Raheema Begum is an artist, writer, poetess and performer. Her work on labels, an art and entrepreneurial project has looked at the notion of identity with a specific focus on religious identities in the Indian subcontinent.
As a feminist, she is deeply interested in deconstructing and dismantling patriarchal structures that inhibit the feminine consciousness and works with dance and dance therapy to break through and heal from sexual violence and subjugation.Her work employs photography and the camera for tactical and chronicling purposes while working with a conscious aesthetic. As an artist and cultural producer she studies and works with several forms, both in popular culture as well as documented and researched art history. Her practice is variegated and diverse and she works across the spectrum, always aspiring for greater fluency.
Date of Birth: 24th August 1982.
City of Birth: Bangalore
Currently based in Mumbai, India.
Contact: #91 8951675038, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Schooling at Presidency School, RT Nagar, Bangalore
Pre-university at St.Annes College, Bangalore, in Physics, Math Computers and Chemistry.
Foundation Course in Fine Art, Roerich Institute, Chitrakala Parishath, Bangalore.
Bachelors in Fine Art with a specialisation in Art History from the College of Fine Art, Chitrakala Parishath, Bangalore.
Certificate courses in Philosophy and the Philosophy of Science at National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore. Core Faculty included Sundar Sarukkai, Roddam Narsimha, Anindya Sinha, Prok.R L Kapoor…
Courses including a month intensive programme in Dance from the Attakalari Center for Movement Arts. I also learnt Kalaripayattu, a martial art there for four months. The intensive month long course training in Tai Chi, Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Contemporary Dance, Ballet, Kalaripayatt, Yoga and Contact improvisation. Core Faculty at Attakalari: Jayachandran Palazhy, Tripura Kashyap, Kenneth Flak and Abhilash for Contemporary Dance,Christoph and Christine Lechner for Contact Improvisation, Ranjan Mularatt for Kalari, Patricia Purification for Ballet, Nirupama and Rajendra for Kathak, Hans Van Baaren from Auroville for Tai Chi and Ganga Thampi from Kalakshetra, Chennai for Bharatanatyam.
Understanding Media and Communications. (Year 2000), Course in writing conducted by Bangalore based writer and Ad man Peter Colaco.
‘The Popular Muse: Politics of Dissent and Celebration in the Popular Music of the Sixties’ , Certificate Course at the English Department of St Josephs Arts and Science College. Core Faculty Cherian Alexander, Arul Mani and Etienne Rassendran(2002)
‘My Body, My Wisdom’, three day therapeutic and educational workshop along the lines of freeing and healing the body. Conducted by Tripura Kashyap and psychiatrist Santa Kumar. (2005)
‘Minorities, Questions and Contestation'(2006), ‘Body and the limits of Corporeal Figuration'(2005): Workshops at the Forum on Contemporary Theory, Vadodara.
Core Faculty for ‘Minorities…’ :Rajeev Bhargava, Zoya Hassan, Prof. Pantham and Prof PC Kar.Core Faculty for ‘Body and the Limits of Corporeal Figuration’: Vicky Kirby, Sanjay Srivastava and Uday Kumar.
Advanced Workshop on Dance Therapy by Tripura Kashyap at Rainbow Inc.,Hyderabad, in November 2006.
Worked on theatre and film productions in Bangalore including a French documentary film called ‘A Living Heritage of Krishnamurti’ about a schooling programme called River Valley Education Programme begun in rural Andhra by the Rishi Valley School Community. The Rishi Valley Schools impart learning that draws from the world view of philosopher J Krishnamurti. This programme, an ancillary initiative of the school focused on an integrated and growth centered Primary schooling for the children in five villages in Madanapalli District.
The film itself was about how the school is woven within the lives of five children who attend these schools. I was a second assistant to the French born American director Robert Harvey. The film was documentary but shot under a mise en scene format drawing from village life and the lives and characters within the stories of the children we worked with.
Spent a year learning Art History at the Masters programme of the Faculty of Fine Art at MS University in Baroda. This was when I started my current project ‘labels’.
Two Day residential Training and workshop for lawyers and activists on Muslim Personal Law conducted by a Muslim Women Lawyers collective called Parvaaz based in Gujarat.This was facilitated by Kaumi Mahaz, a Baroda based group working on rehabilitation for the riot victims of 2002.Ahmadabad, March 2007
Two Day workshop on writing for film called ‘Scripted’ ,conducted by playwright and screen writer Anuvab Pal at the Celebrate Bandra Festival’ s literary programme.November 2009.
‘Production of knowledge in the natural and social sciences’ : A course at the Center for Contemporary Studies, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.September 2010- January 2011.
Currently represented by Gallery Sumukha, Bangalore.
Scripted and directed plays in college at the degree level. ‘Untitled’, about the politics of art and art about politics, in 2002.Art and politics was a long term concern in college, and I kept alternating between activism and making and researching. ‘Why am I so Blasé'(2005), my graduating work in the Department Of Art History was a show that brought it together.
