I have been looking into art and activism with a focus on feminism and art. We cannot deny that the most powerful weapon for feminism to transmit the message was and still is art. How some people associate art and females is simply because they feature in it a lot as models. Men were the ones who mostly painted women however in objectifying way and very often misinterpreting them. Let’s however focus on how women fought against that type of mistreatment using the same weapon that was used against them which is art.
Yoko Ono “Cut piece”
This act was loudly protesting violence against women and it was the first of its kind to cry out for women’s rights.
The Feminist art movement
Mierle Laderman Ukeles was an artist who challenged domestic roles of women. In 1969 she performed in an art gallery by cleaning it. This was done as part of her Maintenance Art Manifesto. For those interested you can find it following the link below.
It was the time when the second-wave feminism kicked in, and women’s art was ready to finally get the attention it deserved.
Art started to become even more powerful medium which women would use to express their point of view on political and social issues, to describe their female life, how their experience things by being a female and also to show their body’s in a different light as the owner of it they knew it best. The aim of all this was to make a change to the way female artists are looked at. Since they weren’t allowed to exhibit in museums and galleries they had to do their own.
Judy Chicago organised “Womanhouse” which was a collaborative feminist art exhibition that developed into a feminist studio space and promoted the concept of collaborative women’s art. Chicago also taught first women’s art class in 1970. Her biggest and most iconic creation was “The Dinner Party” an important icon of 1970s feminist art. It represents a triangular table consisting of thirty-nine place settings each honouring an important woman from history. You can see that piece and many more following the link below. It kind of reminds me of Sisters Uncut’s colouring book where each page contains a quote from a famous feminist in order to honour their memory.
Even though the position of female artists in the industry has improved it still was not good enough to get equal exposure within cultural institutions. This group of female artists took on a challenge to expose the facts and figures to the public. This exhibition from last year at Whitechapel that I attended represents the figures from around the world.
As a female I understand that world is still full of injustice and even though many females fought for our rights, even the basic ones like right to vote, we still are facing a lot of prejudice, disrespect and even hate. Art industry is just like any other work industry where females have to fight for their right for equal pay, being respected and appreciated for the work they do. We are however more lucky than the others as we are in possession of a very powerful weapon which is art itself. We are visual people who can influence audience by our images and how we want to use it it is up to us. If we can make positive changes to this world why not take advantage of that?
This blog was mainly a lesson for me and time to reflect on how I can use the power of image and text to explain, commemorate and evoke all of the research about domestic violence and cuts to domestic violence services, that I have done so far.