To Free the Curious: HFO 4.0
The ending of 2020 was marked with hopes for a better year. The replacement of zero with one made 2021 a year of the first ray of hope for the betterment of the world. With the increasing number of infections, the vaccine was the first step towards this year. The second, for the people of Pratisandhi, was the organization’s splendid event – Hell Freezes Over 4.0.
The style of welcoming them by the existing members was made as colorful as the online platform would permit. By the end of January, Pratisandhi made sure to bring together all the members for its first online grand event evening, where art broke the locks on once-locked chests to reveal the shallowness of the stigmas.
Expression through each art form
Pratisandhi members gathered over the online platform of Airmeet on 30th January 2021 for Hell Freezes Over 4.0. In the words of the organization’s Founder, “It aimed at bringing out those private discussions to public discourse.”
The event aimed at bringing in the creativity of the mind to express the theory of the classes and transform the private conversations into an artistic performance. The performances ranged from poetry to instrumentals, with the spice of comedy. Each performer had their own agenda behind the use of their method and the idea within it.
One of the performers, Muskan, projected the deep emotions of a girl’s experience through a monologue. As she explained, monologues allowed her to let the body speak out its memories. Music, on the other hand, as per musician Sameer, allows one to connect to the universe. It moves beyond words, which can limit the wordless. The bridge was built as he presented his numbers for the audience. Both the performers seem to coincide on the note that words are tools to express but not the only language to rely upon. The body possesses the potential to carry long-forgotten memories, and music can convey untranslatable emotions to the audience.
Parallel to these ideas of expression and projection, the comedian Shivam placed the importance of comedy. Comedy allows for free play beyond the codes of the serious rationale. It thrusts realization on the audience through this free play by its constant satire around the taboos.
What idea did the youth express?
The young minds of the century are not aware of the discussions around sexual assault and gender expression. However, that generalization might make one overlook the contextual differences among the youth. A section might be aware of the issues and the identity spectrum present in the world around. But there exists a section in a society where discussions have an equivalent value as gossip. Here conversations end at internet access and numb consumption of information. To break this chain of unaware consumption, maximum efforts were made to reach different sections of youth for the event.
To open discussion around stigmas, one needs to understand the layered structure of the society. Being part of this well-placed structure, the youth population can succumb to a mental frame that can accommodate discussions around gender equality in the binary equation, but not different gender expressions. Thus, such gatherings become a good starting point, which allows different characters to narrate their part of the gender story, to present their shade of assault, and to play their chords. Such gatherings allow locating what the Founder termed as “local changes”.
The performers, when approached, gave a consensus on the opinion that issues like lack of sexual education and sexual abuse still stand as taboo among the youth. The immediate circle of an individual might be able to provide a comfortable refuge, but the youth still lack the sensitivity and understanding for such confrontation. The primary reason for this unawareness is embedded in the history of the present. The stigmas associated with such discussions during the upbringing of the previous generation did not allow a free-flow of expression if one would be assaulted or body shamed. It did not allow boys to be their form of the masculine. It did not allow girls to understand the sudden bleeding, which was covered by old clothing of unanswered questions and lack of education.
The secondary reason for the shut minds of the present can be marked as one would examine the presence of the lack of unawareness in the upbringing of the present youth. Muskan, through her piece, beautifully portrayed the fear that imprisons the body of the victim as they try to express their grievance. The agents of society and the media do not fail to gain their respective share from their misery and inject the shame into their minds. Thus, HFO 4.0 became a significant spot for the audience to explore the unspoken knowledge for a better value system and more sensitivity towards the next victim or the next conversation around gender expression.
The overall agenda of the organization was embedded within the message portrayed through the event. Society does not need formal education for career prospects. It does not need money to create privileged divisions among the people. It needs conversation. It needs dialogue. It needs to listen to the silent monologues flowing through the nerves of the youth. It needs a conversation to open opportunity for each member who chose to stand up for their story. It needs neutralizers to freeze down the bars on the faces of the curious.
Featured Image: The Baker Orange