about issues that affect us by observing, understanding, deliberating and reflecting upon our everydayness and surrounding spaces from different perspectives. ​Dhaarchidi is Rashi Salaria, Manasi Pinto, Bindu, Aditi V, Anjali Devi, Soujanyaa Boruah, Manisha and Aditi Pinto. Video credit | Twinkle Some Special Memories Rakkar-Mohli: 11-19 September 2021 | Alongside the exhibition was a balcony space in the old house where where people sat on mats and did embroidery, drawing, craft and chats together. Paddar: 22 September 2021 | Impromptu dancing that began during the sharing, and the presence of the khaddi, women who made the garadu/chadar. Kandbari: 24 October - 10 November 2021 | The chaddar on which everyone left their handprints, theatre performance by Kahani ki Dukaan, visit by Tenacious Bee Collective women. Ladwada: 20 November 2021 | Movie screening, time spent in the courtyard with chakki and other activities, people who were part of our photo series seeing their own photos. Gunehr: 27-29 November 2021 | Theatre games using the garadu, walking and taking our exhibition to different courtyards and public spaces, and a khichdi night with dadis. Supporting Credits Raksha devi and Paddar Mahila Bunkar Samuh | Paddar village Shyamu + family | Rakkar village Rajat and family | Kamlehr village Salaria family | Sidhbari village Bindu and family | Nain village Indra devi and family | Saperu village Manisha and family | Ladwada village Saroj devi | Kandbari Village Kahani ki Dukan | Gunehr village Jen Hoover (Aana Jana), Syamantak De, Kiran | Trinetra Studio Ishaan, Swati, Sindoo, Shaun, Niranjani, Pratibha, Asanda, Manasaguru, Shakir
"Ti Chalat Rahili" Samata Kala Manch. reFrame#genderalitiesproject

"Ti Chalat Rahili" Samata Kala Manch. reFrame#genderalitiesproject

Paying tribute to Savitribai Phule on her 191st birth anniversary, Samata Kala Manch releases "Ti Chalat Rahili" (She Kept Walking), produced under reFrame's GenDeralities Fellowship. The second of a new set of four songs titled, गीत ब्राह्मणवादी पितृसत्ता प्रतिरोध के (Songs of Resistance Against Brahmanical Patriarchy) . Marathi | 2022 A collection of new songs and music videos that give voice to struggles against the timeless power of brahmanical patriarchy. Devoted to all who have lost their lives in the struggles against violence and hate, they express solidarity with peoples' movements for social justice, dignity and human rights. These are songs of anger, distress, empathy, perseverance, determination and rebellion that bear testimony to the injustices against Dalits, adivasis and other marginalised peoples. Songs that dream of a new society based on equality, liberty, justice and sisterhood. Ti Chalat Rahili, the second of the four songs developed under this project, confronts manuvaad, brahmanism and patriarchy rooted in society and the resistance of the Dalit community. Samata Kala Manch is an Ambedkariate cultural troupe, fighting caste-class-patriarchy and brahmanical fascism through the art of resistance. It performs songs, poetry, street-plays of awareness and rebellion, in protests, rallies and other events of cultural resistance, as well as in community spaces. Credits Singers: Shradha Sakpal, Samiksha Morya, Asit Sakpal, Rakhumaji (Sonu) Gaikwad Writer/ Lyricist: Samiksha Morya Composer: Asit Sakpal Video Editor: Prateek Kumar Gautam
"Amhi Savitrichya Leki" Samata Kala Manch. reFrame#genderalitiesproject

"Amhi Savitrichya Leki" Samata Kala Manch. reFrame#genderalitiesproject

"Amhi Savitrichya Leki" (We're the Daughters of Savitri) from Samata Kala Manch's new collection of music videos, गीत ब्राह्मणवादी पितृसत्ता प्रतिरोध के (Songs of Resistance Against Brahmanical Patriarchy) produced under reFrame's GenDeralities fellowship. Marathi | 2021 A collection of new songs and music videos that give voice to struggles against the timeless power of brahmanical patriarchy. Devoted to all who have lost their lives in the struggles against violence and hate, they express solidarity with peoples' movements for social justice, dignity and human rights. These are songs of anger, distress, empathy, perseverance, determination and rebellion that bear testimony to the injustices against Dalits, adivasis and other marginalised peoples. Songs that dream of a new society based on equality, liberty, justice and sisterhood. Amhi Savitrichya Leki, one of the four songs developed under this project, is a tribute to Savitri Bai Phule by her 'daughters' who continue the fight for Dalit women's rights. Samata Kala Manch is an Ambedkariate cultural troupe, fighting caste-class-patriarchy and brahmanical fascism through the art of resistance. It performs songs, poetry, street-plays of awareness and rebellion, in protests, rallies and other events of cultural resistance, as well as in community spaces. Credits Vocals: Suvarna Salve Lyrics: Samiksha Morya Composition/Song Arrangement: Asit Sakpal Video: Asit Sakpal
"What's in a Name?" Najrin Islam. (Trailer 02) reFrame#genderalitiesproject

