Pink art to counter violence against women

Anne Schemeckis (second from left), founder of the EachOneTeachOne Programme, with her team and Lavkamad Chandra, Prinicpal, Auroville Institute of Applied Technology. Photo: T. Singaravelou  

In one corner of the campus in the Auroville Institute of Applied Technology, there are 365 bamboo sticks, all painted pink and placed in concrete blocks. Over the next few days and months, these sticks with handwritten messages in mirror foil paper will take the form of installation art and travel to different places, including villages around Auroville, Puducherry and even Germany.

The message it will carry is one of universal relevance: How to deal with violence against women and children.

Taking inspiration from the Gulabi Gang (the women’s movement of Uttar Pradesh), a five-member team of Germans, led by Anne Schemeckis, founder of the EachOneTeachOne peace programme hope to open a dialogue on the topic of violence through art.

For the day-long workshop on Saturday, the team roped in 123 students of the Auroville Institute of Applied Technology and 80 women from villages surrounding the Auroville.

After viewing a documentary film on Gulabi Gang, the participants were split into groups for discussions. Their suggestions on how to tackle violence were written on the mirror foil paper which was then stuck on to the bamboo sticks. The project is a collaborative effort with the bamboo sticks being sourced from the Auroville Bamboo Centre.

Art is a ‘good transmitter’ and does not require the knowledge of a particular language in its approach to difficult topics, feels Ms. Anne, who is a coordinator with a UNESCO Associated School in Germany.

She has been visiting the Auroville Institute of Applied Technology for the last seven years as it is a partner institute with her school. Her programme EachOneTeachOne has in the past led to several collaborations, with exchange of artists from the Auroville region and Germany.

The current project is aimed at furthering this initiative while addressing violence against women and children. “Everybody can learn from each other and everybody can teach other. You cannot clap with one hand after all,” says Ms. Anne.

“Violence against women and children is a problematic issue everywhere, and not just in India. It is also considered a taboo topic,” she adds.

Bogna Jatoslawski, artist from the group, says that the Gulabi Gang offers some important lessons which show a strong image of women. Explaining the art installation, Ms. Bogna says, “Our installation has 365 sticks because violence is an everyday issue. While a stick can stand for violence, it can also stand for self-defence, and thus empowerment.”

Ms. Bogna is also exploring the idea of silence to communicate a message in a problematic area such as violence, and agrees with Ms. Anne on art being an effective medium for this.

The team feels that work must begin at the grass-root level, the reason they have begun the project with the students and women around the Auroville.

Lavkamad Chandra, Prinicpal and Karin Latzke, Executive of the Auroville Institute of Applied Technology agree. The solutions to this problem can start from these discussions here, says Ms. Karin.

“Our education includes developing the personality of our students as most of them come from poor economic backgrounds and face social problems. This project will create awareness among our boys and girls,” says Mr. Lavkamad.

The art installation will be shown on January 6 during the International Yoga Festival in Puducherry.

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Printable version | Jun 18, 2021 7:42:15 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/pink-art-to-counter-violence-against-women/article6753372.ece

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