Vikram Phukan, Guwahati
Vikram is a Mumbai-based theatre practitioner and stage commentator. He has written extensively for various publications and is the artistic director of Theatre Jil Jil Ramamani, and co-founder of InQueerAble, a platform for queer theatre. In the theatre, his most recent work as writer and director was the play Those Left Behind Things, a play on asylum seekers.
The Adventures of Jil Jil is a whimsical tale about a comic character from a Tamil classic. Some say she has climbed out of the pages of a giant illustrated book written by a famous poet, who could never claim her back. Jil Jil is unbridled and spontaneous and defies description. The play has been developed as part of Indian Ensemble’s First Draft Ideas Lab.
Sohini is an illustrator from the suburbs of Bengal. She uprooted herself from her hometown to work for a livelihood, but has always returned to her roots for her most honest and intimate expressions. She finds it difficult to locate herself in the heteronormative matrix and self-admittedly continues to hang in limbo.
Sohini is building a book with some interactive tools that reimagine the rhymes and songs from Bangla oral traditions and talk about gender roles, in the light of nightmares from her own childhood. She will also be using texts gathered from friends, exhibiting similar stories and characters. She plans to keep the texts unchanged and restructure them visually, primarily using graphic illustration and embroidery.
Sangram, an aspiring dancer has reconciled with his lack of conformity (genre-wise) by exploring movement in different spaces. A movement enthusiast with a love for performance, he is currently involved as a creator and associate artist with multiple collectives based in Kolkata and otherwise. He also identifies himself as a curious mover.
Sangram, deriving his source of movement from a 70s club-style namely Waacking/Whacking, is curious to understand how to contemporize the movement with a series of explorations with fellow artists to address the basic question, "Can Waacking/Whacking evolve from being a physical language of gender to building upon the vocabulary of gender outside the binary forms of movement?"
Shrishti Chatterjee, Kozhikode
Shrishti is a visual artist and researcher. Having grown up in different cities, it became important for her to ponder on identity and migration in urban spaces. She hopes to be able to create work that examines everyday experiences of living in the city through the mediums of film, design and visual storytelling.
The elusive world of the ‘bachelor woman’ hopes to reframe the identity of the single migrant woman in the city. It does so while examining the private spaces of women and their negotiations with privacy, safety, freedom and pleasure. Public places in cities offer little to no access and safety for women, what then can reclaiming private spaces like one’s home mean for the collective experience of belonging to the city?
Shruthi Veena Vishwanath, Pune
& Sylvia Hinz, Berlin
Shruthi is a musician, composer and educator. She works at the intersection of form and label - incorporating the classical and the folk, multiple languages, poetry and movement into music. At the heart of her work are the mystic poets of South Asia, especially those at the margins of gender and caste. She has performed extensively, both in India and overseas.
Sylvia is praised for her equally fierce and bold dramatic performance style; she is one of the leading recorder players worldwide, specialised in contemporary music and improvisation. She plays solo recitals and concerts, fosters international collaborations with other artists in general, and engages in #ArtAsActivism. Sylvia performs with her project Catenation and her band Coma Cluster Void.
Resonxnce - Dissonxnce is a musical diary by two female musicians, made as a response to our lives around the pandemic that challenges notions of what musicality and melody is. Is melody musical, is dissonance musical? Through a call-and-response every day, the two artists will weave together the stories of their lives across continents in a sonic piece for the times.
Sohini S, New Delhi
Art was always meant to bring people together. Except this year, when we were not allowed to assemble. But, that has not stopped us from coming together. Even as news of cancellations of festivals from across the world started pouring in, we were determined to keep the spirit of the Gender Bender alive in some form, and in this (as always) we were joined by our partners at Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Bangalore.
We received nearly 200 applications and it was the quality, passion and conviction in the applications that made us take a unanimous decision (with the Jury members) that this year, instead of 10 we would award 15 grants.
What is clearer than ever is that art is at the crux of bringing positive change and increased empathy in our lives. Now more than ever we need this transformative power of art, because 2020 and everything it has brought with it, is unprecedented. We hope that it will make the work created under these extraordinary circumstances all the more special.
Gender Bender 2020 is not an online festival, we have asked our grantees to create the physical works in their own time when better conditions prevail, what will be on display is the effort and the work-in-progress versions of their creations.
Aamir Rabbani, New Delhi
Aamir was born in Muzaffarpur, Bihar and holds a BFA (painting) from Jamia Millia Islamia University. He graduated first class in 2017 and has been working in New Delhi ever since. Aamir has been obsessed with the themes of sexuality, gender, desire, intimacy and love. His work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally, with many shows focused on gender, sexuality and identity.
The project explores the Launda Naach (loosely translates to the boy dance) of Bihar and how these dancers are minority artists marginalized by society. Aamir feels their art and stories resonate with his previous work. This series will explore how Launda Naach’s artistic heritage sets itself apart from generic Band Baaja (musical procession) and its popular mainstream appeal.
Anonnya is a transgender activist, spearheading a movement for transgender and Hijra rights in Bangladesh. As a dancer they have performed extensively both nationally, and internationally using art as a medium to communicate ideas and to heal the wounds inflicted by a society that is both indifferent and oppressive.
