The Red Voice
30th - 31st October Siddhartha Art Gallery
I was so excited to apply for the residency programme in Space A Artist Initiative in Kathmandu, as this opportunity would give me the ability to focus on research and experimentation in an inimitable geographical set-up with many social and Buddhist cultural similarities to Sri Lanka yet unique in its own way to take my work in some very interesting new directions.
Two weeks I took to visit many rural areas of Nepal before arriving at Space A filled with so many emotions, a fighting spirit and a responsibility to speak up about the social issues that touched me in the deepest part of my conscience. I visited ‘Tharu’ women and participated in the ‘Jitiya’ festival where I got an opportunity to dive into their lives and their challenges. At an age they must carry the books to school and get educated, they were married and were carrying the whole responsibility of a family on their shoulders. My vision started turning into black and white while the bloody red ‘Sindoor’ and the bead necklace representing their marriage started appearing very bright.
I saw adult women doing heavy work as labours carrying weight, looking after children and cattle while they had no basic rights including voicing their opinion in the family or making decisions in their life. Lack of education among women have robbed them of better opportunity in their careers. When I heard about the harmful cultural practice of ‘Chhaupadi’ the social tradition related to "menstrual taboo" in the western part of Nepal for Hindu women, which prohibits them from participating in normal family activities during a menstruation period, as they are considered "impure" the red stain they carried in their forehead started being more and more bright in my eyes.
The red voice I am trying to bring through this body of work portraying Nepali women is a creative intervention to start a discussion.