Mallika Taneja will be in Brussels in September and October and will lead a workshop inspired by Women Walk at Midnight, an initiative taking place in New Delhi, India.
This workshop is looking at questions arising at the messy intersections of performance, defiance and the mundane. By exploring the simple and somewhat unassuming act of walking in the studio and then placing ourselves onto the landscape of the city, this workshop will explore the performative possibilities of walking, both individually and collectively.
Taking off from the experiences of Women Walk at Midnight, an initiative in New Delhi, India, where groups of women meet in different parts of the city and stroll around past midnight, this workshop invites women from Brussels to place themselves in their city. We use this as a springboard to explore notions of gaze, the public and the private, consent and the need to ‘be careful’. The workshop will also tease out some questions around the ‘collective’, the claims to hold diversity, the place and space for an individual in it.
Each day, we will explore questions around our feminisms, collectives, diversity and consent through the act of walking and playing with gaze in the studio and then, by placing ourselves repeatedly on the scape of the city in areas chosen by the participants. We will bring particular awareness to the shifts in our bodies in the contrast of the controlled privacy of the studio and the public scrutiny of the street. The workshop will build on each days learning and invite participants to use the strength of the collective to explore any discomfort they might have with their surroundings.
This workshop is open to cis and trans* women.
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Walking as an act of assertion has been central to the feminist movement in India. From women walking around their villages beating steel utensils to demand rights to the quiet silent walks that we all embarked upon to mourn the death of Jyoti Pandey in December 2016, walking masses of people have always been a threat to the establishment.
But what if there is only one body at play? Does anyone notice? Does it matter?
In 2016, I decided to set out on a 24 hour walk. I was interested in the image of a body cutting through the landscape of the busy streets of Delhi, to walk continuously, to tire, and to walk in spite of the fatigue. The idea of letting the mind win over matter is for me, central to the idea of protest. At no point does one forget the gaze that the street of the city cast on the female body. This constant gaze makes walking a performative act. The difficulty of living in a city like Delhi is that at a certain point in the day, walking alone is not an option for women. And so began the process of walking post midnight as groups of women and this saw the birth of Women Walk at Midnight.
Women Walk at Midnight currently takes place every month in different neighbourhoods of Delhi each time led by a woman of that particular neighbourhood. On the eve of 15th of August, the 72nd independence day of India, women will undertake a 12 hour long walk, cutting across several neighbourhoods of Delhi. You may follow the initiative here.
The inspiration for the walks comes from Maya Krishna Rao’s theatre piece ‘Walk’.
Mallika Taneja is a theatre artist living and working in New Delhi, India. She works closely with issues related to gender through her performances and interventions. She is interested in looking at the body against the vast backdrop of the city and studying how bodies occupy, ally and defy both individually and through finding community. Currently, Mallika tours her solo piece BE CAREFUL that speaks of victim blaming, the never ending responsibility on women and the unfortunate and ironic conflation between what women wear and the violence that is meted out on them. She is constructing a new work ALLEGEDLY that examines the cross sections of consent, law, truth, believability and memory and another work around the silences and stigma around mental illness.
In India, she is part of the collective ‘Women Walk at Midnight’ that organises a monthly stroll across different neighbourhoods in Delhi at ‘forbidden’ hours. She also has started to explore pleasure, feminism and performance through the Sex Chat Room, which is a starting point of a larger project called ‘My Hollow Feminism’.
She will be performing BE CAREFUL at Théâtre les Tanneurs from 24 September to 5 October (Sunday and Monday off). More info on the theatre's website
Follow Mallika Taneja's work on
Photos : (c) Women Walk at Midnight