Gender has become a pivotal point of discourse in the online sphere, with fervent debates separating those advocating for its fluidity and those adhering to the traditional binary notion. In the heart of this ongoing conversation lies Gender Bender, an annual festival in Bangalore, India, co-hosted by Sandbox Collective and Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan. Serving as a unique platform, Gender Bender has evolved over eight years into a vital space for nuanced dialogues, contributing to the progressive understanding of gender and its multifaceted implications, while emphasizing the necessity of intersectionality among both artists and audiences. The festival is renowned for showcasing a diverse array of works exploring gender through various artistic mediums, including performances, panel discussions, exhibitions, and workshops.
The festival invites applications from individuals and collectives working in the arts to create original works examining the concept of gender critically from their unique perspectives. These artistic contributions can encompass a broad spectrum of forms, ranging from dance and drawing to photography and pottery, accommodating a diverse range of creative expression. A distinguished panel of experts from diverse fields selects the projects to be supported, granting recipients the resources necessary for their artistic endeavors. The culmination of their efforts will be showcased during the Gender Bender Festival in Bangalore from December 8 to 10, 2023.
The 2023 Gender Bender Grantees embody the festival's spirit of creative exploration and advocacy. Sidhanth Ashok, also known as Inner Rhymes, is an influential non-binary rapper and co-founder of Bangalore's celebrated Hip-Hop movement, Wanandaf. Rajiv Bera, a writer, cook, and social justice lawyer, intertwines images, words, and food to nurture and affirm marginalized identities. Akramul Hijra, an accomplished self-taught artist, researcher, and curator, is dedicated to exploring various art forms to advocate for the rights of the queer community in Bangladesh. Soumya Mishra, a young neuroqueer development professional, leverages digital mediums to amplify the voices of marginalized communities, particularly focusing on the stories of queer-disabled individuals through their podcast, 'Atypical Dikkatein'.
Through their diverse and profound artistic contributions, these grantees exemplify the festival's commitment to fostering inclusive and thought-provoking conversations surrounding gender. As Gender Bender continues to champion the intersection of art and advocacy, it remains at the forefront of promoting social change and inclusivity in the realm of gender identity and expression.
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