by Jannatul Mawa

Historically, domestic servants worked for food and lodging in better-off homes of predominantly rural eastern Bengal. Changes during the British colonial period gradually led to the introduction of wages for domestic service, but even after twice-achieved national independence in 1947 and 1971, no minimum wage, maximum working hours or holidays have been legislated by the government for those in domestic service. There is no public discourse around this issue.

Through her work, Close Distance, Jannatul Mawa (Nepal) wants to break the ‘spatial’ taboo that signifies an underlying class taboo in urban middle class homes. Although the mistress and the housemaid inhabit the same domestic space, their social and economic privileges, and their ideological worth are poles apart.

“Through my work I want to explore the possibility of creating bonds of intimacy among women who, according to dominant norms, are unequal, norms which we ourselves internalise. Even though the duration of this closeness is small, and the occasion of a photographer intruding will not do away with deeply embedded class distinction, I am a believer in the reformist power of the photographic image. I like to think that my work will help us reflect upon domestic relationships, which are not natural but social and historical, and realise the need for change”.

Please select an entry time

  • June 11, 2017 - September 18, 2017
    8:00 am - 5:00 pm
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