resting on insomnia

26 march to 11 may, 2018

body, room, labor
rusted nails, rusted fingers, artist’s text, printed found text on paper
clay slip, screen prints on wall
drawings, seeds, footprints
needled white cotton, body, other bodies, janeu (white holy thread worn by men but symbolizing goddesses)
collaborative healing of the victim and the victimizer
ceramic jug and trays - holder of earth
blocked window, somebody’s dead plant in pot, dead spider bodies
artist hair brush, kumkum (red pigment used by women as a symbol of marriage) in glass bottle
love, non-violence, motherhood and their archives

it all started when i came to know that india was outraged over an unfortunate event, where one section of people protested for the victim while the other protested for the victimizer. the event was a gangrape and a murder of an eight year old child inside a temple. although the media picked up talking about religion being the cause, where the girl was from a muslim nomadic community and the rapists were hindus, what would an eight year old child understand of the religion? whatever the case, the basic human belief was shaken. many people who protested for the victim were physically abused and traumatized.

this is not the first time, nor is this the only time, more often than not, 2 out of every 3 sexual harassment cases go unreported. even with what is reported, our minds have got so used to violence, that we take our own bodies and feelings for granted, as easily as turning pages of the book.

on researching further, i was shocked to find a news reported every single day of 2018 - just in the northern part of my country - india. this makes me so uncomfortable thinking about the scale at which the sexual harassment takes place - reported and unreported. as a reaction to this, and feeling vulnerable, i stuck nails on all my studio walls including the door. while i never had furniture in my workspace, i used the floor to sit to read to eat to work to think to make, and walls acted as support for my back. during my research on this matter of sexual abuse, i spent long hours performing resistance with my own body, to not to rest, to not touch, not to be touched, to be vigilant, to protect femininity, to understand the insecurity of existing in this world.

given all this, i wanted to reverse the pages of the book, by removing the punched papers carefully from the nails; using clay to put a mark on the paper using fingers, or hand—mark of healing, mark of motherhood, mark of life. wiping the finger on the white handkerchief. after healing the victim, the nails were removed from the wall and put it in the jug filled with clay slip+water—healing the victimizer. each time a nail was removed, i removed a needle from my dress and stitched it with janeu, a holy thread worn by men but it symbolized the powers of goddesses. alternatively, the participants also removed a needle and stitched my dress. once the whole dress was stitched, the needles removed, all the nails removed from the walls, i stitched the handkerchieves on my dress—as a sign of having healed completely. 

References:

  1. https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv16.pdf

  2. https://www.rainn.org/statistics/criminal-justice-system

  3. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2014/12/09/the-truth-about-a-viral-graphic-on-rape-statistics/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.81dae7d6ec60

  4. https://www.nsvrc.org/sites/default/files/publications_nsvrc_factsheet_media-packet_statistics-about-sexual-violence_0.pdf

  5. http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/facts-and-figures

  6. http://zeenews.india.com/uttarakhand/uttarakhand-high-court-for-death-sentence-to-those-who-rape-minors-2072352.html