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The Elephant in The Room (Women Draw Their World Picture Book)

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Back of the Book These stroies and styles in this anthology are as varied as the spices that make up a curry . A curry made of tear and hair, menstrual blood and sectets , bitter arguments and sweet memories , dogs,cats and babies , moons and stars. Some are tasty , some are medicinal, some are magical. All are vivid." About the Book Feminist artists have always been bold, original and outspoken, and The Elephant in the Room honors this legacy and offers up a delightfully tho...
Back of the Book

These stroies and styles in this anthology are as varied as the spices that make up a curry . A curry made of tear and hair, menstrual blood and sectets , bitter arguments and sweet memories , dogs,cats and babies , moons and stars. Some are tasty , some are medicinal, some are magical. All are vivid."

About the Book

Feminist artists have always been bold, original and outspoken, and The Elephant in the Room honors this legacy and offers up a delightfully thought-provoking, myth-busting visual feast. Across its pages, sixteen comic artists from India and Germany explore how women see the world and themselves, taking apart and repurposing ideas of identity, power and love; sex, family, and bodies.

Confronting the elephant with humor and passion, these graphic artists insistently draw the awkward and the difficult. As feminist art has always done, this book reminds us that the personal is political. Exploring taboos, exploding myths, raising awkward questions and posing visionary answers, each story shines a light on the elephant in the room — what does it mean to be a woman?

Spring is a collective of women artists founded in Hamburg, Germany in 2004. The collective brings out an anthology series which contains an unusual combination of comics, illustration and free drawing. Spring is independent and non-commercial.


Why do so many of us still fret about our secret hair? Our never-to-be-born babies? Our grandmother's opinions? The size of our bums? WHY are so many of us defined by our shapes and our body parts, rather than the worlds we build through our knowledge, experience and talent? WHY are so many of us crushed by social pressure until we ourselves no longer believe in ourselves?

The answer is: elephants. Not real elephants, of course, but the giant, unexamined and unmentionable issues that deform—and sometimes augment—the dreams of so many girls and women. There have always been highly acclaimed women illustrators amongst us. Beatrix Potter comes to mind. Claire Bretecher in France. Japan's comic industry is maintained by armies of women artists. Yet it was really only when Marjane Satrapi published her graphic memoir Persepolis in 2000, that a giant portal was punched open for many other women artists to flood through.

Publishers began to consider the possibility that women represented a market opportunity. And then—hallelujah! The Internet! The World Wide Web combined with easy-to-use graphic software and fingertip-friendly electronic screens really brought the revolution home to girls and young women. Alison Bechdel in the US and Amruta Patil in India have built their success on the foundation of their highly refined artistic sensibilities. But it's the unschooled techniques of thousands of amateur cartoonists exploring the digiverse on their tablets and iPhones which truly revolutionized the visual landscape.

In Drawing the Line, Zubaan's previous collection of graphic narratives, that freedom from artistic and stylistic constraint came through in stories drawn and written by young urban Indian women. In this fresh collection the focus has shifted to... elephants. Indian as well as European. The book came into being when a group of German and Indian artist-authors travelled to Nrityagram, in Karnataka, India to spend time thinking, writing, drawing and sharing across the cultural spectrum to capture the experience of being women.

The resulting stories and styles are as varied as the spices that make up a curry. A curry made of tears and hair, menstrual blood and secrets, bitter arguments and sweet memories, dogs, cats and babies, moons and stars. Some are tasty, some are medicinal, and some are magical. All are vivid. Go on then. Go see the elephants.


In 2016, a group of German cartoonists met with eight Indian colleagues in Nrityagram, Bangalore, to create this book. It all started two years earlier when the Goethe-Institut New Delhi and Zubaan organized a workshop for Indian women cartoonists led by Larissa Bertonasco, Ludmilla Bartscht and Priya Kuriyan. This resulted in a book, drawing the Line, published by Zubaan in India. Larissa was so enthusiastic about the intercultural collaboration; she developed a joint volume of SPRING with all of the participants collaborating on an egalitarian basis in the spirit of direct democracy as the group had always done. The result is the book you now hold in your hands.

We lived together at a place for writers' residencies around 30 kilometers from Bangalore. The building is on the site of Nrityagram, a school for classical Indian dance. The huge property felt like paradise: different buildings scattered around the complex like in a village with gardens in between where fruit and vegetables were grown.

Our time together consisted of intense interaction, with discussions among the entire group or in smaller groups. The two resident dogs, Guru and Swami, liked to visit us, and took their naps next to us in the shade, where it was a pleasant 30°C. Each woman drew her story and presented it to the group, resulting in lively discussions. Every morning, we worked on our drawings together, and a small library for comics provided considerable inspiration.

Our first working title was Role Models—which in addition to its literal meaning in English also convey the meaning of "setting a pattern." We wanted to make conscious reference to our roles as women in our respective societies as the idea was to juxtapose Indian and German women's experiences. Our final title, The Elephant in the Room, is an expression that describes an important and obvious fact that no one wants to talk about as it is considered uncomfortable.

While women in Germany seem to live relatively self-determined lives with many possibilities, in a non-homogeneous country like India things are a little more complex. India is a nation of paradoxes and women-in India today reflects that paradox. Rapid econorr-changes have had a profound impact on womens' roles in Indian society. Social relations change, love marriages gain acceptance, women pursue careers in business, politics or cultural affairs—the women's movement is generally strong. But this does not apply everywhere or for everyone in India. Sexual violence, domestic violence, rape and female feticide continue to be huge problems. Deeply entrenched inequities of caste and class add to the complexities of conversations around gender and choices for women in India.

What has changed over the past few years though, is that conversations around gender and violence against women —which are often lead by young women of diverse cultural backgrounds and faiths—are no longer easily brushed under the carpet.

The differences of our living environment filled whole evenings of lively discussions, but it showed also how much we have in common that matters to us and connects us. The question of our identity as female artists and the relationship between freedom and responsibility was more relevant in our discussions than ever before. On the last evening before we headed home, we lay on the stone floor of the amphitheatre in which the heat of the day could still be felt, and warmed our backs. We gazed up at the moonlit sky, and watched the clouds as their shapes shifted. The texture that could be seen on the surface of the moon appeared twisted, somehow different from the familiar view from Europe.


Foreword 5
Editiorial 6
Some Questions 9
Otherly Urges 23
What's Wrong with me ? 34
Weekend Mum A Hairy Question  
Motherhood 35
Temples 37
Bum Power 49
Looking up 61
Bitch 75
Desire 90
Whose Bra is it Anyway? 91
Rirst Love Bra Mythology 92
Sometimes 93
Juicy Lucy 95
MY secret Crop 115
The Hungry Guest 128
Lucky Nina 129
For the Sake of 131
Daughters 142
The Man I love new Dads bugaboo taskforce 159
Penis issues 160
Tiny Penis 161
An Ideal Boyfriend 163
Trapped 179
Darko Windows Sleep 192
A lack of independenve? 196
Freedom bersus Security 197
Ebony & lvory 199
Contributors 222
Imprint 224

Sample Pages

Item Code: NAP585 Cover: Paperback Publisher: Zubaan Publications ISBN: 9789385932243 Language: English Size: 9.5 inch X 8.5 inch Pages: 224 Other Details: Weight of the Book: 530 gms
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