OBJECTIVE: Developing an entire project from concept, prototype, testing to development.
DURATION: 12 months
TEAM: Shalini Sardana & Maria Mortati (Thesis Advisor)
FINAL PRODUCT: Printed Thesis Book, Participation in public exhibition, Interactive website and a thesis talk.
The central idea of my thesis interrogates the question:
"Are women around the world more segregated by social, economic and cultural differences or are they more unified through their struggles created by a culturally imposed ideology of femininity?"
Women around the world face oppression. For some it is a fight for survival. For others it is a fight to claim their identity. Boxing, the most quintessential image of masculinity is also the perfect metaphor for our culture where a woman finds herself perpetually struggling between proving herself as a contender while complying with an imposed performance of womanhood.
For my MFA design thesis, I created an interactive and participatory experience about how women struggle for empowerment across the world against a backdrop of varied and ineluctable cultural norms. It is inspired by the lives of three unlikely female boxers from the most oppressed parts of the world.These women are fighting more than just gender stereotypes.
Inspiration for this project came from a documentary, Burqa Boxers created by a filmmaker, friend and fellow immigrant from India, Alka Raghuram. The film explores the struggles, hopes, dreams and resilience of a group of slum-dwelling Muslim women in Kolkata, India, who have found boxing to be a vehicle for personal emancipation despite relentless and systematic cultural and social domination. Through my research I found this to be a growing phenomenon in many parts of the world particularly where women face systematic oppression.
Through this experience I hope to shift the perspective of the western world towards these women in oppressed countries. Instead of labeling them as a homogenous group of powerless, complicit victims with no hope out of poverty and social oppression, I want to reveal their resilient human spirit, despite their circumstances. This shift in perspective is essential to creating a deeper, more meaningful connection between ‘us’ and ‘them.’
I also hope to instigate a dialogue for women in the west to reflect beyond their progressive and liberated lifestyles about how culturally conditioned ideologies of femininity create oppression in their own lives. In this regard, the experience INSIDE THE RING turns the focus back to the American woman and poses the question : "What's your fight?" As it turns out when I took this project out into the real world, I was surprised and overwhelmed by the responses I got.