With an influx of statistics showing how women in Bangalore felt unsafe in public spaces and reports of harassment on the rise, an artist Indu Antony and her friend Cecilia started the Cecelia’ed project. They wanted to alter the Map of Bangalore wherein they reclaim spaces where women feel unsafe. The project started in January 2019 with the support of the Public Art Grant given by Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art.
What do they mean by reclaiming spaces? Many a times in the by lanes of neighbourhoods, there are barber shops, small bars and liquor stores where every evening, a large crowd of men are seen hovering around. Women feel unsafe as they pass through those lanes while walking to and fro from their work, and errands with the fear of being cat called, harassed or even raped. How does Cecilia’ed tackle this? Their motive is to inculcate feminist geography, they strive to make by change by doing multiple social performances which will create a buzz around the society and women will feel safer and more empowered in their day to day lives. With photography as their core element, where the now 77-year-old modelled in 70 different costumes, styling herself, unleashing her heart’s desire in dresses, makeup, heavy accessories, posing with attitude as the artist questions societal confinement, identity, gender, public access etc
Other mediums they take onto are hosting road reopenings of roads, at those so-called ‘unsafe’ roads a spectacle to create attention over the pressing problems, usually the local ward leaders are accompanied with our star Cecelia, and a band with flowers and flyers. The curious onlookers often question the happenings in their surroundings. They also host open bar meets, where a bunch of women would go into these small shady bars, to try to break the stigma around them, often they would hear, “Women are not allowed” at the doorstep, a line which doesn’t exist in the rulebook. This just makes me wonder how handicapped are the societal rights of women and that we have a long way ahead to create a dent in the everlasting patriarchy.
Indu Antony also hosts safety workshops in the small anganwadi’s near HBR layout and Kalyan Nagar, where she tries to listen to problems of the locals and address them with solutions. These workshops are usually held on the second Saturday of the month, where you will find the passionate speaker surrounded by women, laughing, chatting and discussing their grievances. Another form of aid they worked on was the hotline number service. Where if one shares their grievances, they will be connected to the help required, whether its NGOs, police reinforcement and more. Although we are not sure whether these services are still in continuation.
To reach the masses, the artist took on social media campaigns, volunteer help and works of starting their own news channel that would be live on YouTube and their re-opening festivities. The information for this blog has been referred from www.ceciliaed.com to spread information on this project and inspire our community to stand up against women’s safety policies. Reach the artist on @indu.antony and follow the project @ceciliaed_always.