If you visit Khuli Khirkee - a shared co-working space in Khirki Extension - on most weekends, you will meet dancers, musicians, theatre practitioners, and others creating, practising, and performing art. This weekend, the space has been converted into a disparate museum - Museum of Rape Threats and Sexism.
A project by Gurugram-based research scholar Isha Yadav, this museum exhibits crowd-sourced screenshots that reflect instances of misogyny, sexism, abuse, assault, and violence against women to paradoxically "memorialise verbal violence that women go through every day". In works since early 2020, the museum was finally unveiled - after a round of community curation - on Friday, and concludes today.
Demonstrating instances of violence
On entering this space, the first thing you witness is a trigger warning stating the extent of sensitive material on display. Inside, you will find more than 70 golden frames, each with neatly printed screenshots - satirically applauding the harassers.
Some of these prints also have achiever’s ribbons in red placed against them. Yadav tells us, "During community curation, I asked people to place them against the ones they found the most disturbing."
Along with instances of violence, Yadav has also displayed three cloth pieces that are embroidered with narratives that Yadav collected through discussions and interviews of female contributors. While some read an in-depth account of harassment as narrated by women, others have women's reactions to the idea of such a museum. "While the screenshots are a proof of what happened to them, these cloth pieces showcase what they were thinking," shared Yadav.
Role of social justice art
Other than being a site of confrontational art, this exhibition also is part of a larger social movement. A close look at these screenshots will give the viewer a glimpse of the magnitude of violence happening via social media - that has been normalised - and takes into account the role of factors such as caste, class, religion, etc.
"I am not conducting this experiment only for the sake of art but it is also a social movement. The magnitude of the research shows how much there is. The selected screenshots are very intersectional and give an idea of the abuse that exists," she says.
The highly delicate nature of the matter on display makes the atmosphere, by Yadav’s admission, confrontational, and negative for many. Asmi Gauba (19) who we met at the museum on Saturday echoed a common thought that other visitors may feel.
"As soon as you enter, you can feel it… Despite being aware of what you are stepping into, you are quite taken aback. We [women] dismiss these experiences but when you see them on the wall this way, you realise how real they are," concluded Gauba.
The frames and the cloth pieces - featuring testimonies of about 65 women–highlight an issue often absent in discourses around women safety, proclaiming how often "the silence echoes".
CHECK IT OUT
WHAT: Museum of Rape Threats and Sexism
WHEN: Ends today
WHERE: Khuli Khirkee, Khirkee Extension