Fear, violation, guilt, shame, withdrawal, frustration, resistance---these are just some of the emotions victims of stalking experience. And Aishwarya Arumbakkam, a Mumbai-based film-maker and photographer, has captured these emotions in her exhibition ‘Stalked: Scars in time and space’.
To be held between March 20 and 23 at Atta Galatta, Aishwarya will be taking viewers through the dark world of stalking victims. A photo essay by Aishwarya, the launch of a limited edition zine that discusses stalking by Bhavana Vyas Vipparthi and Kabini Amin, a contemporary dance performance by Priyanka Pai, a panel discussion and live poetry performance by Shikha Malaviya will form the crux of the exhibition.
“Stalking is a very relevant topic in this day and age and yet it is extremely understated, misrepresented and repressed in the public domain. People don’t want to talk about it and when they do talk about it, they don’t do it in the right manner,” says Aishwarya.
The photo exhibition features real life victims of stalking and in these incredibly vulnerable yet oddly liberating images, one can see the confusion and trauma attached to the victims’ identities, although you never directly see their faces.
“There are two reasons behind this decision. These victims are very conscious of their identities. To put their face out again and invite scrutiny would be unfair. The second reason is that maybe when the viewers look at these pictures, they might see a bit of themselves in them which might force them to think of the topic more seriously,” she explains.
The film-maker worked for over six months on the photo essay, speaking and meeting with victims she personally knew and then went ahead and created a larger network and that is when many came forward to share their stories.
The exhibition, which was held in Mumbai in December 2012, aims to lift the veil off the stalking topic through various mediums. “When I decided that I wanted to bring the exhibition to Bangalore, I made a conscious decision to collaborate with artistes from the city or who are currently working here, so as to bring an element of relevance as well as create a local dialogue. I definitely don’t see the ball stopping here,” explains Aishwarya, an alumni of National Institute of Design.
Aishwarya, who is single, feels an increasing sense of vulnerability and lack of safety when in Mumbai.
“So, this exhibition is a way to come to terms, deal with it and finally get past the feeling,” she says.
Aishwarya also states that the intention of the exhibition is not to spark a movement or a campaign against stalking, but more importantly to make people think twice the next time they discuss about stalking among their peers.
“A lot of people tend to make it a smaller issue than it really is. But maybe once they go through the exhibition, they may never again be insensitive,” she signs off.