Gender conversations

Can gender dynamics emerge as a thought-provoking digital manifestation through an art festival? Shilpi Madan tells us how

Nothing succeeds like the multiplicity of voices in art. Creating and shaping further conversations, the inclusive art festival Gender Bender 2021, brought in its digital edition an interactive online space. The seventh edition of the discourse through art, put together by co-founders and artistic directors, Nimi Ravindran and Shiva Pathak, of Sandbox Collective, brought in enervating expressions in a sensorial exploration of different perspectives.

Gender Bender found a platform in Sophiensaele in Berlin in 2020 and is now set to showcase at an international platform yet again in 2022, discovering its own vocabulary through critical conversations in thought-provoking visual anthologies. How have the dynamics emerged as a thought-provoking digital manifestation, over the past seven years? Says Nimi Ravindran, “Last year we were caught unawares by the pandemic, which is why we only managed some documentation of the work created by the grantees. This year, with enough time to prepare, our application call clearly stated that the work created by the artists would have to be shown online in a digital space. This emerged collectively as the digital manifestation of the exhibition. For instance, Bengaluru-based theatre actor and director Sharanya Ramprakash’s #Malashreechallenge could never have been possible at a physical festival. It was an attempt to create an online challenge that would hopefully go viral.” The festival started off as a one-evening showcase in 2015 and has slowly, steadily emerged into a focal talking point for art and gender, growing organically into an open space for new works, conversations, fun and celebration.

With the fusing of boundaries and barriers through elective discourse, what is the biggest link between the two that has come to the fore? “We are not sure we are exploring a link between art and culture, but we are certainly exploring ways in which the ‘idea of gender, or the gender conversation can be furthered through art. Sometimes it’s a starting point for a conversation, sometimes it’s an ongoing debate, sometimes it’s a new engagement or interaction. We’re not looking at mapping impact, or finding …

Shilpi Madan for Sunday Herald

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