Bombay Showcase

Art for the everyday feminist

Purpose-driven:Girls Only holds the promise of subverting notions of prejudice that the viewer might possess.  

Amid the violence that women are exposed to in their daily lives comes a decidedly strong protest in the form of a women-centric arts collective called Girls Only. Curated by Antonia Marsh, a London-based radical artist and curator, the project has travelled to New York, London, Copenhagen, and now, Mumbai, since its inception in 2014. Girls Only holds the promise of subverting any notions of prejudice and patriarchy that the viewer might possess.

Marsh decided early on that she would not be a slave to bureaucracy and formal structures. After graduating with a master’s degree in curation, in 2014 Marsh initiated a project through which the art world’s playing field, could be leveled.

Marsh’s project Girls Only is all about female artistes receiving as much recognition as their male counterparts. From 12 artistes in New York to a 15-member women-only art collective in Mumbai, Marsh’s dream has finally come to fruition.

Amidst Mumbai’s frenetic pace, Marsh’s brainchild has found a home in Marlies Bloemendaal and Natascha Chadha’s Ministry of New (MON), a creative space located on a quiet floor at 192, Kitab Mahal, Fort. MON is an art gallery and co-working space all in one. The wooden archways, French windows, and high ceilings lend it an old-world charm, with each room assigned a unique name, hold something for every kind of art lover.

At Marsh’s one-evening pop-up show, The Chapel Room at MON will showcase a collection of 30 photographs taken by five teenage girls from Dharavi. Girls Only has collaborated with Dharavi Art Room, an NGO, which empowers women and children through art by offering them a studio-space in Dharavi. Marsh’s team gifted these five teenagers a digital camera each, allowing them to capture moments in the lives of the women in the slum. These powerful images, seen through children’s eyes, hold their own gravity, drawing a viewer into their stories.

Among the 15 female artistes coming together at MON, is Poulomi Basu, with her new collection titled, ‘To conquer her land’. Comprising eight photographs, the series takes us into the daily lives of the women battalion of the Indian Army, captured by Basu on the Indo-Pak border. Also noteworthy among the eclectic line-up at the event are Vidisha Fadescha’s performance as her alter ego, and Shreya Dev Dube’s fashion film ‘NorBlackNorWhite’. Dressed as a zebra, Fadescha will be critiquing social issues such as the inhumane Naxalite Test conducted upon Adivasi women.

The exhibition will comprise a multitude of art forms ranging from installations to sculpture, and Marsh promises it to be a wholesome experience, as diverse ideas converge in a single space.

The show’s raison d'être is to challenge the status quo by confronting the audience with radical images, questions, and ideas and through the themes of sexuality, femininity, violence and accepted notions of beauty.

Marsh speaks of coming to Mumbai, an alien-land to her, as adding to her experience as a curator; “When you come to a new city, you have to start anew as you have no infrastructure, and this process lends a freshness to your work,” she says.

From Mumbai, the project will travel to London’s Cob Gallery for three weeks, which Marsh has a former association with.

Girls Only will be on show from 6 pm to 11pm today at Ministry of New, Fort. Interested attendees are requested to RSVP on the related Facebook event page.

The writer is an intern



A collection of 30 photographs taken by five teenage girls from Dharavi will be showcased




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Printable version | Sep 20, 2021 7:32:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/entertainment/art-for-the-everyday-feminist/article8478095.ece

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