Source: The New Indian Express (“Voicing gender equality,” by Express News Service, March 19, 2018)

The ‘Amplified Voice Programme’ workshop by American Arts Incubator displayed prototypes on gender issues

A participant of the ‘Amplified Voice Programme’ explains the workings of an installation to American Consul General Robert G Burgess

KOCHI: The three-week sound workshop Amplified Voice Programme held at Pepper House witnessed a wide range of prototypes that boldly spoke on gender bias issues and became a visual treat to the spectators.The focus of the sound workshop, which commenced on February 22, was ‘Gender Equality.’ The educational series of workshops was organised by American Arts Incubator, an initiative of the US Department of State and ZERO1. It was held in partnership with Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF) and Sacred Heart College, Thevara.

Four teams, comprising 16 members, came up with their interesting prototypes which gave prime importance to audio to tackle gender-related issues.US-based sound artist Laura Wright, who led the workshops, said that she decided to take Gender Equality as the theme after participating in the Women’s Day march at Seattle.

‘Axia’, an interesting prototype developed by one of the teams, emphasised the art of listening and conversation through a revolving globe placed in a flat triangle, with three microphones at its corners.
The team members said it can be set up at public places, offering opportunities to males, females and gender minorities alike to speak out their woes which usually go unheard as they lack enough listeners for their queries.

‘Bindu’, another prototype, underscored on breaking the stereotypes by recording the daily lives of three women who chose to smash the barriers by venturing into those uncharted fields confined to men. Selin, one of them, works at a crematorium in Kochi while Rekha is a fisher-woman and Jyothsana Padmanabhan is undergoing training to become a Hindu priestess. The team also intends to take it to the schools to tell children how to break the stereotypes.

Yet another team travelled with their ‘secret bag’ with microphones attached, which will record the issues of transgenders. This will convey those issues which they shy away from communicating to the world and makes the society aware of it. On the valedictory function of the workshop held on Friday, American Consul General Robert G Burgess said “In arts, we raise fundamental questions and challenge the way we think and they enable us to look at issues from a different perspective.” Manju Sara Rajan, CEO, KBF also attended.

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