[Reader-list] blank noise: lost and found.

Jasmeen P machleetank at gmail.com
Thu Jun 2 15:31:25 IST 2005

One Night Stand: public participatory performance to reclaim the
streets. May 27 Brigade Road Coffee Day 6 pm. Please call to
participate. 98868 40612

27th may 2004

Payal, Romal, Sandhya and I are drenched as we enter at Coffee House
on MG Road. Time 4 30 pm.

I begin to believe that god is a man against feminism.

It continues to pour and I receive a hundred text messages:

"Is it on?"

"Sorry I don't think I can make it."

"Am stuck in traffic."

6 pm:

It is still drizzling. The traffic is less. We move from coffee house
to coffee day. The people there are nice, smiley, friendly.

Out of the 13 expected the people that showed up were Payal, Rahima,
Romal, Sandhya, Hemangini, Rahima, Namita. Umesh.  Smriti, Umang and
Yashas showed up as documenters of the event..

People required: 14
Numbers present: 8
People missing: 6

"Let's get people on the street to participate!"

The event for the evening took various avatars while being introduced
to different people.

At the traffic signal we say, "Hello, we are doing social work here.
Can you put these posters up at the police traffic signals?" we also
let him know that we were going to do a small performance without
interrupting the traffic.

( The traffic police man was a nice man. He whistled and we would
exit. No problem on that front at all. )

Or "hello we are doing a project on street sexual harassment…err….eve
teasing and we invite you to participate. Would you like to be an
alphabet of the sentence, ' Y R U LOOKING AT ME?' and appear/disappear
at traffic signals?

We targeted the shop "Health and Glow": a shop where one can buy all
the girly things from body wash to cosmetics to sanitary napkins.
Rahima, Namita and I went about introducing the project idea to both
customers and the working staff. We were lucky to find participants in
the customers there. Neha, Vikram, Siraj and Rajitha there. THANKYOU!!

(Everyone is all smiles and we walk onto the road.)

Yes it happened. 

The reactions included curiosity, surprise, discomfort, more
questions, public support.

"I think people were willing to listen. it was a good place to catch
them. But they need a slogan. Something condensed so that they get the
point. There were also some inquisitive people who got into a dialogue
and supported it." Smriti Chanchani.

Namita felt that we could illustrate different characters through the
clothes we wear during the performance.

My response: to bring on the different people and include them in the
performance versus us trying to illustrate their presence.

Plan B:
To do it again. It is evolving. Will keep you posted.


Hi everyone,

For those of you wondering about the incoherence from my part here's a
'brief' update-
My mails and the blog seem a bit confusing I hope this mail should
clear things a little-

The project in two phases:
The first phase was with 'dealing with the victim hood' of street
sexual harassment.
The second phase is towards being proactive and confronting.

Here are some of the tangible materials I have right now with which I
would want to work-

-	A handful of clothes; -from the 'did you ask for it' project (most
of it my own. I'm still hoping people will send me theirs)
-	Testimonies via sound.
-	The news piece.
-	Newspaper reports
-	Emails- responses to the project- responses to clothes email-'did
you ask for it'. Testimonies.
-	Photographs of stalkers.
-	Smaller sub projects: a project on women bus conductor's perception
of safety in relation to the uniform she wears daily. (photo and
-	Questionnaire results: questions on clothing and safety, answered by
college students.
-	Documentation of presentation
-	A floating group of I'm interested' participants.
-	Documentation of performances.

About Building testimonies in a public space
I was concerned with the form I would adapt. I toyed around with the
idea of 'cleansing and spitting'- I thought of an interactive sink
into which you could expunge your memories (of these unpleasant
incidents). I'm not sure if I would like to go through with this
because while this would fit perfectly in a space like a gallery I
don't see it there at this point in time.

There were also initial ideas of confession booths around the street
and broadcasting testimonies. I am not convinced about this either
(plus the whole religious connotations that come with confession

The third idea was to use clothing to build testimonies-for this I've
collected my clothes, my mother's clothes-clothes that we wore when we
were sexually threatened. The initial response from people was that
this was a great idea and that they wanted to help but soon the
excitement subsided and degenerated into the standard, familiar

-I don't remember what I was wearing
-I burnt it, but can I send you something similar?
-I don't agree with you on this one-It's not about the clothes
-I don't want to give it you, they are my favorite pair/I can't give it away
-why don't you take a photograph of it? Or ask people to send you
photos of them in it??

Despite these minor hiccups I definitely want to take this part
forward. It is ongoing.

This could never be an isolated arts project. People fear the word
activist. In the initial stages (2003) I did too. While I don't have a
problem with my project being 'activist art' or 'community art' or
'public art' disillusionment creeps in when the people I'm supposed to
be working with don't respond the way I would expect them to (not
turning up for meetings, not being responsive enough…etc).

I've been thinking about 'approach', 'strategy', 'transparency', and
the language or tone addressing participants and wonder if I should be
relying on other participants or just going ahead with it (which seems
to be the easy and convenient way even though it defies the whole
purpose of what I'm trying to achieve).

I'm still grappling with these conflicts and would be grateful for any

Things I actually did :

Went around to colleges looking for participants. Most of the colleges
were busy with the exams but some of them were nice enough to give me
time, space and students to make 2 hour presentations. The
presentations made it clear that this wasn't some
feminist/ultra-feminist project and that anyone (men especially) was
welcome. About 200 pamphlets, questionnaires and enthusiastic 'yes's'
later 3 people showed up for the meetings.

Bangalore University was an eye-opener. No one wanted to
participate-they either had exams or were concerned with the
'morality' of the whole issue.

These moral issues not impinging I've still decided to work on my
immoral project with smaller groups (the most promising one seems to
be a group of journalism students from Christ College)

The concrete ideas that came out of these meetings were

A)	A newspaper

B)	 A street performance on the street with help of costumes designed
by students of  fashion at srishti,nift.

C )Have also been meeting with people who own cafes and have TVs
installed; they    could broadcast the news video there. I've already
discussed this with owners of cafes who seemed open and enthusiastic.)

Things I  am doing/ have happened and are still happening.
The night walk in collaboration with Pukar.( was to happen on the 20th
of May in Mumbai, it didn't quite work but was quite an experience.)
on the 20th of May, Friday or the 27th:  key performers wearing a
reflective badge will perform through the night in Marine Drive in
Bombay and Brigade Road in Bangalore :

I'm still trying to figure out ways in which it wont be an exclusive
'feminist performance'.

Should it be transparent and direct?

In terms of form, I have been in dialogue with Ashok Sukumaran. We
have chosen to go ahead with reflectors. The one/ two main performers
in each city will be wearing a costume made of reflectors. In addition
they will also be carrying speakers that will disperse testimonies of
women who have experienced street sexual harassment. I can see the
performance being static. That is just standing for two hours while
the people are walking by. Others present are free to do what they
want; they will also be wearing reflector badges. Hopefully people
will keep joining in, there will be a floating crowd of women in
reflectors. Every woman walking there will wear a reflector.

In performance I will be dispersing testimonies of women who have
experienced street sexual harassment, implicitly.

I am also hoping to gather about 10 people who will choreograph the
performance with me. For example (Brigade Road) there are men who just
hang around on the railing of the footpath, outside movie halls,
against the walls; something a woman will be less inclined to do). 
This would happen through the night.

I'd be very grateful for any feedback/suggestions

PS: eagerly waiting for the clothes.



ph: + 91 98868 40612

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