Urvashi Butalia is the curator of the show “Women Changing India” exhibition that has opened at the Gallery O11 in Sandton.
The exhibit is a collection of powerful stories of a feminist India which is rarely seen or spoken of but through this visual feast they present a force for transformation of thought and actions especially for our South African women. The exhibit is an extension of the coffee table book that is a must-have!
Butalia, renowned Indian feminist, author and publisher, was presented with this year’s Goethe Medal on August 28 at the annual Goethe Institue Awards in Weimar, Germany. She won this honour along with Lebanese author Emily Nasrallah and Russian journalist, historian and translator, Dr Irina Scherbakowa. v
The award is bestowed to those who show exceptional competence in the German language as well as exceptional contribution to international cultural exchanges.
BNP Paribas also known as “Bank of the West” chose to work with Butalia and her publishing house to bring this exhibit together to showcase on the positive side of India’s women, for that’s what gets much less attention than the negative.
Can a single book or an exhibition change perceptions? Butalia comments, “I think it’s difficult to say whether a single book or an exhibition, no matter how far they travel, can change anything, or can bring about change in a country as large and diverse as India.
Change in countries like ours is not linear; it comes in a zig-zag way, sometimes in a lateral way, sometimes two-steps-forward-one-step-back. But in order to fight for change, it’s important to focus on the negative that needs changing, and the positive that’s inspirational. That’s what this book is part of — a large process of change, in which it is one element.”
More about Butalia: In 1984, Butalia and Ritu Menon started India’s first feminist publishing house, Kali for Women, with a sense of urgency about bringing women’s voices into the male-dominated world of Indian literature. After they parted ways in 2003, Butalia established Zubaan Books, which publishes, among other things, autobiographies and histories of people whose narratives still remain largely invisible in Indian publishing.
In 1998, Butalia wrote the award-winning book The Other Side of Silence: Voices from the Partition of India which compiled oral histories of the Partition at a time when very little had been recorded about the experiences of individuals.
The exhibition will be on display and open for public viewing at Gallery 011 in Sandton from 1 November to 9 November.