It is often the cultural, political, and religious laws practiced in every society that dictate how we value certain things in life. And these traditions may have led to the growing problem on discrimination and inequality—particularly for women. But there are things whose value should remain absolute regardless of your race, belief, gender, and status in life.
Sujatro Ghosh, a 24-year-old artist-activist from Calcutta, is challenging how his country values women through “The Cow Mask Project”, a photography series he launched in 2017.
According to National Crime Bureau Data, there has been a significant growth in crimes against women in India since 2014. This includes the rape and murder of women and children as young as eight years old. This disturbing statistic led Ghosh to challenge how his country values women by juxtaposing it with how most Indian Hindus place a high value on cows, which they consider a sacred animal.
For “The Cow Mask Project”, Ghosh photographs women wearing cow masks in various locations. Ghosh elaborated on his Instagram about the project:
My art comes as a form of protest.
In my country Cows are more important than a woman’s life with more security. (Reference: Majority of Hindus believe cow as their holy animal and they worship it though Majority of Muslims consume it as a part of their daily meal.) The debate is never ending “Whether to consume or worship it” but gaining political benefits out of it is wrong. Why not let the people decide what they want to consume.
I will be photographing women from different parts of the society.
This is silent form of protest which starts from India Gate, one of the most visited sights in India.
My art comes as a form of protest. In my country Cows are more important than a woman's life with more security. (Reference: Majority of Hindus believe cow as their holy animal and they worship it though Majority of Muslims consume it as a part of their daily meal.) The debate is never ending "Whether to consume or worship it" but gaining political benefits out of it is wrong. Why not let the people decide what they want to consume. I will be photographing women from different parts of the society. This is silent form of protest which starts from India Gate, one of the most visited sights in India. I would be more than happy if you reach out to me and want to get photographed or maybe join this form of protest. #RisingBeyondJingoism #WHPstandout #indiagate #cow #women #protest #womenpower #weekend #indiarising #workingwomen #live #animals #love #laugh #thecowmaskproject #standup #everydayeverywhere #indiaphotoproject #everydayindia #womenphotographers #myfeatureshoot
He clarified that he has nothing against protecting cows. The project’s main goal is to draw attention towards the fact that in India, most cows are better protected and respected than women.
He also shared in his website his belief in “art […] as a powerful tool in portraying this essence [of the human spirit] when it reflects the times we live in.”
Since I was a child, there has always been an intrinsic urge within me to capture the essence of human spirit, especially of resilient people emerging from crises, not willing to give up a fight. Art, I believe, is the most powerful tool in portraying this essence when it reflects the times we live in. Over time, through my work, I learnt how art plays a major role in helping us form opinions, educate us about truth and transform mindsets. This has always been the quest behind all my works on social issues, such as Queer rights, diasporic tensions, women rights. To capture the narratives of their struggle which at times is a result of institutionalized mechanisms of injustice and the urgency to fight for a right cause to bring a change is what I wish to convey through my art. I seek to give voice to the voiceless, induce power within the powerless.
Here are some of his works:
We are not stepping back. You raped us, You tried to sabotage us and now you’re threatening us to kill. Senior journalist and anchor of @ndtv ’s Prime Time show @ravishkumarndtv is getting death threats on phone and was trolls on social media. Ravish is also getting abusive messages and comments on his Facebook page and WhatsApp and his family is threatens with dire consequence. A tweet shared by NDTV shows an accused caller openly threatening the journalist. “Ek Din Mere Haataon Se Marega Tu. Dauda Dauda Ke Marunga, Yehan Se Pakistan Le Jaonga, Jahan Tumhara Ghar Hai (I give him a warning that you will die at my hands one day. Will make you run and chase you to Pakistan where you have your home.)” Not only Ravish all of us speaking up against the injustices happening in our country is getting the same response by these organised group of goons. If you think this can stop us, let me tell you my friends your end is near. 🖕🏽 #journalist #women #men #protest #middlefinger #deaththreats #moral #humanrights #womenrights #threat #streets #journalism @everydaybronx #newyork #unwomen @oxfam_india #walk #love #live #life #privilege #universal #india
The incident of a hugging/kissing couple getting beaten up in the Calcutta Metro Railways by a bunch of middle and old aged men doesn’t only leave me astonished and angry but makes me furious. It makes me think over and over again when I portrayed my city ‘Calcutta’ to the world as ‘the most liberal part of India’. Calcutta’s history of liberal women/men and protests is not new to anyone, starting from the britishers who ruled us to the left government and current one everybody has seen it. But we must not try to hide our double standards and classism in the glory of the past and Rabindranath’s legacy. We have seen the greatest tragedy of the Bengal famine in 1943 and risen up from there where nobody had anything home. This is just another phase with a bunch of scumbags, fascists trying to impose their beliefs on us. It’s about time we break the shackles and tell the world we stand for what our values are and elevate our minds. As they all say “A healthy mind does not speak for ill of others.” A rally was organized outside Tollygunge Metro station on 2nd May as a protest against an alleged moral policing incident inside a train compartment in Calcutta. #bengali #women #metro #subway #protest #incident #moral #humanrights #womenrights #couple #streets #yellow #bodilyautonomy #bodilyintegrity #unwomen @oxfam_india #saree #love #live #life #white #kolkata #calcutta
We are done with the first solo exhibition of The Cow Mask Project in the beautiful city of Laval along the river Mayenne, France. Thank you so much everyone for the incomparable success ✨🧚🏻♂️ Thanks to the French government, Atmosphere53 and thank you so much to everyone associated with the Exhibition. #thecowmaskproject #exhibition #women #feminism #unesco #mayenne #cow #exhibition #street #fashion #rain #activism #art #photography #streetstyle #parisian #paris #laval #architecture #culture #archilovers #france #imwithher
Subway New York’18 Travelling back from work. After the amazing opening of the Exhibition at the Kalmar Art Museum, Sweden. The Cow finally travelled to the city of dreams New York. We will be here for a whole good month today onwards and we hope to see you if you want us to be in your locality or you want to grab a coffee with us. #thecowmaskproject @yourmaskproject @nytimes #women #womenrights #humanrights #RisingBeyondJingoism #cowitself #NewYork @nytimestravel #CowgoesInternational #NYC #protest #misplacedpriorities #joinus #subwaynyc #newyorkers #beautiful #thedailyshow #travel #unitedstates #cow
Durga is coming. Calcutta'17 Hello again Calcutta !! The cow finally started travelling. Thank you so much for the love and support. I will be in Bangalore & Delhi, North East India soon. Anyone and Everyone willing to be a part of this project can reach out to me via Email (given on my bio) or maybe contact me through the social media platforms. #women #womenrights #humanrights #RisingBeyondJingoism #cowitself #odissi #dance #Bengal #villages #silent #misplacedpriorities #joinus #festive #subhaschandrabose #cow #protest #portrait #humanrightswatch #urban #noorimages #getty #thecowmaskproject #calcutta #everydayindia
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