Choreographed for a dance drama, ‘Mooru Kaasina Sangeetha Nataka’, based on Bertolt Brecht’s ‘The Three Penny Opera’. The play, directed by Aravind won second place for best dance at a state level inter collegiate theatre festival. I also played Polly, the woman lead-role.(2005)
White Ribbon Campaign South Asia
WRC is a global Campaign for Peace.Around the time of the Gujarat Elections of 2007, I revived the White Ribbon campaign in order to respeak the secular voice.
Our discussion group on facebook tries to spark off new debates on nuclear energy centered around the Indo US Nuclear deal .
One State Solution Weeks
The One State Solution Weeks are events that bring together voices from South Asia that speak out in favour of the three States of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh coming together politically as a more coherent and unified democratic whole.
These events are now fully democratic and arbitrary, an d can be called for by anyone.The only thing that brings us together is the spirit and the tag that makes posts show up on search engines.
‘Reconnaissance’ , the first physical labels experience and my first gallery show in July 2008 was an interactive new-media installation in Gallery Sumukha, Bangalore.
‘Identify Yourself’, real time event at my studio in Baroda, and in Bangalore at CKP, online on the Sarai reader list and some groups on http://www.orkut.com.
This event is to bring about a consciousness of identity. Participants are asked the question ‘Who are you?’, and leave their answers online on the blog, http://www.whosebody.wordpress.com/.
This is an ongoing event, in order to initiate people into the work.
‘Choosing Life‘, the Eagle Story.4 minute dance performance with a video projection called Choosing Life. Part of Labels, Shown at the College of Fine Art on May 9th 2007, and at an event marking five years after the Gujarat genocide of 2002 called Sach Ki Yaadein, Yaadon Ka Sach’. Documented partially in video and stills. See
‘Jism‘, 16 minute ticketed performance featuring the stories and lives of five people, Shailly, Aarfa, Kiran, Shantanu and myself as part of the first phase of Labels at the Faculty of Fine Art, MSU, Baroda.
‘Why am I so Blasé?’ a multi-media performance, part of my final year presentation at the College Of Fine Art, Chitrakala Parishath, shown at World Information City, and event to raise awareness about the politics of information in our networked age. November 2005.
Also see the Flickr page.
And for a description of World Information City, see http://www.world-information.org/
‘God is not a Square, God is cross’, a performance at a workshop by Vivan Sundaram called ‘To draw a line’, a marathon dedicated to Bhupen Khakkar and Nasreen Mohammedi. August 14, 2007 at the Faculty of Fine Art, MS University,Baroda.
The Plantation isan experimental group of independent arts and music professionals trying to recreate and build a sychretic cultural practice in Vadodara, Gujarat.We have a public blog and a facebook group.
Shivajinagar Signs, research, documentation and art project, in collaboration with Namita Malhotra, made possible by the Sarai Independent Fellowship Grant 2003.
With Anup Patel, an associate of Indicorps, I carried out a documentation and research project in the Shimoga district of North Karnataka, about Hase Kale, or Chittara Art, a wall painting tradition of the Deevaru community. Traditionally a women’s practice, this study documented how it has transformed with modernity, and because of social intervention. The study was facilitated by Indicorps, an Ahmedabad based NGO. (http://www.indicorps.org/)
Research trip to Gujarat, covering Ahmedabad and villages in Mehsana district, bordering Rajasthan, 8 months after the Gujarat pogrom. This study was facilitated by Insaaf, a Human Rights group in Ahmedabad. Our team was lead by Wilfred D’Costa of Insaaf and Sanjana, a grass roots film and media activist of Pedestrian Pictures .We traveled around and heard stories, stayed for a while in an Adivasi school of Bhiloda, and visited relief camps in the Mehsana district. We also helped the Shared Footage Group, a grass-roots media group who were documenting on film the carnage, its stories and the loss it abetted.
Brochure for APSA, Association for Prevention and Social Action, 1999.
Logo design, RT Nagar Life, a local paper for the residents of RT Nagar, Bangalore.
My writings are viewable online at https://raahi.wordpress.com/writing
I used to review art and write articles for a Bangalore based Paper called Vijay Times. I have published articles on contemporary art events, contemporary dance in Bangalore, on Folk Art, and on the Art Market in Bangalore.
Catalogue , Icons of the Twentieth Century,2004, an art show curated by Dr Joseph Henselmann as part of his residential teaching programme at the College Of Fine Art, Chitrakala Parishath.2004.
Catalogue for Uday Vir Singh’s show ‘Multiplicity of Expression‘, 2005.
