The Female Gazes

Pallavi Singh's Palyboy on Acrylic
Pallavi Singh’s Palyboy on Acrylic

Gender violence has closely been avoided by the art folk. Afraid to brand themselves as ‘feminists’, the quiet among these people has stirred a curator who feels that more than a gender problem, violence is a humanitarian issue that needs urgent brooding.

The personal perhaps has never before mingled so closely with the political when hordes of angry Indians surged through the streets demanding an answer for the December 16 Delhi gang rape case. The genuine protestors and the provocateurs painted a large canvas of frustration and an overall break in the silent bearing of gender violence that this patriarchal country has comfortably kept up.

Silence has largely been the language of women across the world. While a woman had to be seen not heard, as the popular adage goes, they have silently withstood and witnessed gender violence. Rare Acts of Political Engagement, an art installation aimed to break the stereotyped woman who did everything apart from rising to defend herself. The exhibition is not, as would seem ostensibly, an upheaval of feminist anger, rather it is a feminist critique of the atrocities against women and an aesthetic production of a political engagement that the artists infer as their right.

Johny ML, the curator of the show stands apart from the 24 women with feminist leanings as the only man involved in the project. What he says of this speaks of a silent art community that is otherwise considered as sensitive. “As a male curator and art critic I waited for some female curator to come up with a project that would discuss gender disparities at the wake of Delhi Gang rape issue. But for a month or so I did not see anyone doing it.” He explains that many from the art fraternity are reluctant to be branded as feminists, this he blames on ‘social perceptions’ and ‘market realities’.

Rare Acts of Political Engagement acronymed R.A.P.E is not simply a dig at sensationalism or a reiteration of a topical event. According to Johny, the show is rare in the fact that these women have been given complete artistic freedom to express how they look at themselves being a victim of circumstances of patriarchy and dominance. It is a direct result of the personal realm affecting the political sphere, a much needed change of course that follows gender violence.

Works such as ‘Touch Your Hymen is Still Stuck With Your Vagina’ by Arshi Irshad is a commentary on the over sexualised body of the woman that often leads to physical torture. Through her intricate work of alternating body parts and writing in Urdu, Irshad aims to raise the viewers’ sensitivity of how violence of the female body has been a fetish since history. Kavita Singh Kale in ‘Gear Up’ brings out the irony in the governmental system of surveillance which is male chauvinistic and intrusive in its gaze and fails to pin-point evils in society that hoodwink this ‘ever-seeing’ eye and indulge in gender atrocities.

Kanika Sharma uses sanitary pads with text printed in red to juxtapose the unreasonable statements by political, religious and social leaders. The pads are physical metaphors to the taboo that surrounds womanhood and chastity. The natural path of pubescence and menstruation is seen as a ‘ruthless application of power to enslave’ a woman in the garb of physical incompetence and fatigue. Bold statements such as ‘My body is mine and no one has the right to violate it’ speak of a larger picture of exasperation that women have felt toward gender violence.


Meena Kandasamy, noted poet and social activist speaks of the multifarious channels of female suppression that happen in a Hindu scenario. Her triptych, ‘Bondage and Submission’ is a photography of a rarely photographed female body that is weighed down by societal markers like the ‘mangalsutra’, the sacred thread and the fulfilment of religious requisites have made her an adorned object of subjugation.

The phallic metaphor is mostly visible in most of the works. A reversal of the ‘male gaze’ is seen in Pari Bhaishya’s ‘Uniform’. Drawing from a personal experience when a policeman tried to show her his nudity, Baishya, by showing a complete nude man with a police cap and a flaccid penis aims at closure.

The fragmentation of the female body into parts has been explored by Megha Joshi’s ‘Object’ where surrogate silicon nipples are attached to a horn, daring the man to think of the implications of groping a female.

The works at the installation question hegemonic masculinity that men use against women and the trashing of a perverted physicality that they seem empowers them. Sex has been seen as a duty to be fulfilled by women and by questioning this mis-conception, these gifted artists are inching closer to building an egalitarian approach to gender by both the sexes.

As Meena Kandasamy speaks of the power of art in the course of change, “I think art always is a talking point and a space for dialogue. Because art makes a statement, it deserves and calls for a statement in return. While I have the lived experience of what it means to inhabit a lower caste woman’s body, I was making this statement on a larger basis. “


Published by

Yashaswini Swamynathan

Utopia would see my feet dipping in warm waters of a sandy beach as I watch my dogs run about in merriment, I'd go back to the book on conspirators of the world which satisfies my paranoia.As I ponder over the 22 years of life I have spent in my beloved city Bangalore- studying literature and Psychology, I get up to brew myself some strong coffee, lest I slip away into a dream.

154 thoughts on “The Female Gazes”

  1. Pingback: get rid of bv
  2. Pingback: blue pills
  3. Pingback: signs austin
  4. Pingback: LaGrange Georgia
  5. Pingback: poker
  6. Pingback: Air Duct Cleaning
  7. Pingback: kinderwagen köln
  8. Pingback: Bandeau Bikinis
  9. Pingback: Media
  10. Pingback: access
  11. Pingback: Go get em kid
  12. Pingback: limo services
  13. Pingback: My Homepage
  14. Pingback: mobile website
  15. Pingback: buy life insurance
  16. Pingback: barbour sale
  17. Pingback: install app
  18. Pingback: Youtube Downloader
  19. Pingback: click here
  20. Pingback: parking
  21. Pingback:
  22. Pingback: trainer
  23. Pingback: Alla3 Cuffie4
  24. Pingback: XtIXkguc4d
  25. Pingback: klimop schutting
  26. Pingback: how to tell
  27. Pingback: dentist in wells
  28. Pingback: deezer gratuit
  29. Pingback: Ashley Hale
  30. Pingback: gamma blue 11s
  31. Pingback: ugg boots on sale
  32. Pingback: Marketing
  33. Pingback: pakiety w nc+
  34. Pingback: australian website
  35. Pingback: aussie deals
  36. Pingback: find a babysitter
  37. Pingback: instrucciones
  38. Pingback: rebelmouse page
  39. Pingback: simple golf swing
  40. Pingback: property search
  41. Pingback: coach models
  42. Pingback: pcb manufactory
  43. Pingback: free e cig trial
  44. Pingback: internet services
  45. Pingback: description
  46. Pingback: RSC
  47. Pingback: Click Here
  48. Pingback: website
  49. Pingback: find this
  50. Pingback: nc platforma
  51. Pingback: e cigarette
  52. Pingback: to speak up
  53. Pingback: non slip coating
  54. Pingback: internet marketing
  55. Pingback: super rencontre
  56. Pingback: article
  57. Pingback: check my reference
  58. Pingback: discover here
  59. Pingback: electronic hookah
  60. Pingback: hcg 1234 drops
  61. Pingback: blu cigs review
  62. Pingback: e cigs
  63. Pingback: hcg diet drops
  64. Pingback: biznes
  65. Pingback: ekonomiak
  66. Pingback: e cig trial kit
  67. Pingback: well baby site
  68. Pingback: click to read more
  69. Pingback: music chords
  70. Pingback: ZaufanaStrona
  71. Pingback: how to make an app
  72. Pingback: bbb 2014
  73. Pingback: essential workouts
  74. Pingback: water ionizer scam
  75. Pingback: hcg drops review
  76. Pingback: floor decor ga

Feedback welcome!