The Goethe-Institut in partnership with HerStory Foundation hosted a pop-up of the Sister Library; a travelling feminist library where one hundred books were available for reading at the pop-up, which ended with a 'Zine With Us' workshop with indigenous artist Aqui Thami at the Institut’s library from February 12 - 15.
During this time several interventions took place. The Sister Library, based in Bombay, is the first community-run feminist library in South-Asia. The visiting collection comprised of 100 books written by women from Nepal, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
“The Sister Library is a safe space to celebrate women and be your true self, you are not asked to sit in a certain way or behave in a certain way. We read one of the most important works that have come from South Asia. It has shaped the feminist movement in the region and world over. It’s really special to read it in a community in Bangladesh, it is very different to reading alone as it is always nice to come together and talk it over. It was such a special moment,” said Aqui Thami.
To host the visiting books, the Goethe-Institut transformed one of the library shelves into a local chapter of the signature fluorescent pink of Sister Library. On February 12, Aqui Thami led a collective reading of the iconic sci-fi short story by Rokeya Shakawat Hosein, ‘Sultana’s Dream’.
“What is more important than imagining what ‘Sultana’s Dream’ would be like today, is realizing the dream of 1905. Women are still suffering injustice, there is rape, and female infanticide. There is a lot of work to be done,” added Aqui Thami.
On February 14 the Sister Library hosted a bi-lingual reading of Neelima Ibrahim’s ‘A War Heroine’, ‘I Speak on the pink carpet’ of the library. A small group of visitors read from the birangona testimonies collected by the activist and shared their reflections on the text.
A zinemaking workshop was held on Saturday, 15 February during which participants were instructed to collectively create a zine. A zine is a hand-made, self-published, self-distributed publication which questions the status quo.
The topic of the zine created was ‘Silencing Female Voices in Bangladesh’. Once participants created their contributions, they were collected, copied and handed-out to the zine-makers.