"What's in a Name?" Najrin Islam. (Trailer 02) reFrame#genderalitiesproject

Performance Video 22 mins | English | 2021 The performance piece, What’s in a Name? is based on lived realities and experiences around the writer’s Muslim identity, and the delicate complications arising from the dual need to preserve and assimilate. Written as a monologue, it deals with the protagonist’s entrenched fear of hellfire on having deviated from normative expectations by offering the namaaz while menstruating. Through meandering trajectories of thought, the character arrives at an understanding of her person and the choices she has exercised, while a series of childhood memories (parallel to the fear of hell) permeate the frames. Using the room the writer has spent most of the pandemic period in as staging ground for the protagonist’s reflections, the piece explores the accounts of a young Muslim woman attempting to navigate dominant spaces that are not designed to accommodate her. In a conscious departure from representations of Muslim women that conform to or border on the stereotype, this story is centred on the character in all her inconsistencies, dilemmas, rage and failures—as one staking a claim to space. The room is where the character brings her observations to fruition; it is where her thoughts brew. Time is marked not by a clock, but by the azaan from the nearby mosque. The concentrated attention to the room and its elements, as well as the character’s intimate relationship with them shape the monologue as an internal dialogue anchored on site. An independent writer and performer, Najrin gravitates towards solo-performance writing, and is currently cultivating her practice through collaborative networks. Her last public performance was a showcase of the monologue Salt by playwright Abhishek Mjumdar as part of ‘Thespo Tapri’, a showcase of digital solo performances by Thespo, Mumbai, in 2020. She completed her M.A. in Arts and Aesthetics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Credits Writer, Performer: Najrin Islam Video Director & Editor: Annette Jacob Sound Designer: Suvani Suri Production Assistant: Sarba Roy
"What's in a Name?" Najrin Islam. (Trailer 01) reFrame#genderalitiesproject

"What's in a Name?" Najrin Islam. (Trailer 01) reFrame#genderalitiesproject

Performance Video 22 mins | English | 2021 The performance piece, What’s in a Name? is based on lived realities and experiences around the writer’s Muslim identity, and the delicate complications arising from the dual need to preserve and assimilate. Written as a monologue, it deals with the protagonist’s entrenched fear of hellfire on having deviated from normative expectations by offering the namaaz while menstruating. Through meandering trajectories of thought, the character arrives at an understanding of her person and the choices she has exercised, while a series of childhood memories (parallel to the fear of hell) permeate the frames. Using the room the writer has spent most of the pandemic period in as staging ground for the protagonist’s reflections, the piece explores the accounts of a young Muslim woman attempting to navigate dominant spaces that are not designed to accommodate her. In a conscious departure from representations of Muslim women that conform to or border on the stereotype, this story is centred on the character in all her inconsistencies, dilemmas, rage and failures—as one staking a claim to space. The room is where the character brings her observations to fruition; it is where her thoughts brew. Time is marked not by a clock, but by the azaan from the nearby mosque. The concentrated attention to the room and its elements, as well as the character’s intimate relationship with them shape the monologue as an internal dialogue anchored on site. An independent writer and performer, Najrin gravitates towards solo-performance writing, and is currently cultivating her practice through collaborative networks. Her last public performance was a showcase of the monologue Salt by playwright Abhishek Mjumdar as part of ‘Thespo Tapri’, a showcase of digital solo performances by Thespo, Mumbai, in 2020. She completed her M.A. in Arts and Aesthetics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Credits Writer, Performer: Najrin Islam Video Director & Editor: Annette Jacob Sound Designer: Suvani Suri Production Assistant: Sarba Roy
"Can they hear our Songs?" - Mehdi Jahan. (Trailer) reFrame#genderalitiesproject

