What are you waiting for?

Published: May 13, 2019, 07:02 IST | Dalreen Ramos

A collective of South Asian women will present an anthology that explores the idea of the bystander through comic and graphic narratives for both print and web

What are you waiting for?
Kadak Collective has started a fundraising campaign for the Bystander anthology

Regardless of its formal definition in sociology or psychology, the term ‘bystander’ forces us to introspect. The dictionary places it in a certain context. “A person who is present at an event or incident but does not take part,” it reads. But we’ve never questioned the cause of this inaction or thought about it in terms of a process. “There is no real translation for it in South Asian languages, and because of the multitude of identities we have in this small space we call home, every community feels ‘othered’ in some way,” city-based artist Mira F Malhotra tells us.

Part of the Kadak collective, a group of South Asian women who work with graphic storytelling, Malhotra and over 50 contributors across the world are working on a self-published anthology that explores the idea of the bystander.

Zines made by the collective

The publication, titled Bystander, is scheduled to release in January 2020 in print and web formats, and the collective has already set up crowdfunding on Kickstarter to raise $54,595. “Floating it on the platform was a deliberate decision. We wanted to include more persons, but also pay creatives for their work. And crowdfunding is a great way to keep control of the vision and fund it. This is likely the first time a project of this sort has been conceived,” Malhotra says, adding that this is not an easy project to pull off. “Coordination is quite a task. Making sure we are as inclusive, fair and diverse is a challenge. Presenting a lopsided view of South Asia would never be our intention. Our own balancing act with our day jobs is stressful. Time zones are also to be taken into account,” she explains.

With contributors working from 13 countries — the US, Canada, and UK to India, Pakistan and Australia — representing a range of South Asian voices that are largely women, non-binary and queer, Kadak is also planning on executing workshops on ground.

And there’s something for everyone who contributes towards the Kickstarter campaign that ends on June 17, from a cup of chai to postcards and zines. But even if one can’t contribute money, Malhotra encourages people to spread the word around — and there’s always social media. She shares, “There has been a good response from the subcontinent already, so we are positive!”

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