Shraddha Sharma, Sudhamshu Mitra and Yash Jain come from interdisciplinary backgrounds - a teacher, social researcher, a project manager with a liberal arts background , and a coder for a better world. What brings them together is their interest in working towards an equitable world by reflecting on their own privilege and on the invisible ways in which caste operates, and a desire to lay bare their own backyard. Pursuing an M.Phil. in Women's Studies at JNU, Project Management in a gaming start-up and software development at Yousician, are each of their day jobs.
Do we become casteless on dating apps? Or do we reinvent heteronormative brahmanical ways while finding love, sex and everything else? //CasteNoBar is an interactive digital installation based on narratives of how cishet savarnas navigate dating apps.
Saad Khan is a PhD candidate in the Dept. of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies at University of Washington. With an extensive background as a qualitative researcher in the areas of gender, sexual and reproductive health and rights, masculinity, disability, and education.
'Little Boxes' is a self-taught artist and PhD candidate in the Dept. of Social and Political Science at the University of Glasgow, Scotland. They are researching the contestation between decoloniality and digital culture in the queer politics of Bangladesh and West Bengal.
Queer research through digital zine and podcast series in Bangladesh
The project aims to propogate knowledge and critical conversation on how to conduct queer research (research on queer issues and queer forms of research) in Bangladesh through the creative medium of a digital zine and podcast series with South Asian researchers working at the intersections of art, activism, and academia.
Saad Khan and Little Boxes
Twisha Mehta, Kabir Chaturvedi, Shagnik Chakraborty
Indore, Madhya Pradesh
Anurati Srivastava is a playful-learning experience designer and new media artist. Over the past five years, she has designed children's interactive media - including games, digital products, visual narratives and curricula - that promote social-emotional learning and global citizenship education with organizations such as UNESCO, Katha, and UNFPA. She has an interdisciplinary academic background in engineering, science, and liberal arts. She is an Arts for Good Fellow 2021 and a Young India Fellow 2017.
(Queen of my own Volition)
Malika-e-Marzi (Queen of my own Volition) - The princess can save herself, is a platformer interactive game that subverts the trope of platformer games of the man rescuing the princess or the damsel in distress. The game follows the lives of real-life powerful queens and princesses that have ruled over the Indian subcontinent and narrates their eclectic stories of valour and rebellion, and how they have saved themselves in the face of trials, deviating from the archetype and popular narrative of women under the Mughal empire.
Adil Kalim completed his B.F.A in Art Education and M.F.A. in Graphic Art (Printmaking) from the Jamia Millia Islamia University. His work showcases the issues that he has come across since his childhood. Societies fixation with the cookie cutter model and its distaste for non conformity has always been the major concern in his artworks. Our obsession with labelling and boxing anyone who is different is at the core of all his work.
This project aims to portray the unseen beauty of our lives. This is presented through vivid images, layered with text and illustrations on on book covers. Books - being a symbol of knowledge, awareness, tolerance, and understanding - will be used to present the idea that a person's life is like a book, that others are yet to read. The project aims to drive home the idea of how similar the lives of queer persons are to the people who reject their very place in society through the use of unacceptable language.
Dheeraj Kumar is a trained Fashion Designer turned Photo Artist. He has worked in various domestic export houses while simultaneously learning and practicing the craft of photography. He is inspired by personalities such as Frida Kahlo, Robert Mapplethorpe and Henry Moore and aspires to define with the lens, his personal approach towards life, beauty and art. He travels to the sleepy villages of southern India to capture the moods, culture, colours that drew him to this region in the first place. The human form with its many complexities and layers is another quest and a constant source of inspiration.
This project is envisioned as a Photobook. In his own words, "It took me years to understand myself, though it appears that society had already decided who I was, even as I was still discovering myself, simply because society doesn’t seem to care for my emotions.” He hopes this project will offer me him and others who feel ‘ different’ a new perspective to help celebrate and embrace our uniqueness rather than feel ashamed because there can never be one right way when it comes to Gender.
Johnson Rajkumar is an award-winning documentary filmmaker. His documentary, Fireflies, which explored gender dynamics during conflicts and armed violence in Manipur has been featured in several international and national film festivals. He is currently a film conservator and an archivist in the Manipur Film Archive. His interest is exploring collective memories through material and visual culture.
