The Red Sea: “The Disappeared” by the Art for Change Foundation and the Let Her Live Campaign

BIO

Art for Change Foundation is a small arts organization started and run by local artists in New Delhi, India, with the vision to see art shape society with beauty and truth.  In 2006 the Art for Change Foundation began responding to the issue of violence against women in India, in particular the problem of female foeticide.  Since 2011 the Art for Change Foundation has partnered with Let Her Live, a movement working to change mindsets in India which discriminate against women & girl children and result in sex-selective abortions and other forms of gender-based violence.

 

Summary

Besides being responsible for most of the 163 million missing women in Asia, India and China are both geographic neighbors and political & economic rivals. What is good for India, however, is good for China and vice versa—internal stability, people-centered policies, and a culture of valuing women.

Although legislation has banned determining the sex of a foetus and sex-selective abortions in India, the law has had negligible effect on the alarming imbalance of male-to-female sex ratios in our country.  Indian government officials have admitted that without addressing the mindset—that set of values and beliefs that lie at the root of the practice—change will not be possible. 

We believe that art has the power to change society by addressing and shaping the ideas that underlie culture.  The paintings presented in this short video are a selection of works created in artist residencies and painting workshops run by us as an attempt to address the root causes behind female foeticide in India, in this case the question of what it means not just to be female, but to be male. 

The selection of works in the video were created during several one-month artists residencies and one-week painting workshops involving 33 artists over the last 6 years.  The artists ranged from a homeless man who paints, to young professional artists, to a 75 year-old self-taught painter, to an art college lecturer.

The artists met intentionally to understand the issues of female foeticide and broader violence against women in India, explore the roots of these problems, and in community use their skills to create artwork that could be used to both ‘show a mirror to society’ and speak truth to the issue.  Besides impacting regular viewers, the artists themselves were deeply moved through this process, as the mirror was shown not just to society but to their own hearts and minds.

Although we have run a number of physical exhibitions using the works resulting from these activities, Art for Change Foundation and ‘Let Her Live’ made this video to create a virtual gallery experience in order to get these paintings out to a wider audience.  The purpose for the video is both to give an overview of the problem as well as address a key underlying belief. 

If we win any grant money we plan to use it towards two purposes:  (1) Celebrating the ‘International Day of the Girl Child’ in New Delhi this Oct 11th, (info packs for churches, street theater performances, college-campus screenings of the new ‘It’s A Girl’ movie).  (2) Funding a CD of songs written during a song-writing workshop we organized earlier, for which we haven’t had the funds to record yet.




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