Nirbhaya’s story is equal parts abject, and inspirational. Therefore, a fitting memorialization for Nirbhaya would have to be an anti-memorial, so that she may never be forgotten. In my anti-memorial for Nirbhaya, I reimagine her as a superheroine, whose superpower is that she can eradicate rape and sexual violence in any form, anywhere.
This anti-memorial consists of a series of charcoal drawings of Superheroine Nirbhaya in her costume wearing her own Anonymous mask as a symbol of female empowerment with bindi, kohl, nose stud, and lip color. The model for the drawings is the artist herself, thus making the drawings a form of self-portraiture and inserting herself into the Nirbhaya character.
The drawings are made in the format of enlarged comic book panels. Each drawing is accompanied by a speech or thought bubble, and a text box. The text box on the panel provides the meaning of Nirbhaya - "In Sanskrit, Nirbhaya means the fearless woman." In one drawing, her speech bubble says, “I am Nirbhaya, and I am back.” In another drawing, her speech bubble says, “I am becoming fearless,” and she is answered by many budding Nirbhayas, “Me Too.”
The drawings of the superheroine figure are also printed on larger-than-life-size sheer fabric panels, with no accompanying text or background. When hung from the ceiling of a space, the panels create a ghostly installation in which the fabric moves ever so slightly with a draft of wind or with people walking past. Distinct from the smaller scale drawings, the large-scale fabric prints create an experiential installation for the viewers.
About the project videos
Nirbhaya Anti-Memorial Project
What to learn more about Nirbhaya project?
One young woman faced an unspeakable crime. In its aftermath, a legion of survivors and their allies gathered to fight against the everyday violence. What began in one country became a story that spread around the globe.
Through the art of the anti-memorial, a new vision of the victim can form into a hero — one reborn from extreme trauma into a symbol of hope.