My poem, ‘And I thought you would ask me to leave’ was published by Chay Magazine, a platform for speaking about sex and sexuality in Pakistan, South Asia and abroad. [here]
In two performances of the Blank Noise project, an art project begun by Jasmeen Patheja, a Bangalore based artist. One intervention at Brigade Road, the first ‘Why are you looking at me?’ and an intervention on Majestic Bus Stand where we read out and distributed testimonials of women having undergone harassment(Kannada) inside buses and at the bus stand.2005,2006.
Wrote ‘The Eagle Story’ as part of film director Kamal Swaroop’s workshop, Phalke Stories at the Faculty of Fine Art, Baroda. Kamal Swaroop is the director of Om darbadar , among other films.2006
With Carol Periera , on her video-work and performance installation, ‘Ballistic‘. Carol Periera’s work involves costume, performance and installation.In one work which was a critique of the Iraq War, the performance involved getting into army suits and obeying instructions, traversing the all too artificial Water park in Bangalore with toy guns, and standing in attention while she sang her rendition of ‘Glory, Glory Hallelujah’. 2005.
FOSS.in 2007, Conference on Free Software and Open Source Platforms for various software applications.I’m a supporter of Open Source Models and the Open Source Movement in South Asia.I’m also interested in developing collaborative and Open Source frameworks within art paradigms.At the conference and after I have been a participant/observer of Linux Chix India, a chapter of the world wide support group for women within the Free-Software world.
‘Rethinking Religion in India‘ second of a five part conference cluster put together by the Research Centre Vergelijkende Cultuurwetenschap (Ghent University), the Centre for the Study of Local Cultures (Kuvempu University), the India Platform UGent (Ghent University), and the Karnataka Academy of Social Sciences and Humanities (KASSH). January 2009.
‘Enchantment and Politics’ , a talk and a day long workshop conducted by the Street Scholars Initiative in Bangalore conducted by Vivek Dhareshvar and Lata Mani with Professor Akeel Bilgrami’s (Dept of Philosophy, Columbia University) recent work on Gandhi, the Radical Enlightenment’s critique of science, and conceptions of unalienated life in Western and Indian traditions and Dr. Bhrigupati Singh (Harvard University) on ‘Erotics and Agonistics in Rural Central India: A Chapter in the Political Theologies of Popular Hinduism.
Presentations on ‘labels’
Presentation called “Tracing my Practice: From Shivajinagar Signs to Trafficking Labels” at the Center For Contemporary Theory’s annual workshop, 2006 called “Minorities, Questions and Contestation .The presentation traced my journey from Shivajinagar Signs which is a project that tries to address cultural co-existence and cultural erasure in the wake of the Gujarat riots, to ‘Trafficking Labels’ which is in some ways about tackling cultural erasure.
Presentation on ‘Get-up’, one of the levels within the labels paradigm. (Most of my project is conceptualized in English, but I’m now consciously trying to work with Hindi and Urdu.).This was at the Association for Studies in Interdisciplinary Education, ASIDE at the Arts Faculty, MSU, Baroda.
Translating the ‘labels’ idea for communities and groups:
At the Advanced programme on Dance Therapy, by Rainbow Inc., we were asked, on the third day to work with 12-13 year old children from Vidyaranya School, Hyderabad. With the children I did a session asking them to create a character that was based on themselves and any comic book character they admired, act out the character with a movement.
As an artist I seek to involve different communities to question and work with the theoretical and conceptual bases of my work.I seek to translate ideas from labels in my work with various groups all over the country.
My work is on view at www.fotolog.com/dun_duna_dun
Photoshop, Html, Basic Video Editing Soft wares, blogging Software required to publish on the Internet.
Elsewhere on the internet
Video work(experiments with stills and video)
Go Home: On girl street-children, 2005, March.
Be: On Sufism.2005, November.
Right now with ‘labels‘ my interests lie in identity, globalisation and the body. In it the quest is about uncovering phenomenological experiences and using them for transformative and positive growth.
I’m a keen watcher of global and national politics.During the time that the Indo US Nuclear deal or the 123 Agreement was being debated in Parliament, I , along with a group of friends and volunteers organised an event that sought the resolution of India Pakistan animosities by bringing voices together from all three sides.
The dream has since grown into a collaborative blog where these voices and other events are going to find space.
‘labels’ relies on the disciplines of Liberation Theology, psychology, sociology, identity theory and phenomenology for theoretical input.
I also worked with a group of mentally challenged and physically ‘different’ people experimenting with art and movement therapy.This work was located at V1 Society and New Friends Society, Vadodara, some of it being under the supervision of Hemendra Bhatt, a Baroda based visual art therapist.I’m very interested in furthering this involvement with physically and mentally disabled people.
I’m keen on developing an interface with technological and scientific tools, code, machines, software et al for my present and coming projects.The emphasis however is on how best we could use these media to better the lives of all those around us as well as ourselves.
Profiles around the web:
At artandculture.com, a website for promoting and networking with people in art and culture.
Profile at the Social design network, Design 21.
Professional Bio at Linkedin
Raheema Begum, 2011.