Art

The Red Wall Project’s art exhibition lends a voice to the LGBTQI community

‘Testimonials’ and artwork that are part of The Red Wall Project   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Red raises alarm. It calls attention to the exigency of upturning status quo. Black is sombre, almost the colour of their “truth”. And they seek to raise a symbolic, impenetrable red wall of “protest”, through the “powerful” medium of art and the “universal language of colours.”

The Red Wall Project spearheaded by Pollachi-headquartered Sahodari Foundation, which works towards the welfare of the LGBTQI community, aims at spotlighting the “abuse, hardship and discrimination” faced by members of the community across the country and lend them a collective voice.

“It’s a community art project wherein we use art as a way to express not only the needs of and atrocities faced by transpersons but also to stand up and voice our opinions strongly to make it reach change-makers, decision-makers, the justice system and the public,” says Kalki Subramaniam, who founded Sahodari Foundation in 2008.

Hundreds of transpersons, both men and women, across the country were interviewed as part of the project, who then wrote about their experiences, particularly sexual and physical abuse they faced because of their gender identity. “We encouraged them to document it on an art paper for and also got their palm impressions in red imprinted on them. These testimonials are part of the exhibition, apart from paintings done by members of the community,” says Kalki, a painter and gender rights activist.

Kalki Subramaniam, founder of Sahodari Foundation

Kalki Subramaniam, founder of Sahodari Foundation   | Photo Credit: B JOTHI RAMALINGAM

An art exhibition curating these ‘testimonials’ and paintings will be on display at Alliance Francaise de Trivandrum starting today (Saturday). The exhibition is organised by Alliance Francaise de Trivandrum in association with the Embassy of France in India.

Kalki says the display also aims to highlight “the biases and double standards” in the legal system. “The exhibition will see a mark of both witnesses and victims. Each piece reveals the identity of its owner as we have obtained their consent. It’s not the time to hide... it’s the time to talk, to raise awareness,” she says.

Kalki describes the project as “a growing movement”, evinced by the collection augmenting with more and more members of the community joining the bandwagon.

“We started the project about a year-and-a-half back and in the initial phase, we gathered close to 100 testimonials. Today, we have about 500 in different languages as part of the collective oeuvre,” Kalki points out. About 10 artworks will be part of the display. Kalki is assisted in her curation by her “research team” of transgender artists Sowndharya Gopi, Kanchana Venkatesan and Smita Avimukta.

Artists working as part of The Red Wall Project

Artists working as part of The Red Wall Project   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Saturday’s session features a panel discussion on ‘Film and Art as Powerful tools of Change for LGBTQI Community’ with Kalki, Manvendra Singh Gohil, gay rights activist and the crown prince of one of India's oldest royal families, and Sreekutty Namitha, director of Oasis Cultural Society.

Another highlight will be a “solo poetic play” titled Black written, directed and presented by Kalki. “Black is a combination of two Tamil poems I wrote in 2015 – Kuri Aruthen and Vallurukalum Neeyum. It revolves around sexual exploitation of the poor and the marginalised,” she says. Kalki says the day’s event are structured to be an amalgam of literature and art. “Poetry as black and art as red. As an artist, I find them as very strong colours,” Kalki says.

The exhibition will be inaugurated at 5.30 pm at Alliance Francaise de Trivandrum on December 7. It will be on till December 13.

Timings: 10 am till 6 pm

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Printable version | May 11, 2021 11:02:44 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/art/the-red-wall-projects-art-exhibition-in-kerala-capital-lends-a-voice-to-members-of-lgbtqi-community/article30212418.ece

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