"Can they hear our Songs?" - Mehdi Jahan. (Trailer) reFrame#genderalitiesproject

Film Original Title: Teuluke Aamar Geet Bur Xuna Pai Janu? Assamese | English subtitles | 15 minutes 34 seconds | Black & White and Colour | 2021 The recurrent nightmares of two Assamese Muslim women interact, overlap, and confront each other, revealing intimate narratives from the lives of Assamese women belonging to marginalized communities over the years in the face of domestic, social, and political oppression. Jebin dreams of a boatwoman who's taken an oath to trudge along her native landscapes, carrying her boat on her back. Fatema recounts a nightmare where she's abducted by a couple of army men, forcing her to reveal the whereabouts of her rebel husband. Mehdi Jahan completed his masters in mass communication from AJK MCRC, Jamia Millia Islamia in 2011. He taught film studies in various institutes including Guwahati University, Seamedu Media Institute, Pune, and Assam School of Journalism. He shot noted Assamese filmmaker, (late) Altaf Mazid’s film, ‘Sabin Alun’ (2015), which won the Cinema Experimenta award at the Signs Film Festival, Kerala, 2016, and was screened at the Yamagata festival, Japan, in 2019. ‘Jyoti and Joymoti’, his first short fiction film, was shown in several national and international film festivals, including ‘Signs Film Festival’, Kerala, 2018, where it won the best film award and Bogoshorts-Bogota Short Film Festival, 2018, in the International Competition section. ‘He used to bring me apples’, his second short fiction film, featured in noted film critic and curator, Raju Roychowdhury’s best short films of 2019 list, published by film journals, ‘Senses of Cinema’ and ‘Desistfilm’. It was awarded 'Best Film' at the Shades International Film Festival, 2020. His first feature length fiction film project, ‘All Our Loves’, was selected for NFDC ‘Film Bazaar’ Co-Production Market, 2019. His feature length documentary project, ‘My boat seeks a river and other stories’ was selected for Let’s Doc Fellowship Programme 2020, where it received a 'Special Mention' award. His short experimental film, ‘The home my mother never found’ (2020) was screened at the TENT (Theatre for Experiments in New Technologies) BIENNALE 2020, Kolkata, the international competition of the 6th Moscow International Experimental Film Festival, the 'Internacional 1 – Identidades Fílmicas' section of the 5th MUTA Festival Internacional de Apropiación Audiovisual', Peru, and the 'video screening program' of the 16th edition of SIMULTAN Festival, Timișoara, Romania. His next short fiction project, ‘Can they hear our songs ?’ (2021) received the ReFrame Genderalities Film Fellowship 2020. Credits Writer, Editor, Director: Mehdi Jahan Cinematographer: Sunayana Singh Sound Design and Mix: Rahul Rabha Production Sound Mixer: Eemon Koch Cast: Mala Goswami, Jyotishree Ru Baishya, Adhiraj Kashyap, Sariful Haque
"Journey from A to E and more..." Rumi Harish. reFrame#genderalitiesproject

