Pratishtha is an independent documentary filmmaker and photographer. She undertook a Master’s course in Middle Eastern & African Studies at the University of Tel Aviv, Israel and holds a P.G. Diploma in Communications for Development (UNICEF) from Xavier’s Institute of Communications, Mumbai, India. She uses photography and documentary as a medium to create visual evidence in the field of developmental communications. She has previously worked with the National Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development as a short filmmaker and has assisted various NGOs in Policy Research & Advocacy. She sincerely hopes that her photographs bring to the fore issues that need human empathy the most and contribute to the world’s dialogues on development.
Deconstructing Women in the Domestic Space
A household may practice egalitarianism when it comes to chores yet there can be many all-pervasive factors that affect the domestic experiences of a woman. One of them being, the “modesty of a woman", which relentlessly shadows them into their domestic sphere. The presence of male members of the family, or even male helpers, afflicts their freedom of fully exploiting domesticity - tangibly or intangibly-resulting in a very one dimensional and restricted experience. Policing of women’s clothing has always been patriarchy’s prerogative, invariably permeating our households.
Often rebuked for how I carried myself around the house and constantly reprimanded for what I wore even within the confines of my house due to the ubiquitous presence of men, I never had a sense of space that belonged to me where I could be away from the strictures of gender roles and nurture myself. Through a series of self-portraits, I have tried to explore what it means to be a woman in an unrestricted domestic realm (that I share with my husband). It’s an attempt at reinterpreting a version of domestic, which is freeing and detached from any claustrophobic male gaze.
As I transcend from a gendered to an ungendered arena, I find that the absence of over-sexualisation of women is an integral part in liberating oneself and stepping outside of tightly structured gendered expectations, where there is no “right” way or an appropriate manner in which I choose to lounge in the comforts of my house. This freedom has helped me reclaim a space of my own in the domestic that empowers me, where I can battle my depression without being called a lethargic; freely photograph anomalies in the house and not be looked upon as an oddball or a disgrace to womanhood.