Category Archives: Artist

‘We are not the Others’ – Transgender painters of Sahodari Foundation come to Bangalore

Here comes February and with it comes love and art. The transgender artists of Sahodari Foundation will participate and showcase their beautiful artworks at an exhibition organised by the foundation in Bangalore International Centre located in Domlur, Bengaluru.

Around 25 artists from the transgender community will showcase their paintings in a show aptly titled with Pride ‘We are not the Others”.

“I am excited about the show” says Santhiya. “This is the first time I am exhibiting my art exhibition in Bangalore for people to see. Coming to Bengaluru excites me because I’ve heard that the cultural scene here is very vibrant. It is a happening city” says Santhiya.

A previous exhibition image

Abstract, surrealism cubism and pop art paintings will be exhibited in the show.

“We are Not the Others” is an exhibition of artworks and paintings of transgender painters of India, the event is curated by transgender artist and activist Kalki Subramaniam (www.kalkisubramaniam.com) who is an artist herself and has trained transgender persons to practice art through the foundation. Acrylic paintings, surrealist paintings and pop art paintings will be on display at the event. Visitors can buy the artworks and support the transgender artists.

Thirty percent of the sale of Kalki Subramaniam’s artworks will benefit to empower the education of young and poor transgender persons.
The opening event inauguration happens on Feb 5th at 6 pm. President of the Inner Wheel Club of Coimbatore Ms. Prema Aiyer will inaugurate the exhibition. The guest of honor of the event is artist and theatre personality Padmashri. Arundathi Nag.

On the same opening day event, on Feb 5th around 7.15 pm, transgender artist and activist Kalki Subramaniam will be performing a performance Art play named ‘Phallus, I Cut. The performance is done as a solo act of body movement with colours and poetry. ‘Phallus, I Cut’ is a poem written by Kalki Subramaniam which is transitioned into a performance Art. The act will challenge the stereotyped gender norms existing about trans and gender queer identities.

Kala makes her art during an art workshop

On Feb 6th and 7th during the mornings and afternoons, there are several workshops available free of cost for the transgender community, workshops include : Introduction to Photography, Abstract painting workshop, Flow painting workshop, motivation workshop, Madhubhani Art workshop and Story Telling Workshop. For details of the workshops please see www.sahodari.org website.

On the same opening day event, on Feb 5th around 7.15 pm, transgender artist and activist Kalki Subramaniam will be performing a performance Art play named ‘Phallus, I Cut. The performance is done as a solo act of body movement with colours and poetry. ‘Phallus, I Cut’ is a poem written by Kalki Subramaniam which is transitioned into a performance Art. The act will challenge the stereotyped gender norms existing about trans and gender queer identities.

For the first time, a virtual reality art exhibition of Kalki’s past pop artworks is also included as a experience using Oculus glasses within the gallery. This exhibition is supported by Shimeraa Visual Studio.

Another highlight of the evening, many artworks and stories exhibited in the gallery space will give the viewer an extended interactive experience through the UniteAR App, adding voice, video and movement to the images on the wall. Viewers can experience this Augmented Reality using their mobile phones when they install UniteAR App.

We use AR and VR technologies to tell our stories of joy and pain, hope and loss, success and faliure.

On Feb 7th at 8 pm, the exhibition closes. The event is sponsored by Inner Wheel Club of Bangalore.

Abinaya, the talented transgender artist gone too soon

Another transgender girl is gone. Gone too soon. Abinaya, a long term friend of me and a participant in many of our Sahodari Foundation workshops and programs died in Chennai under mysterious circumstances. She was a wonderful Bharatnatyam dancer, a talented painter and a henna artist. She was a pre op trans woman who had suffered from epilepsy for so many years. We all have been so supportive, caring and considered her as a family. She has extensively travelled with us for many programs and performances.

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A week ago, she was found dead in her room in Chennai. Blood was found and there was razor blade cuts in her genitals. It looked like suicide. She was also into pill addiction and substance abuse which from which we could never pull her out . We wanted to help her but she would always deny that she was not taking any pills. It is not clear how she died and we are unable to get details from her biological family, We do know that they were supportive to her too. She was in a love affair with a guy which they say might have broken her heart.

One thing is clear though. She was depressed. It could be the broken love, could be the stress of the pandemic situation in Chennai, may be an unfulfillment wish that she always desired, may be she could never be who she wanted to be. She trusted no one and was always keeping a distance though she was close to all. No one imagined she would die Another girl, another friend, another community member is gone. Couldn’t even imagine she would choose to end it all. It was sudden and she never showed any signs. We couldn’t meet her for the past 4 months because of the lockdown.

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The above is her artwork which she painted it in the first Transhearts art workshop. This was her very frist canvas artwork too. She was an enthusiastic participant. She had such flair for art and design. She created this artwork about a transgender person who is pushed to sex work for her basic needs and how in her life as a sexworker how she is exploited by many. The artwork sold at an exhibition and she was so happy to receive the money for her first artwork.

None of us in Chennai and other places could attend her funeral, it became a small ceremony done with a few family members and transgender community who lived closeby her. What now left to us is only her memories. We mourn deeply for our friend and sister who we will never be able to see again. Her voice still lingers me, She always said ‘akka’ or ‘Kalki akka’ and would give her 100 percent in learning.

Abhinaya with the Sahodari team in Kolkatta on our way to Nepal

In the above picture taken in 2011, she is seen happily in a white dress with our team stopping in Kolkatta at an NGO office on our way to Katmandu, Nepal for a performance.

While we work vigorously for an equal, unbiased, accepting world for transgender people, the suicides and deaths make all of us go into depression, despair and takes long time to come to terms.

It was so unfortunate that we could not reachout to her in person during her most difficult and stressful times. The pandemic situation has locked us and we were unable to travel. The entire transgender community was in such difficulty and despair. May be things would have been different if there was no Covid 19. May be she would have chosen life.

She did not die because of the virus itself, but she died because of the stressful and difficult situation which arose because of Covid 19, unable to hold herself to life’s mounting pressures and disappointments.

Our prayers and condolences to her family. Abinaya will always be remembered. We pay our tears from our broken hearts as tribute to you. Rest in peace amazing girl!

Kalki Subramaniam, trans activist and artist.