"Journey from A to E and more..." Rumi Harish. reFrame#genderalitiesproject

Online premiere 16 July 2021. A dramatic reading of a play on a voice in transition, through years of training in music and breaking traditions of patriarchy, caste and gender. Journey from A to E and more... A play script developed under the reFrame #genderalitiesproject. Rumi Harish is a queer transman who started learning Hindustani classical vocal music at the age of 9 under Late Pandit Ramarao Naik, and trained for 17 years. He started performing from the age of 11 across different cities in different prestigious festivals and has learnt under many teachers like Pt Yeshwanth Bua Joshi, Pt D.S.Garud, Pt Indhudhar Nirody and Smt. Aditi Upadhya. Summary There are seven definite tones. Microtones are not, they are variant. One feels the beauty of the universe in these micro tones which are rendered by the artists themselves. I was taught to imagine tones and microtones vertically; but then, is there anything in the world we are thought to look at horizontally? Microtones lie between the definite tones. One needs sensitivity to notice them. My mother was annoyed when my teacher pointed towards her while rendering a composition which said a husband is the only shelter for a pious wife. My mother was a pioneer woman sculptor doing temple iconographic sculptures. Agitated she asked, ‘Why shouldn’t I sculpt?’ I was just 16. I decided never to sing any composition that confines women within four walls. Some call these compositions, bhakti, I say is brahmanical melodramatic patriarchy. I decided to transition when I was 47. It was only Kanku who stood by my decision. I knew who I was from the beginning but like many transmen, I had no language to explain who I was. Many transmen for several reasons can’t transition and live with dysphoria. My mother Kanku did this, she wore pants, she rode horses, fell in love with stones and made sculptures. Should I listen to myself or continue being Sumathi? The name itself was a problem. That is what every “good woman” in old Malayalam cinema was called. Forget good, I am not a woman at all. I was fascinated with the voice of Pt Bhimsen Joshi, then Gangubai Hangal followed by (Mallikarjun) Mansoor and Zohra (Bai Agarwali). Which was my voice? Man’s voice, woman’s voice, or other conditioned voices in which many of my trans brothers and sisters sang, was not the voice I was looking for. Rama Rao, my teacher, told me my voice was whoever I was. I developed a relationship with my female voice. Now, during transitioning, I am back to wanting to know what my voice is. Till her last breath, my Kanku was eager to know the changes in my voice. Gender conditioning would ask me to sing like a woman, caste-based gender conditioning in a well-mannered, melodious voice. A good female singer is expected to be in a silk saree, wear gold jewelry and to be married. One teacher refused to teach me because I was unmarried. By 35 I was singing wearing gender neutral clothes: this never went down well with so called connoisseurs. I learnt about caste in music, not by reading books but by the stories that my guru shared. Who learns to play what instruments and to make which instruments… …everything is a function of caste. The Devadasi system is also not free of hierarchies. The question of mass and class was clearly a control of sexuality of women. Singing is not about purity. Singing is just like our existence. It needs humor, pain, screaming, imperfections, disgust and change. When musicians like Illayaraja Sir have shown there is nothing definite, my question is how can gender identities be definite? Yes, back then while singing I did question my own gender identity. Though I never married a man, I never considered myself married to classical music. I was and still am a keep of Hindi cinema music. The world of classical music is exclusive. There are many who can’t be bothered with this ivory tower. My friends, trans activist Revathi and Thimmakka a sanitation worker crushed my ivory tower. Revathi once asked me what I did for a living. She didn't understand when I said I was a classical singer. When I sang for her, she said, ‘Oh this! The songs that they sang on TV when Indira Gandhi died.’ It is Rama Rao who taught me to sing anywhere. Protest sites, sex workers sites, garbage segregation centres, slums… Once I landed up at an event organized by the RSS. I chose to sing Sufi compositions. This was the end of my performances on mainstream stages. I stayed away from my extended family up until my mother’s death recently. My community is my family. When I lit my mother’s pyre without any rites as she wished, I could do it as a man. A Transman. I am finally who I am. I am my body, my voice, my thoughts, my politics and my music. But I’m still in search of my changing voice. A child’s lips are locked with keys of dharma. But now the child is a butterfly. The cocoon is broken. Though the internal organs in the body were gendered at birth as a woman, the desire is to become a man.
"Beyond the Red Circles" Reiko Shimizu. reFrame#touchpointexhibition

"Beyond the Red Circles" Reiko Shimizu. reFrame#touchpointexhibition

Artist's Statement “Two artists, Reiko Shimizu from Japan and Polly Laiyla from Bangladesh, were to look for the roots of humanity beyond the crisis of human identity, beyond the obstruction of the flag and nationality. A red circle on white, a Japanese flag, and a red circle on green, a Bangladesh flag disappears there and start to speak of an open world.” Crack International Art Camp at Kustia, Bangladesh in December 2019. Born in Japan as a grand daughter of a Buddhist monk, studied art in New York, built a family in Brazil and living in India since 2012. Her cross-culture background spanning different cultures has given her a unique set of conceptual tools to connect and give meaning to the environment around her. Her multi disciplinary practice is a mixture of visual, sculptural, conceptual, performative, spiritual and musical expression. She often works with artists from various disciplines merging cultures and ideas to play during live ‘happening’ performances where she endures, repeats, risks and commands as artist. Her concern with the universal theme of human existence and the everyday lived experience are reflected in all her works. Her works are shown internationally. TouchPoint was a call for artistic works on what ‘touch’ has come to mean in the times of the coronavirus pandemic. The works in the Exhibition speak to multiple experiences and anxieties being experienced, the strange monotonies being borne and diaries of disquiet and isolation being recorded, in overt and silent ways. Each of the works touches on the issue in a specific way, touches our hearts differently, and occasionally, a raw nerve we can no longer protect from some truths. View TouchPoint here: https://www.reframeonline.net/exhibitions