'Eigi Wari' (My Story)
This project is an online video archive of Nupi Manbi, indigenous transgender women of Manipur. The archive is a ruminative visual anthology exploring the Nupi Manbi experience of their identities through mnemonic testimony, observational moments, and fragmentary impressions. The testimonies in the project are designed to critique patriarchy by exploring the idea of ‘safe spaces’ in Manipur.
Prerit Jain is a toy and game designer based in Indore. His practice revolves around playfulness and the role of emerging technology as a medium for human connection with oneself and the other.
Prerit's project tries to provide a space with props centered around gender, for people to connect with their childhood; a space that encourages them to be playful and expressive.
Sharanya Ramprakash is a theatre maker working at the intersection of gender, tradition and language, with a focus on Kannada culture. She writes, acts, directs, and collaborates with a range of forms, communities and theatre makers across local, national and international locations. Her work is research-based, collaborative and exploratory. She is interested in the gaps between binaries such as Man-Woman, Urban-Rural, Traditional-Modern, Kannada-English and her work thrives in these in-between spaces.
#MalashreeChallenge is a social experiment on popular mainstream platform MX TakaTak, Josh and Moj. 20 feminists take up the #MalashreeChallenge to co-opt the filmography of Kannada Lady Superstar KanasinaRani Malashree into the trans-feminist narrative. Can Malashree’s gender-bending filmography catapult her into an icon for transfeminism in Kannada pop culture? Will #MalashreeChallenge go viral?
Shraddha Sharma, Sudhamshu Mitra, Yash Jain
002fa7 is a Bangalore-based experimental media practitioner and has worked with the media of found text, documentary sound, visuals, and the moving image in prior artistic work.
002fa7’s work is an audio-visual exploration of queer sex. Grounded in the practice of experimental media, this project is a study on fucking and the sexual body.
The three-member team represents a collective working between the lines of technology, gender and art over the last two years. Their work is built upon collaboration; where individual ideas and skill sets merge. Twisha works with gender issues through art, publication design and writing; Kabir works with emerging technologies with a focus on AR; while Shagnik is a visual designer and Illustrator who has worked in publication and journalism.
Genre is envisaged as an online space for gender discourse. It uses music and its ever-evolving set of genres as a metaphor to introduce ideas of the gender as genre. With music at the core of their project they would like to dwell on the premise of gender and sexuality as a spectrum rather than limited to a binary.
Vastavikta Bhagat is an architect, narrative artist, digital archivist and Assistant Professor at the School of Environment and Architecture, Mumbai. She works with drawing out narratives, data, language and archives. Her recent experimentation with code and new forms of archives led to questioning what it means to inhabit digital spaces through their experiential dimensions. The themes of some of her ongoing work also focuses on spatial and environmental politics surrounding post-intensive mining landscapes and climate change in Indian cities.
This project looks at unravelling the dominant socio-cultural narrative consolidated through time where caste and gender biases have put forth a singular identity /idea of an ideal household. Within this exclusionary framework, any form of gender non-conformity and queerness outside the configuration of the ideal family is termed as invalid, which in turn has implications on the visceral experience of inhabiting physical and digital spaces. She proposes that many households beyond the conventional frame are built on gender solidarities and friendships which create alternative imaginations of a home that are unique based on the spaces and networks we access. She looks at putting together an archive of these experiences and friendships through a series of portraits of homes, experiences of gendered and queer households through collected and found imagery, sound, noise and narrative drawings by mobilising fiction.
Faced with the challenges in the last year and a half, a shaky present and an uncertain future, the only thing we are certain of at this point is that we must continue the work however and whenever possible. These difficult times have only taught us how much more we must persevere to further the gender discourse in the hope of contributing to a better understanding of gender and art.
Gender Bender 2021 is envisioned as a digital manifestation of the physical festival – an interactive online space for audiences to engage with. Keeping this in mind, this year, we only invite applications for ideas that can be realised in the digital space.
The jury members spent several days going through all applications, before making a final decision on the list of 11 grantees for this year!
The grantee showcase 2021 is LIVE