Arts Festival for the South Asian Community in New York

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Engendered, the multidisciplinary annual arts festival being held in New York, with its focus on South Asian arts, performances, and cinema that explores the issues related to human rights and gender & sexuality in the region, is already drawing plenty of attention from the public and the media alike.

New York, the Mecca for transcultural arts and birthplace of various cultural movements is all abuzz with Engendered - the multidisciplinary annual arts festival, featuring modern South Asia. Engendered promises a peek into the best of South Asian arts, performances, and cinema that explores the issues related to human rights and gender & sexuality in the South Asian region. The art exhibition Purdah2.0 ( is on from June 30-July 15 at Halvai Gallery, 75 Grand Street, New York, NY.

Acting as a medium to raise awareness and break the silence that surrounds LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) and human rights issues, Engendered, this year, is celebrating the historic win for the community in India. With the Delhi high court ruling Section 377 as a violation of fundamental rights, and legalizing homosexuality, the cheer has spread even to this festival. Purdah 2.0: Body Matters, the art exhibition at Engendered, features leading, iconic and emerging artists from India, Pakistan, Iran, U.S & China like Shailja Gupta, Amita Bhatt, Pritika Chowdhry, Noelle Williams, Raghava K.K, Ariane Lopez-Huici, Marco Guerra and Yasmina Alaoui amongst others.

A case in point is participating artist Shailja Gupta, who creates magic through her sculptures, under the theme - spiritual. An artist with a keen eye for details she reaches out to her audience through and is participating in Engendered for the first time with her site specific installation "Gods and Dolls". Her work speaks quietly and simply to a cross-section of atypical museum/gallery audeince. To continue her support, she is also co-coordinating I-View film (the film component of engendered) 2009 in Lincoln Center, New York in August which will highlight the new genre of films from Bollywood. Shailja says "This new genre of films contains movies such as Dostana, Luck by Chance and Let's Talk among others which have opened their arms to taboo issues such as gay relationships or adultery in man- woman relationships". To support the cause and raise awareness, eminent Indian actors like John Abraham, and Boman Irani, and directors like Tarun Mansukhani, Zoya Akhtar, and Mira Nair will also actively present at the film festival.

For the culture buff in New York, it can't get better than this. The cultural capital will see various activities this summer which will showcase the South Asian community as a whole. While this multi-cultural event is barely 2 years old, it has already generated responses from mainstream media like BBC, Newsweek, and even the NY Times. What we look forward to is, how this cultural festival of the South Asian community, which addresses the concerns related to gender, sexuality, ritual and religions, achieves success in breaking barriers and moves ahead every year.


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Suzanne Hunt
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