Swati Arora
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Fugitive aesthetics
Performing refusal in four acts
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This chapter discusses the aesthetic of refusal as it is articulated in contemporary performances in India and South Africa while the debates around the #MeToo movement continue to sadden, agitate and exhaust womxn around the globe. In the aftermath of the Indian Supreme Court acquitting the Chief Justice of India of all sexual harassment charges in May 2019, feminists are beginning to feel let down by the failed promises of the movement. The incessant pressure to vocalise narratives of sexual harassment preclude self-care, rest and strategic (non) productivity by burdening womxn with the emotional labour of reliving the trauma in public. This chapter discusses the artistic works of Thandiwe Msebenzi and Lebohang Motaung in South Africa, and Vijila Chirappad, Vanitha Mathil (women’s wall) and Blank Noise in India to explore their engagement with rest, sleep, beauty, stillness and community as forms of performing radical resistance. The artists and performers discussed highlight the workings of racialised capitalism and raise questions about labour and production – who has the right to leisure and who needs to keep working – and how they are intertwined with markers of class, caste, sexuality and gender. The discussion affirms the affective potential of art and performance as a powerful mode of creating community while #MeToo exhausts our faith in the legal infrastructures of the state.

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Intimacy and injury

In the wake of #MeToo in India and South Africa


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