‘Hoon jano, hoon khabar ?’ was conceived in 2014 at a five-week residency at Sandarbh, Equilibrium – a cultural initiative located in Partapur, Rajasthan which aims at building interactive contexts for women in rural and peri-urban settlements in India. Using the existing self-help groups as the meeting ground, it provided a platform to enter into a dialogue with the women from the local communities.
While interacting with the women from Kharveda, Bori and Semalia in the Banswada district, I observed that most of them sit on the ground, sometimes on a mat but mostly without one. The elders and the men always sit up on chairs, cots. However, the woman even if she is elderly and ailing will sit down. This was also the case for young boys and girls – the boys sit up while the girls don’t. When asked mostly they mentioned custom and tradition.
Another interesting aspect was that they not only sit on the ground in the presence of male members and village elders but also when visitors like me are around, that is, whoever they perceive as more powerful or privileged.
In my conversations with them, they spoke candidly about what they think. Many felt the need to change. However, most of them wanted to continue with the existing practices as that keeps the environment at home and in the community peaceful. Some were not even interested in such trivial things.
The conversations led to a symbolic and momentary change when the women agreed to be photographed seated on a chair, cot or a raised platform. They insisted on being photographed indoors or in the backyard along with their sons. These photographs and the conversations were then put together into a photobook.
Hoon janon, hoon khabar was featured in People’s Archive of Rural India as “The temporary ‘chairwomen’ of Banswara”