A project centred on the fight against sexual harassment on the streets claiming women’s right to live without fear of being provoked or attacked: this is, in short, Black Noise, which for over 15 years has been mobilising thousands of ‘action heroes’ supporting and spreading the objective of the initiative. Behind the scenes is Indian artist Jasmeen Patheja, who has assembled a dossier full of testimonies of sexual attacks and, given the staggering number of episodes of harassment against single women occurring in the public parks of her country, has promoted a series of performances and events called ‘Meet to Sleep’. In the southern Asian country, in fact, victims of sexual harassment are too often considered guilty of wearing excessively provoking clothing. Jasmeen Patheja responded to this accusation with the project I Never Ask For It, aiming at collecting and displaying over 10.000 items of clothing women were wearing when they were harassed or attacked. From this point of view, the objective of the artist is to give voice and listen to the victims to help them fight their sense of isolation and promote at social level the idea that sexual harassment is never justified.
Blank Noise won the Visible Award 2019 at the end of a day in which the Visible Temporary Parliament gathered in debate in the boardroom of Paris’s Hôtel de Ville on 16th November. This edition of the award saw a collaboration between the founders of the project (Cittadellarte and Fondazione Zegna) and Lafayette Anticipation. The event was organized by Visible, born in 2011 from a partnership between the Pistoletto and Zegna foundations, and curated from the very beginning by Judith Wielander and Matteo Lucchetti. It is a two-year research project and the first European award aiming at producing and supporting socially engaged artistic practices in a global context.
As mentioned in a previous article, the winning project was chosen by a public jury, this time composed of over 200 people, 60 of whom were students from master programmes all over Europe. Five satellite sites also participated in the Parliament streaming from remote, contributing with questions and comments, and placing their votes. The satellite sites, part of Cittadellarte’s network of Embassies of the Third Paradise, were: Open Source Gallery in New York, with its founder, the artist and curator Monika Wuhrer; Kayu Lucie Fontaine in Bali, with its founder, the artist and curator Marco Cassani; Espronceda Institute for Arts and Culture in Barcelona, with its co-founder, the artist and curator Savina Tarsitano; the Bachelor’s Course in Curatorship at the Goldsmiths college in London, with Ginevra Naldini and its group of artists and curators; UNIDEE in Biella, i.e. the cradle of Visible, in the context of the post-university courses curated by Valerio del Baglivo and with the participation of mentors Janna Graham and Valeria Graziano.
Each participant in the event became a member of a temporary parliamentary assembly, occupying the conceptual and physical space of an actual parliament. “That context – we read in a press note of the award – instilled the debate with an authentic democratic spirit and, at the same time, highlighted the social potential of the projects presented. The active involvement of the public in the evaluation and final selection of the projects participating in the Visible Award makes this prize a unique and collective educational opportunity through the debate around the themes examined by the projects themselves”.
The other nine shortlisted projects were: Embassy by Richard Bell (Melbourne); Climavore: On Tidal Zones by Cooking Sections (Isle of Skye); Undercover Worker by Luke Ching Chin Wai (Hong Kong); Killing in Umm al-Hiran by Forensic Architecture (London); Tequiografías by Daniel Godínez-Nivón (Mexico City); Trampoline House by Morten Goll and Tone Olaf (Copenhagen); Dar Yusuf Nasri Jacir for Art and Research by Emily Jacir (Bethlehem); CareForce by Marisa Morán Jahn (various cities in the United States); Carved to Flow by Otobong Nkanga (Athens, Uyo). A year after the announcement of the ten projects selected by the Visible committee, a day of public debate designated Jasmeen Patheja as the winner of the 25.000 euros prize.
““Throughout its twelve years of activity, Jasmeen Patheja’s artistic project has managed to become a movement, – say the curators of the project Visible – rethinking the role of the artist in a horizontal way and turning the participants in the project into co-authors. Looking forward to 2030, the movement Blank Noise aims at creating a public art installation at the India Gate in New Delhi, where 10.000 items of clothing belonging to victims of violence will form, in the words of the artist, a living museum thanks to which we can collectively share the experience of violence and create new alliances between social sides for a different future”.”.
Judith Wielander e Matteo Lucchetti.
““With this fifth edition, Visible – concludes Paolo Naldini – confirms its mission: to create educational ecosystems based on research and on the support of artistic practices constituting organizations, institutions, movements, models actually capable of transforming the social contexts in which they develop”.”.