About the project
ongoing since 2003
Blank Noise began in 2003, in response to street harassment, at a time when the issue was invisible. Over the fifteen years, it mobilized thousands of citizens to become ‘Action Heroes’; take agency tackling street harassment. Blank Noise has worked to affect public consciousness. It builds testimonials of sexual assault. It is built through community listening and furthers public knowledge. Blank Noise is working on attitudes that connect spaces and geographies of violence; victim blame.
Most women, girls, in India and beyond, have been raised in an environment that warns them to, ‘be careful’, to ‘protect yourself ’, to not draw attention to yourself. This translates to: ‘If you’ve experienced sexual violence, you weren’t careful enough and you deserve it.’ As a result, most experiences of sexual violence are silenced, due to the fear of being blamed. An environment of victim blame justifies and perpetuates sexual violence.
The I Never Ask For It mission works to end victim blame by building testimonies of clothing. Participants bring in the garment they wore when they experienced sexual violence. The garment is a witness, memory, and voice. The project envisions ten thousand garments assembled in sites of public significance to arrest victim blame. It relies on processes, including workshops, talks, street interventions, and collaborations to build. It is motivated by the personal and collective healing the process offers. Survivors of violence report ‘we feel safe when are heard.’
The opposite of feeling blamed is being believed. I Never Ask For It works towards empathy. It works towards creating a new public memory and reference where 1000s of testimonies of garments will speak their story. Blank Noise asserts the right to live free from fear and defenceless. ‘Meet To Sleep’, asserts the right to live free from fear and defenseless.
About the artist
Jasmeen Patheja is an Artist in Public Service, committed to ending violence against women, girls and all persons. Patheja initiates ideas and facilitates collective feminist action towards the right to be defenceless. In 2003, Patheja founded Blank Noise to address the silence surrounding street harassment in India and globally. Blank Noise works to affect public consciousness, calling everyday citizens to become ‘Action Sheroes’/ Heroes/ Theyroes and take the agency to end gender-based violence. Over the 20 years, her approach has grown from street harassment to victim blame; emphasising the interconnectedness of gender-based violence across spaces.
Patheja designs methodologies to build testimonials of violence against women. Her practice is based on listening to lived experiences. It rests on the power of feminist solidarities. She works with themes including fear, public and private memory, imagination, shame, desire, belonging, empathy and the weight of defence. Select projects at Blank Noise include the I Never Ask For It Mission, Meet To Sleep and Talk To Me.