Padatha Painkili (A bird that won't sing) , 77mins, video, 16:9 aspect ratio, 2017

Padatha Painkili (A bird that won't sing), 77mins, video, 16:9 aspect ratio, 2017

As a third-world post-colonial woman, I am interested in disrupting the art of looking by using the role of performance art to break down barriers. I stayed in the box for over five hours, eating through it. The visuality of the image challenges the gaze and unmasks the power relations that keep women subjected to intense policing under patriarchy.

The box is a metaphor for the womb and I remained inside the box in the fetal position for five hours. By biting/sucking/chewing/eating/spitting the box, without the use of my hands, the film is meant to reveal multiple hegemonies that intersect discourses of gender, race and class especially from a third-world perspective.

By rejecting the traditional representation of the female body, as a postcolonial Indian female, I have tried to establish and subvert the link between visual pleasure and the objectification of women. By denying the viewer of immediate visual gratification, the body becomes a site of resistance and not as an idealized object of male desire. This idea draws on the transformation in social and subjective aspect by exploring the internal dynamism of subjects and their relation to society.

As an Indian woman and a retired fashion model, my body was never my own. The body that was represented in the fashion magazine is an enhanced idealized body, fit for societal consumption.

I am interested in addressing the complexities of representing the self in a patriarchal world and the significance of lived experiences to decipher naked female performances by third world women. As an Indian woman, the national rhetoric of the ideal woman denies me of subjectivity. I am fitted into boxes prescribed by society, whether in bed, in the kitchen or in public. By eating/chewing out of the box, I am addressing the need to challenge society that treats women as objects.

By challenging the national rhetoric, I hope to unpack misogynist notions of how the body of a woman is over idealized, systematically objected and is subjected to intense policing.

Fusing performance art and film, I am seeking a way to challenge the traditional representations of women in film and art.

The film Padatha Painkili (A bird that won't sing) has no sound. Using the notion of silence, the film also questions silent spectatorship that allows for violence to perpetuate.