Party Office Retroflective Diary: Part 1

Vidisha-Fadescha and Shaunak Mahbubani, curators of Party Office at documenta fifteen recall the rollercoaster of energies, events, and emotions over the 100 days, spotlighting discrete milestones through a process of writing in the reflection of these luminous moments.

Party Office, founded by Vidisha-Fadescha, is an anticaste, antiracist, trans*feminist art and social space initiated in New Delhi, India, also manifesting at satellite locations and as conceptual architecture. Through publications, grants, radical archives, conversations of life lived, social gatherings, parties and more, Party Office is building transnational dialogues on empathetic futures, care communities and radical agency.

Party Office b2b Fadescha, 2022, installation view, WH22, Kassel, June 15, 2022, photo: Nils Klinger

In the cellar of WH22 at documenta fifteen, Party Office created a multiform space featuring a reading room, dancefloor, and queer dungeon. Here, we hosted several ProBSDM* parties under the name HyperVigilant, that centered the joy of Trans*, BIPoC and people with disabilities. We know from direct experience that for the divergent, there is always additional work of managing effects of systemic violence and trauma, accounted for and held within the bodies of those most impacted. This does not dissolve at the door. Our party insists on acknowledging and minimizing the exhaustion that comes with negotiating dancefloor euphoria against aggressions by ableist cis-heteronormativity. The following diary entries take us back to some pivotal moments that shaped the nature of our parties during documenta fifteen.

Entry #1: 18.06.2021
No Place for White Tears

Many from the documenta team were unsure, and surprised, about our idea for radical exclusivity to be implemented at the door of our parties. “Why not a policy of inclusion?” is a question we were often asked and pushed to enact. The atmosphere created by the ensuing open door policy on Wednesday evening, the first of the three preview days, proved our point. Cis white men were rude to the hosts at the door and the bar, repeatedly invaded personal space, and did not make an effort to understand the ethos of the site. The Party Office team was stretched thin trying to ensure the safety of other guests. 

We are not interested in creating a “club.” We are creating a space where QT*BIPoC bodies feel comfortable to pursue kinship, rest, and pleasure, and those who force us to remain HyperVigilant are not welcome. 

On Thursday, we announced our original policy and led its implementation from the front. Cis white men would only be granted entry if a Black, brown, trans* person or woman vouched for their respectful behavior during the party. All identities were based on self-identification – with the necessary exception of those whose clear intention was mockery of our ethos, like on Thursday, when a white male passing person pointedly exclaimed they were a Black woman for the day. 

Party Office b2b Fadescha, 2022, installation view, WH22, Kassel, June 15, 2022, photo: Nils Klinger

The shift in the energy of the dungeon has been palpable. The previous evening, on Friday, we really got into our stride. We were able to keep smiling while informing self-proclaimed-big-collectors that this was not the right space for them. The entitlement, rage and derision flowed fast. A friend standing close by exclaimed, this was the best performance of the whole exhibition. But this was not a performance but a small display of the immense energy we as trans people of colour expend to get a modicum of safety. Last night, it felt like we are finally getting the space we have been envisioning, space for our bodies to move freely, space to play without prying eyes, space to rest without unwelcome hands. 

No space is absolutely safe. A space can only be safer than others. There were and there will be untoward incidents, each one makes us and our team more aware of how to hold this environment together. We all set the vibe of the party, including those attending. Safety is not an individual goal, it is and must be a collective effort.

Entry #2: 16.07.2021
So Much More Dance Left

We believe in partying as a form of celebrating, grieving, and dreaming together. But after three organizers of Party Office were attacked on the streets of Kassel we publicly announced the cancellation of all our parties and programs. On 2nd July, six cis white men made lewd gestures, ran after, threw footwear at, spat on, and threatened to beat up our group in a vile display of transphobia. The violence was furthered when the police handcuffed one of us, and retained all three of us for 45 minutes after they had let the six men go. 

Without any real support from the mega institution responsible for our wellbeing, and with serious concerns for our own safety, how could we host any of our invited collaborators? 

“We Miss Party Offic” sticker campaign in generous solidarity, on the left by the Kassel BPoC collective, and right by Maggie and Dario of microutopias press

This violent incident, coupled with the media onslaught towards the exhibition at large, compounded by antagonism from the top management on both issues has resulted in our enthusiasm for this site being put into jeopardy. Targeted by the constant racist attacks on documenta fifteen, each day we wonder, what will come next? The lumbung needs a pressure release and we have the space for it. One week ago, cautiously, we decided to throw a party after exhibition hours only for lumbung artists and our local ecosystem. We enlisted the friendly security personnel posted outside the door to our venue to allow those with our secret image-invite to enter. 

Party Office b2b Fadescha, 2022, installation view, WH22, Kassel, June 15, 2022, photo: Nils Klinger

It was only in the animated chatter, bass reverb and familiar nooks of our reactivated dungeon that we found ourselves rooted again. Deep into the night on the wooden pew by the restroom, our friend Swazi delivered some hard truths. Swazi is part of the Kassel BPoC Collective – an amazing group of organizers from different backgrounds: Scholars, artists, DJs, and social workers – who have become integral to our presence in Kassel. They have taken on a wide range of kinship roles – regulars, DJs, bar and awareness workers, advocates, and most importantly, solid friends. 

What happened to you was terrible, said Swazi, we’re in full solidarity with you, but what you’ve built here, we need it. We’ve never had a space in Kassel where we feel safe like this. You can’t take it away from us. 

Her words have hit home. What we have managed to create here is not just our own any more, so many of our friends have invested energy and hope into it. This is much larger than us. We can’t stop now, we have so much more dance left. The incompetence of the institution, especially its director, has not been able to bring the lumbung down. So today, as we hear of her (enforced) resignation, we welcome a small victory. Not in the loss of her job, but for the autonomy and value of free artistic voices. We will celebrate in the way we know best, together, with a party.

Secret Party Invite, Party Office b2b Fadescha, 16 July 2022

Vidisha-Fadescha is an artist-curator, they are building conceptual architectures holding lived experiences as a norm-critical pedagogy to Queer hegemonies. Through video, text, sound, and performance, Fadescha’s work focuses on body movement as an archive of multi-generational trauma, the body as the site to center one’s desire, and Party as a site of resilience and affirmative kinships. Party Office b2b Fadescha was a lumbung artist at documenta fifteen, 2022.

Shaunak Mahbubani is a nomadic curator-writer currently working in Berlin and in multiple sites in India. They primarily curate projects under the exhibition series ‘Allies for the Uncertain Futures,’ focused on exploring possibilities of co-visioning futures grounded in the pursuit of non-duality. The fourth iteration in this series, AUTOPOIESIS (2022-23) has manifestations and cross-pollinations across Mexico City, Guatemala City, New Delhi, Kassel and Berlin. Shaunak is also co-organizer of After Party Collective with Vidisha-Fadescha, and was invited to co-curate the Party Office space at documenta fifteen. See more of their work at

What did you learn at documenta 15? is an open-ended issue edited by Dóra Hegyi, editor of Mezosfera, curator, and project leader of Budapest and Gyula Muskovics, independent curator and artist based in Budapest. If you would like to contribute, please submit your proposal, including a 200-word abstract and your short bio in English at

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