Any time festival season comes around whether it's Diwali in India or Thanksgiving in the states, something you'll find common is the dads of the family planted on sofas watching the TV, chatting or just napping while the moms run around preparing a feast for the entire family. Even in the every day life, time works differently for men and women. And any one who grew up in a South Asian household knows that rest and leisure is naturally associated to men whereas women are shamed for taking a break.
To challenge this norm, Jayati Bose has created women draped in sarees enjoying their downtime in her on-going art-essay, 'Women in Leisure'. Jayati is an explorer who dabbles in multiple art forms and water colours is her latest medium. She has worked as a fashion writer, a celebrity stylist, an entrepreneur in the space of sustainability and is an avid collector of textiles and heirlooms. In her latest series, she uses the imagery of Indian women draped in white sarees meant to represent the homemakers whose labours are overlooked.
Patriarchal systems in an Indian home alienate and overwork women as most of the household chores are expected to be done by them alone. They're even discouraged to go out alone until it's for errands for the house. In most middle and upper-middle class families, women only get to have some TLC when they're with their friends. Countless times I've heard women in beauty parlours say that this is their only time-off from the work at home; this or some shopping. And even then many of them have to lie to get out of the house.
The norm that men can have afternoon naps and all-day lazying out on the couch while their wives, daughters and sometimes even mothers tend to the housework is part of our culture and it's something we take pride in. Even when it's chill-time for the entire family in the evening, it's the women who have to make the chai and snacks.
The women in Jayati's series break away from that culture and reclaim leisure for themselves. They're seen bicycling, playing cards or football, painting and drinking tea with their friends; without the anticipation of doing chores looming over their heads. The series is just women having fun, as they should, as men do in most cases, yet it looks fanstasy-like, almost unreal; unveiling our own inherent notions of a woman's duties in society. In their representation of women in leisure, the images depict what women's lives would look like if they weren't dictated by an oppressive system.
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