Nidhi Goyal is living her childhood dream of getting paid to talk and give gyan. A forced globe trotter, she says her...
What happens when you talk about disability through an artistic medium? What does speaking through art enable or open out that simply speaking may not? And what happens if the artist herself has a disability - how does that affect the relationship between her and her audience?
Nidhi Goyal, India's first disabled woman comedian, draws on her own life experiences as well as that of the people around her, just like other standup comics. She uses comedy as an extension of her activism on disability rights and gender justice: "I speak about disability, gender and sexuality. My conversations address the myths and assumptions in interactions that I and other persons with disabilities have, and highlight the vulgar curiosity, the problematic ignorance and the difficult stigma around being a woman, talking about sexual rights of persons with disabilities." What happens when these conversations happen through comedy, a medium designed to elicit a laugh? Nidhi believes humour can transform societies through reflection and change.
Shreya Ila Anasuya, writer of fiction and journalism, is the managing editor of Skin Stories. Housed at the non-profit Point of View, Skin Stories publishes first person narratives, reportage and commentary on disability, sexuality, and gender. As editor, Shreya midwives the narratives that make up the rich tapestry of Skin Stories, which has won two awards, been republished in the mainstream media, is used as a resource by other non-profits, and is taught in university classrooms around the world. “When people tell their own stories, especially when these stories are devalued and shrouded in myths and assumptions, it is a profoundly political act.” Shreya sees her role as supporting each writer in this act of storytelling.
We are delighted to invite Nidhi Goyal and Shreya Ila Anasuya to Mumbai Local, to share with us their stories of talking disability through art. With them, we will explore the power of art, laughter, words and personal experiences to represent subjects too often avoided. And discover what the arts of comedy and writing are able to bring to necessary and urgent conversations.
We look forward to seeing you on Friday for a wonderful evening with Nidhi and Shreya.
Session curated by Bishakha Datta
RSVP for this session opens on Monday, 17th February, 2020.
PS: Harkat is not yet wheelchair accessible. We will help everyone enter while a longer-term solution is being worked out.
Nidhi Goyal is living her childhood dream of getting paid to talk and give gyan. A forced globe trotter, she says her disability is not just her blindness but her vegetarianism- people judge her for both. Along with her spirituality, her mobile phone is also a part of who she is.
A writer, researcher, trainer, activist, and a comedian, she has many feathers in her cap. India’s first disabled woman comedian, Nidhi uses humour to “normalise” issues around disability gender and sexuality. She has performed in 5 countries in South Asia and Europe in the past 3 years.
She is the founder and executive director of rising flame, a Mumbai based non profit, working on rights of women and youth with disabilities. In her leadership, within 2 years of inception, the organisation won a national award from the Vice president of India. For nearly a decade, Nidhi has worked with leading women’s rights, human rights and disability rights organisations from all across India and the globe. Her trainings on disability, gender, diversity and inclusion have made way into many corporate offices and policy spaces as well.
Considered an opinion leader, Nidhi has extensively written about her experiences and rights of women and youth with disabilities in the New York Times, Guardian, telegraph, scroll, Yahoo originals etc and academic journals like reproductive health matters and ARROW for change. She has also authored chapters in books published by leading publishers including penguin and sage and is the co-author of the ground breaking website www.sexualityanddisability.org. She has given talks and lectures in universities, colleges, national as well as global forums, and TEDX events.
Her work and expertise has made her the president of a global women’s rights organisation, AWID. She sits on boards and committees nationally and globally including that of United Nations women- New York, Dutch Ministry, National Human Rights Commission-India, and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. In her 10 years of work, she has been felicitated and honoured by eminant organisations and personalities like the Vice President of India, Mr Amitabh Bachchan, Mr Subhash Chandra, and National Association for the Blind.
Often asked where does she get her energy from she says people give her energy and she endavours to give it back to them.
Shreya Ila Anasuya is an award-winning writer, journalist and editor. Her fiction has been featured on the Helter Skelter Anthology of New Writing Volumes V and VI, Verve Magazine, and Magical Women, an anthology of speculative fiction published by Hachette India. Her non-fiction and journalism focuses on books, culture, gender, sexuality, politics and rights, and has been published in the Caravan, The Wire, Scroll.in, The Print, Mint Lounge, The Swaddle, GenderIT, Deep Dives, and more. She is the managing editor of Skin Stories (housed at non-profit Point of View), India's first digital publication on disability and sexuality, which has been used by organisations such as Amnesty UK and is taught in university classrooms around the world. Shreya was a South Asia Laadli Fellow in 2015-16, a Felix Scholar, a Charles Wallace India Trust Scholar, and a Toto-Sangam House Fellow in 2019-2020. She received the Toto Award for Creative Writing in English, 2019. She is the narrator and writer of 'Gul', a storytelling performance with dancer Shinjita Roy, singer Vidhya Gopal, and director Lopamudra Chatterjee.