The Blank Noise Project
Blank - that which is not allowed meaning, form or articulation.
Noise - that which heightens, builds itself.
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. 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 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. The first phase of the project, throughout 2003, was more reflective with 9 participants and workshops. The second phase has been more public, through street interventions and blogging. To a large extent, the public and the media response have shaped the project.