Drowning Princess in Art/Virtual Gallery
Drowning Princess in Art Gallery Project is a video installation divided in seven video-sequences projected in seven different dark rooms and in between two rooms, newspaper and magazine articles about the disappearing daughters system are hanging in frame on the white walls of the gallery corridors as art painting. The set-up ends with the exhibition of a publicity campaign strategy to make the killing more efficient and financially profit-full. The device aim is double: aesthetical (to produce feelings) and philosophical (to make think). This project can be held in an Art Gallery or, as well, in a virtual form on Internet.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN KOLKATA
Once Kolkata had the fame to be a place for arts and open-mind thinking. But recently it appears that in West Bengal main City, killing of girls foetus is taking place massively: "one out of every six pregnancies end in sex selective malpractice — the official term for female foeticide. Evidence emerged when the Department of Health and the State Women’s Commission conducted a survey on pregnant women. Tallying the F-forms (issued by the government to gather details of pregnant women coming for tests) with the present status of would-be mothers, they were shocked to find that in nearly 16 percent cases, the target child was missing — circumstantial evidence that female foetuses are being aborted." In the eighties, the sex ratio was around 962 girls for 1000 boys. Twenty years later it felt to 927 for 1000. It is in part due to the uncontrolled development of private nursing homes where a middle class couple can pay to know the sex of the foetus and, in case it is a female one, to pay again to perform abortion. "Contrary to popular perception, it’s not poverty and lack of education which lead to this kind of selective abortion. A third of the families engaged in this malpractice are affluent, about 22 percent belong to the middle class. The survey has identified and indicted many clinics in Kolkata which offered incomplete and anomalous F-forms with false addresses of patients and most strikingly, omitted the reason for conducting the ultrasound." (Quotations are taken from "Progressive Kolkata has a dark secret. Female foeticide is on the rise as rogue clinics thrive" by Partha Dasgupta in Tehelka magazine Vol 7, Issue 32, Dated August 14, 2010).
The purpose of Drowning Princess in Art Gallery project is to provoke both feelings and thinkings but without directing them in a specific way. The exhibition device works with three kinds of materials: video-projection, press extracts and a publicity campaign design. It can be installed in an art gallery as well as in a "virtual" form on Internet.
Most of the nine video-sequences to be projected are taken from the film Drowning Princess, directed by Jean-Frédéric Chevallier and Maïa Nicolas. These images were shot with Bombay slum children, Kolkata Muslim women workers, dancers from Ahmedabad, Paris and Tokyo. On sequence is taken also from Un film de vacances, directed by Chevallier and produced by Sukla Bar: girls from two villages from West Bengal, one Christian and one Hindu are conversing. In the exhibition, the first sequence looks as a faery tells (about princesses that has to be killed and converted in fish to sell to pay the due dowry...) and the last one is completely absurd and in a certain horrible: during nine minutes, Jean-Frédéric Chevallier explains in details four possible ways to drown a princess and the use it can be done of the body: doll, ashtray, pillow, etc.
Between each dark room there is a white corridor to cross. On its walls, frame with press articles inside are hanging: they give basic information about the social phenomena. As it happens with the video sequences, step by step, the texts to read become also stranger. It is now no more question of describing a society fact but to encourage its development. Concretely, some of the press articles are remake not original ones. The selection of press extract as well as the production of false articles is coordinated by Sukla Bar Chevallier and Jean-Frédéric Chevallier.
This process of going deeper in the absurdity of the fact of killing of girls foetus has its climax in the final part of the exhibition, where in a big room, a possible publicity campaign design (motto, slogans, posters, flyers and tracts) is proposed. The audience discovers slogans as, for example: "Don't loose money: before killing your daughter, sell her hair" or "Help to settle a good sex ratio: don't kill only the foetus, kill also the mother". This last part is organized by Samia Singh, an Indian visual artist working for Tehelka magazine.
text by Jean-Frédéric Chevallier
We could start like this.
It’s the story of a princess who wants a castle and the prince who goes with it.
Or the story of a princess who wants a prince and the castle that goes with it.
Or the story of a prince who wants a princess and a castle too.
In a word, it’s the story of a princess, a prince and a castle.
It started a long time ago. Long before the world existed. There were no motorcycles, no mobile phones and no kalashnikov. Only princesses, castles on the water, and princes who go with them.
There were three princesses. Princess Neha, Princess Charmi and Princess Maïa.
Only three because they had killed all of the other ones. So they would not have to pay the dowry to the man who wanted to marry them.
All was happening in a wonderful place: something like the kingdom of God but looking as a desertic landscape.
SEQUENCE # 01
[In English - French subtitles - HD]
At first, people survived eating the fish.
After that, even the fish started to lack.
People then decided to drown the princesses and turn them into fish and thus feed the population.
It was not easy at all either.
Sometimes it was even easier to drown them massively.
They were specialist to make more concrete and above all more simple the logistic of all this stuff.
In a way, we can say it was very popular.
SEQUENCE # 02
[English subtitles - HD]
[Interview of Zubaida Nizam, a women working at Ankur Kala, a voluntary organisation in Calcutta, West Bengal, India in January 2008. Most of the women who come at Ankur Kala are victims of oppression and exploitation, forced to shoulder a harsh burden of both domestic and economic needs of their family. In Ankur Kala they produce and sell handicraft.]
SEQUENCE # 03
[English subtitles - HD]
SEQUENCE # 04
[Silent - HD]
[With the dancers Charmi Modi and Maïa Nicolas, the actress Neha Ramanuj in Ahmedabad, in December 2007.]
SEQUENCE # 05
[In Santali - HD]
[With Santal women dancers from Borotalpada Tribal village in West Bengal: Falguni and Fulmoni Hansda, Rani Soren]
SEQUENCE # 06
[English subtitles - 25 minutes - HD]
[With the Japanese dancer Ikue Nakagawa, in Paris, France, in January 2008.]
SEQUENCE # 07
[English subtitles - HD]
[With children from a slum in Bombay (Mumbay), India, in December 2007. The second part is shot in the subterranean part of a Castle in Ahmedabad with Jean-Frédéric Chevallier, Maïa Nicolas, Neha Ramanuj and Smiral Shah.]
SEQUENCE # 08
[In Bengali - HD]
[With girls from the Christian village of Morapaï and from the Hindu Low caste village of Hatnagar in West Bengal.]
SEQUENCE # 09
[In French - English subtitles]
Sukla Bar Chevallier is social work program coordinator. She is co-founder of Trimukhi Platform.Jean-Frédéric Chevallier is stage director, film-maker and philosopher. He is co-founder of Trimukhi Platform. He is currently profesor on the On-line Master Degree Program in Critical Studies head by 17, Instituto de Estudios Criticos.Samia Singh is a visual artist and a graphic designer based in New Delhi. She is currently working with India's leading news magazine - Tehelka as an in-house illustrator and designer.
Tags: jean-frédéric chevallier, samia singh, drowning princess, maïa nicolas, drowning princess in art gallery
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