DakshinaChitra's Utsavam celebrates the womxn, with its theme 'Future is Feminine'

DakshinaChitra’s flagship annual event is back. This time, with womxn at the heart of discussion.
Kathakali performance from previous year
Kathakali performance from previous year

A symposium of performances, lectures, demonstrations, talks, debates, and more, Utsavam celebrates the womxn (an alternative spelling to avoid the suggestion of sexism). Taking last year’s theme of ‘crafting a female centric future’ a tad ahead, this year’s theme 'Future is Feminine' is centred around the womxn and the feminine identity — essentially the feminine qualities that people are now looking to adopt — that women are naturally empathetic, multi-taskers, inclusive and diverse, and that these qualities will define the future.

Shreya Nagarajan Singh, who heads Arts Development Consultancy, and who has worked closely with DakshinaChitra to put this event together, tells us, “We are starting the festival with female voices from the Odhuvar community, followed by a talk on 'Inspiration vs. Infringement — What are my limits’ by Saishruthi Krishnaswamy. She is going to be talking about copyrights and how to protect yours, in a very simple and easy way that everybody can understand.”

The headlining act for this year’s festival, she tells us, is that we have an all-female kathakali group from Kerala. As is known, kathakali is mainly performed by men, even the female roles. But now, there are a lot of women who have started to train in this art form. Apart from performing at the event, they will also be talking about the history, evolution, and representation of gender in kathakali.

Then there is a session called 'Power dressing for Women'. This interactive session with designer Purushu Arey discusses the whole idea of women having to conform in order to be an equal. “So we’re talking about what is power dressing for women and how do you go about finding out what your power is? It could be a sari or a suit. But you do want to find out what it is because when you finally get a seat at the table, you have to dress in a way that empowers you,” Shreya says.

From power dressing to tattooing, this festival has got it all. Tattooing as an art form in India has been there for centuries, but is nevertheless a dying art with very few traditional tattoo artists left. To encourage this art form, a tribal tattoo artist Mangla Bai Maravi from Madhya Pradesh will shed light on the history of the art of tattooing. And if you are interested, you are free to get a tattoo done by her at the event. 
The festival will also premiere a new contemporary work called 'Found in Translation' — a video essay by Shabari Rao and Kumudha Chandrasekharan, that talks about the disparity between practice and theory in dance.

One of the other highlights of the festival is 11-year-old Prasiddhi Singh, an environmentalist, also an ambassador to the Tamil Nadu government. “She is extremely inspiring, despite her age. We’ve given her 15 minutes to talk about art and nature,” Shreya tells us.

Leading up to the event is Girlboss get-together, in collaboration with Goethe Institut, where all women and women identifying are welcome (through registration) to have a speed networking session. Shreya shares, “This networking version of speed dating is designed specifically for women to build contacts with other women.”

February 25-26, 
10 am onwards
Museum, ECR.



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