RING THE BELL
I was born in India. I was never educated about patriarchy until I started experiencing it in my daily life. Women in North India are expected to be only mothers and nothing else, and that’s where I stayed for years of dreaming to be an artist. Those dreams stayed unfulfilled for twenty years.
Once I battled it out and started experimenting with my art, I became aware of power politics, especially in our field. The subjugation, and the humiliation, and the fact that nobody was listening.
The “Me Too” campaign sent a fresh wave of awareness and power to all of us, because now we were talking, and we had listeners.
While at Morni Hills Performance Art Biennale, I met an amazing individual who was talking of how, because of lack of justice, women in a particular country took to going to events and publicly reading out names of perpetrators and others whom nobody was ready to hold accountable. The list got longer and longer with every event. I couldn’t get it out of my mind.
The moment I got up the next morning, while everyone was having tea, I took a roll of toilet paper and, wearing just the clothes I slept in, went to the bell hanging outside the kitchen. With every stroke of the bell, I named one perpetrator. I also named a few others who knowingly had not taken a perpetrator to task, either by remaining silent, or by being friends with such a person. All those I named were known personally to me. And to them, my dignity did not matter. Why do I have to “Ring The Bell” to be heard? Each time after naming them, I tore off part of the toilet paper and threw it on the ground. I concluded the performance by picking up all the pieces and shoving them into my backside in my underwear. I picked up a shovel kept nearby and quietly went on to dig a hole in the ground.
I stand with women. I stand with the children of the future. I stand in solidarity. I stand with a future devoid of violence and power politics.