Swati Arora deposited Fugitive aesthetics: performing refusal in four acts in the group Urban Studies on Humanities Commons 8 months, 3 weeks ago
This chapter discusses the aesthetic of refusal as it is articulated in contemporary performances in India and South Africa while debates around the #MeToo movement continue to 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, artists and activists 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 refusal. It examines the workings of racialised capitalism and raises 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.