Anonnya feels that civil society restricts gender to a binary resulting in the overlooking of violence against transgender people, and a lack of narrative based on their suffering. Anonnya aims to create a dance performance drawing from the narratives of pain and discrimination faced by the transgender and Hijra community of South Asia in living their daily lives.
Anonnya Banik, Dhaka
Anoushka Kurien, Chennai
Anoushka is a Chennai-based dancer. Her choreographic practice currently looks at framing ideas and experiences of physicality that negotiate the notion of perception and the quality of attention and experience proposed by live performance. Her recent works include To Be Danced, In Rooms and Restricted View. She is now working on What Talk of Body.
What Talk of Body stems from a few questions around the body that look at the ways we locate, unlearn and relocate our bodies and being. It tries to take on the actuality, precarity and possibility of a technology-dominated future and how we could bring the conversation to a questioning, critical, practice of the body through live performance.
C G Salamander is a comic journalist and writer whose work has appeared in The Nib, The Mint, Buzzfeed, and Indian Quarterly to name a few. His picture book Puu was published by Scholastic last year. Salamander is also a writer and an editor.
Samidha is an illustrator and animator who has worked on numerous children's books and comics. She works out of Studio Dhamisa in Ahmednagar, and loves using the visual medium to explore a wide range of topics and themes.
Scavenging is a nonfiction comic that aims to examine and educate people about the inhuman practice of manual scavenging. The comic aims to cover the wide array of work that falls under the umbrella term of manual scavenging; examine the gender and cast breakup of manual scavengers; and finally explore the shortcomings of the government in enforcing the ban and providing adequate rehabilitation.
C G Salamander, Chennai & Samidha Gunjal, Ahmednagar
Chikka Dodda Art Lab i.e. ‘small big art lab’ is a Bangalore based ‘indie’ art and activism lab founded by Pranav Patadiya and Satchit Puranik. While Pranav works with Cloudtail, he also pursues theatre. Satchit is a multilingual writer, theatre maker & film maker with work in around 9 languages, and over a thousand shows across a dozen countries.
Mard Hamdard / Male Empath is a collage film which builds onto the footage of other Hindustani films (Mainstream Bombay cinema & beyond) to decode, demystify and deconstruct the portrayals of (non) toxic masculinity (ies) in 107 years of Indian cinema. The essay documentary revives a humane, progressive, vulnerable, and most importantly, empathic look at the Indian Male on celluloid.
Chikka Dodda Art Lab, Bangalore
Gargi is an activist, writer and a filmmaker who works at understanding identities at the margins, and makes associations and alliances by creating work which is relevant not just as a matter of aesthetics but also to the undocumented histories visible to her.
The short film Madhuravanam (The Sweet Forest) is an attempt to have a closer look at a queer friend who is no longer alive; A friend who underwent the notorious 'conversion therapy' after coming out as a bisexual, a tragic episode in a short life. The film will celebrate her existence marked intensely with poetry and other arts.
Gargi Harithakam, Kozhikode
Nandagopan is a theatre practitioner based in Kerala. Having studied at the Thrissur School of Drama, he works with fellow artists to create meaningful dialogue and social change through his theatre practice. He has collaborated and worked with several theatre companies across the state in recent times on experimental theatre productions.
Nandagopan's project aims to explore the complexities associated with gender discourse. At the heart of the theatre production is a man who travels through the centuries, and his encounter with a transgender person. The plot of the play dwells on gender conflicts, and conversations that follow between the duo.
Purshottam uses paintings to express his emotions and feelings in his work. He chooses subjects inspired by observing everyday events and objects. His works consist of depth, space division, sensitiveness, motion, values and colour scheme. Through his works, he aims to understand himself better.
Through this project Purushottam aims to represent the ‘third gender’ in his paintings. To bust the myths about transgender persons that people find hard to accept. Inspired by Frida Kahlo’s self-portraits, he intends to embed himself in these works. The work aims to build bridges between genders by focussing on the everyday issues of his subjects like civil rights, employment, health care and adoption rights.
Purshottam Pawar, Mumbai
Rashmi Ravikumar, Bangalore
Rashmi is a theatre director, actor, translator and facilitator. The intersection of Kannada and English theatre as well as that of playback and proscenium theatre is an area that she loves working with. She also has a background in psychology, which she often uses as a tool in playmaking. She is drawn to gender, mental health and absurdism in performance.
Amma makkalu ellinda bartave (Mommy where do babies come from?), is an anthology of Kannada stories about womxn’s sex, sexuality and desire. In the largely patriarchal setup of Kannada theatre, it looks at reclaiming the space of curiosity, permissions, beliefs and delights of sex through exploring alternative ways of sharing and co-creating stories, from the lens of transaction analysis.
Reya Ahmed, Kolkata
Reya is a 24-year-old visual artist exploring feminism, queer identity and her experiences of growing up in a Bengali-Muslim household through an interdisciplinary crossroad of illustration, animation, architectural and editorial design. At present, she is core organizer and curator at The Queer Muslim Project, one of the largest global online networks of LGBTIQ+ Muslims.
The Queer Muslim Monthly is a resistance against the invisibility of intersectional identities and attempts to dismantle the idea of a newspaper as a source of information which often tends to leave out issues, concerning the most marginalized. It will collate art projects, art installations, video installations, comics, illustrations, interviews of and by Queer Muslim artists in the form of an online, graphic newspaper.