Breaking away from taboos on menstruation

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12th July 2017
Breaking away from taboos on menstruation

Boondh, an organisation founded by Bharti kannan and Sonal Jain, is promoting the awareness of using menstrual cups as a more sustainable alternative to sanitary napkins that take over 800 years to disintegrate. To make this message easier to understand and to break myths about menstrual blood being impure, they brought together artists who have been doing menstrual art. The travelling exhibition, ‘The Crimson Wave,’ was launched in Chennai on Menstrual Hygiene Day (May 28) this year, and has travelled to Bangalore, before heading to Goa. It will continue its journey to Pune, Mumbai and Delhi. The exhibition in Goa is headed by Aditi Dharmadikari.

The exhibition includes art works on various mediums like canvas, paper, cloth / any other materials, digital illustration, photography / videography and small installations, with a few done using actual menstrual blood. The central idea of the project is to curate artworks surrounding the period, the myths around it and representation of female biology from a diverse range of artists across the world.

“I was excited to learn about the project and since I am currently settled in Goa, I thought of brining the exhibition to Goa. The response to the exhibition has been great here, with the first day itself creating a lot of buzz about the menstruation cup, which is also available at the venue. These menstruation cups, made by Boondh, are made of medical-grade silicon and do not lead to any rashes, unlike pads and tampons. A lot of problems like Toxic Syndrome and environmental waste get eliminated with the use of these cups,” says Aditi.

Sonal Jain, the Director of Boondh, kickstarted the project in Chennai and she was excited to see the response for the exhibition. “It was very interesting to see women attend the exhibition, not just girls but women in their 50s and 60s, who were in their menopause, found the exhibition fantastic. The original plan was to exhibit the paintings in four cities of India. Chennai, where I am based, Bangalore where Bharati is based, and Bombay and Delhi, where we both studied. However, the exhibition piqued the interest of many like – minded women who are volunteering with the project. Aditi is the one who suggested talking the exhibition to Goa and Pune and we also got response from cities like Jaipur, Indore and Hyderabad,” Says Sonal.

Though there were very few artists from India whose works were known, the team of Boondh got in touch with various artists in India and abroad over social media. “Sanjana from our team reached out to people over Twitter and Instagram who were working on breaking myths around menstrual blood being impure or dirty. There is even a male artist, Shreyas Prakash from Mumbai, who has been a part of the project. Their perspective on the issue depends on where the person is coming from and their socio-cultural context. The exhibition is explorative and intense and includes a wide spectrum of works,” explains Sonal.

The exhibition has works on the lines of period humour, period politics, PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), puberty, menopause, body positivity and depression. Bangalore – based Sridevi Sadasivan’s work, ‘The Last Red,’ captures the peaceful acceptance of menopause, and Chilean artist Consuelo Da Costa’s work, ‘Sinister Illumination,’ shows the form of a human face painted using sharp strokes of blood. Layla Freechild, who is based in Jaipur, has been doing menstrual art for almost 18 months, Bansri Thankkar from Mumbai completed a project on ‘Silence of the Cramps’ around menstruation using stories and anecdotes with an aim to take shame out of periods, Jen Lewis from Michigan has taken macroscopic images of blood.

The Crimson Wave’ is on display at Carpe Diem, Majorda till July 16, 2017 from 10am to 7pm.