Amid the lush, rain-washed greenery of Cubbon Park, two incongruous phone booths stand out at the historic bandstand. Picking up the receiver, a woman’s voice narrates her story: She was someone who was scared of talking to people, eating at hotels, or leaving the house alone. But since she began working as a facilitator for an NGO, she has learned to ride a bike and travel alone, often eats out and confidently addresses groups of villagers about financial independence.
These small victories and moments of sheer courage, as opposed to stories of incredible achievement picked up by mainstream media, constitute #ProjectOnHerOwn — a part of the Gender Bender festival to be held between August 21 to 24. The platform uses Interactive Voice Response (IVR) telephone lines on which callers can listen to stories in five different languages (English, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Hindi).
Currently, these stories are fictional. However, at the end of the call, the listener has the option to record their own stories of moments of pride, no matter how small.
“There is no other space for these kinds of stories to emerge or be shared. We are hoping that this becomes a space where people can listen and share and also inspire others,” said Anjana Balakrishnan, who handles story scripts and social media for the project.
The team of four who have designed this public art installation come from diverse backgrounds: Ms. Balakrishnan is a short-story writer; Sunayana Premchander is a theatre practitioner; Thejesh G.N., a independent technologist; and Yashodara Udupa, a film-maker. The belief of the project is that everyone has a story to tell and that all stories matter. Since its installation on August 1, the platform has received over 540 calls. “We hope to bring out the stories we get from callers in a book some day,” Ms. Balakrishnan said.
The final showcase of #ProjectOnHerOwn will be at the Gender Bender festival which will be held at Bangalore International Centre. The festival will include all videos, focus group discussions and story responses they have received from callers. Gender Bender is an art festival that showcases and celebrates new works of art around gender.
Those interested in participating in the project outside Cubbon Park can call 080-66084304 to access the stories or record their own.