Why this name? Blank Noise?
Blank: no form, no meaning.
Noise: heightens, builds, breaks form.
Blank Noise put together are two words that contradict themselves.
We experience eve teasing daily. It is a sexual violation but we ignore it. At the same time, we structure our lives to avoid the occurrence of it - by ’dressing decently’, ’coming back home on time’, etc, thereby making unwanted rules for ourselves and not recognizing ourselves as citizens.
This daily silent experience of street sexual harassment is what comes closest to the term blank noise.
When? Where? How? Why?
Blank Noise was initiated in August 2003 by Jasmeen Patheja from Bangalore and a small group of 9 participants, all girls.
Blank Noise started off as her final year student project while she was studying for a fine arts diploma at the Srishti School of Art Design and Technology. The project was conceived as a personal reaction to street sexual harassment.
Jasmeen says, "The threat of being sexually harassed every time I was out of home and then labeling this invasion of my privacy with such an innocuous term as ’eve teasing’ made me realize that this is an offence that has often been ignored or trivialized. Moving to a new city at the age of 19 made me feel more vulnerable to the situation where there was no ’home’ to run back to. When I would discuss it with my peers, there was a normalcy attached to it – ’yes, it happens everyday’ or ’it’s normal’, or complete denial, like asking, ’how come this happens only to you’
But I know it was never just my problem."
Jasmeen started by asking a group of over 60 girls from Srishti to make a mind map with the word public space. In three minutes words such as groping, fear, vulnerable, weak, staring, feeling sick appeared. She proposed the project but only 24 of them responded. The rest felt it was ’normal’ or that it ’wasn’t a big deal’, almost as if you expect it and, therefore, accept it.
The immediate denial towards eve teasing as an issue triggered the project.