Project Bulletin #06

The sixth edition of the Project Bulletin returns with Poster Women, which began in 2006 as a visual mapping and documentation of the women’s movement in India through the posters the movement and its campaigns had produced.

Project Bulletin helps our readers reconnect with our past and ongoing projects so that as our projects and partnerships grow, our readers have a sense of continuity about our work.


Project Background

The women’s movement was—and remains—a vibrant and complex one, which lacks an easily-accessible knowledge base. Poster Women asks how its history would look through the posters and images it has used. Answering this question was only possible with the help of women’s groups and students from various parts of the country who helped us source posters, often locating them in personal collections gathering dust in offices or organizing workshops to discuss the importance of preserving this otherwise ephemeral form of documentation.

The archive houses 1500 posters covering caste, disability, sexuality, the environment, marginalisation, and more. They are organised thematically and annotated with the date, the campaign, the designer, the story/concept behind the poster, and how it was used. Short essays by activists also provide background information demonstrating the multi-faceted histories of women’s movements. Out of the 1500 posters, we selected 200 for an exhibition which travelled to several places within and outside India. 

The exhibitions served to provide possibilities of interaction and viewership in a physical space; the web archive provides open access to these posters, which a physical space could not adequately provide, though we are aware that the internet too limits access in many ways.

We hope that the archive will serve women’s groups, and feminist activists, while also being helpful for students and researchers in women’s studies, visual culture, arts and aesthetics, and anyone who loves posters! 

Painting Our World: Women’s Messages through Art

Poster Women’s second phase was Painting Our World: Women’s Messages through Arta travelling exhibition of various forms of traditional artistic expression: paintings, embroidery, crafts, and other visual media by women artists from all over the country. The collection was curated with the help of writer and craft promoter Minhazz Majumdar. 

The exhibition travelled to Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Jaipur, Vadodara, Kolkata, Chandigarh, Shillong, and Imphal, documenting and showcasing these artistic works that rural women have used to engage with social issues like violence against women, dowry, and HIV/AIDS. 

These forms of expression are created and devised by marginalised and socially excluded (tribal and Dalit) women and address issues ranging from livelihood rights, health awareness, communalism, and violence to marriage and domestic work. 

The exhibits showcased include:

• Madhubani from Bihar

• Patachitra from West Bengal

• Contemporary Phad paintings from Rajasthan

• Appliqué embroidery from Orissa

• Jogi art from Gujarat

• Sujuni embroidery from Bihar

• Lambani embroidery from Karnataka

• Khovar paintings from Hazaribagh, Jharkhand

• Gond art from Madhya Pradesh

• Khatwa from Bihar