R.A.P.E.(Rare Acts of Political Engagement) could prove to be an interesting show with an intelligent mix of creative manifestations. Twenty-four women artists from all over India will come together to voice their thoughts through an exhibition curated by art critic JohnyML from April 10 to 30 at Art Bull, Lado Sarai.
At first, the title may sound strange but it resonates with the times we live in today. The idea cropped up in the wake of the Nirbhaya rape case but isn’t necessarily inspired from that one incident. “R.A.P.E is an attempt to bring in a variety of visual responses to the atrocious notion of keeping women as secondary citizens. Despite all feminist interventions, women are still subjugated, both in the private and public domains. Physical violence against women in the form of rape is not a biological act of the perverts but a strong imposition of power that often goes unchecked and unpunished,” says Johny ML.
Artists such as Kavita Singh Kale, Maya Pillai, Pallavi Singh, Kanika Sharm, Sabrina Osborne, Manmeet Devgun, Manmeet Sandhu, Garima Jayadevan, Neha Lavingia and many others are participating in the exhibit. “As a curator, I do not expect the artists to literally translate this issue into visual metaphors. Instead, I’d like them to look at the whole idea of reawakening the conscience at the face of a crisis like this. It is a war of our own ideas about life in general.”
Ever since the December 16 gangrape happened, Johny has been feeling unsettled. He finds himself completely disappointed with the system that delays and denies justice. However, he is happy that the Nirbhaya case has ignited the conscience of the entire country. “Artists too are morally agitated but are not the kind of people who translate a social occurrence into a piece of art at the drop of a hat. They take time to contemplate and find adequate metaphors to convey their ideas through visual format. But it was my moral responsibility to activate their interest in issues like these,” he says.
Johny often finds himself asking questions like ‘how do we locate ourselves in these days of crisis in the larger political sphere’, ‘are we going to take everything lying down’, ‘as artists how are we going to express our angst and agitation against social evils like rape’, ‘how do we protest against a male-dominated society’ and many others. “I would like my artists to react to this concept and come out with the strongest works of art that would remain in the conscience of the people for a long time and be a part of the general art and historical discourse in India,” says Johny.
The Sunday Standard