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Arts Fest organised by Aware to raise awareness on violence against women

Published on Dec 8, 2013 9:01 PM

Staring blankly ahead, the two girls were silent as strangers touched their hair, painted their lips and stained their cheeks. Twenty minutes later, one was "prettified" with a scarf tied around her neck, while the other had a bright red Joker grin extending beyond her lips and facial hair drawn on with an eyebrow pencil.

But instead of being victims of bullying, both women were doing the opposite - raising awareness of how impossible standards of beauty are often internalised by society and inflicted on women - through the performance art piece.

Spearheaded by the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware), the "Pretty Ugly" exhibit was part of the one-day arts fest held at the Aliwal Arts Centre on Sunday. Called Break the Silence, it hopes to create awareness and a deeper understanding of issues relating to violence against women.

Other exhibits include "Mirror Mirror", a visual art installation of more than 30 mirrors that encouraged visitors to scrawl on a larger mirror negative labels they had received, such as "thick" or "scrawny". They were then encouraged to erase what others had written on it as an act of solidarity and a symbolic act of rejecting these labels.

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