HIJRA FANTASTIK is an inquiry into a feminity not defined biologically and grapples artistically with the contradictory Hijra identity as a woman and as a third gender: an idea, which can also be attempted as the structure for a lesbian identity. The exhibition HIJRA FANTASTIK explores this idea as a contribution to the Year of the Women at the Schwules Museum.
In India “Hijra” is used as a description of a long-established trans feminity. Especially since India’s highest court acknowledged a third gender one to two million Hijra hope for a progressive social change. For an often exoticized, archaic-seeming culture, whose rigidity partially stems from the criminalization and disenfranchisement of Hijra under British colonial rule, this would mark significant upheaval.
The starting point of HIJRA FANTASTIK is the photographic collaboration between Claudia Reiche and a small Hijra community in Bangalore. During a residency at the Goethe Institut Bangalore in 2014 the artist sought out the contact for a shared photo project. The result of this encounter are 400 images, taken by the Hijras and given for publication.
Insisting on an attitude beyond romantization or folkloristic appropriation was made easier by the introductory question posed by the Hijras to the artist: „Why are you here?“ In taking up this question HIJRA FANTASTIC aims – in spite of and due to the violence of societal and ideological conditions – at a Space of the Utopian, at the borderline of lesbian and trans female conceptualizations.
Not forgetting that the contemporary emancipation movement of Hijras as a third gender is still fighting against victorian ideas of gender and sexuality, it is necessary to think ahead for fantastical spaces, loopholes and alliances in spite of the inertia of ideological change. Therefore. Here…
HIJRA FANTASTIK tackles this structure as space adventure using room installations, collages, literary elements as well as photographic and video pieces, presenting it by means of an historical episode, which takes up the still pending but demanded participation of Hijras in Indian space travel.
The Hijra organization Delhi Pradesh Hijra Kalyan Sabha demanded in 1984 that Hijras, as representatives of India, should be send into orbit in a sowjet-indian space mission. An open letter of this organization approached the heads of states through an open letter with this demand. So far without success… Or, with the piercing success of the Not-Accomplished, and the power of absurdity, the exhibition thinks further belatedly: Which Sex is the Sun, the Moon, are You?
The exhibition is a cooperation with Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan.
YEAR OF THE WOMEN* is supported by the Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa (Senate Department for Culture and Europe).