Still I Rise is a timely exhibition celebrating feminism, gender and resistance, all of which are very prominent in today’s evolving society.
Wandering round the exhibition, I was able to see and explore the role that women have played in the history of resistance movements and alternative forms of living. I was surprised by the amount of work on display: over 100 exhibits by some 40 practitioners. It is not just artists work on display, but also pieces from writers, architects, designers, activists, working as individuals or in groups. I was very interested to see the way in which resistance has been approached from multiple angles.
I like the fact that the exhibition existed within a global context, referring to recent women-led uprisings and demonstrations, including mass protests in Argentina confronting violence against women: ‘Ni Una Menos’, the global Women’s Strike initiated in the US, as well as the pivotal role women played in the formation of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Over the summer I did some work looking at the key dominating features that define each decade and therefore I had looked at key historic moments including the Civil Rights Movement which was also referenced.
It was also great to see that at the core of Still I Rise was the idea of collaboration, community building and egalitarianism. I really feel that they have created a space for participation and a platform for multiple voices.
One of my favourite pieces was, ‘My Feminine Lineage of Environmental Struggle’, 2018, by Carolina Caycedo. I loved the intricate illustrations of the female environmentalists; it is almost a memorial of respect to those whom have been murdered, threatened or criminalised for their actions.
The series of photographs by Judy Chicago, 1972, also stood out to me as being openly female-centred art. Emotions are portrayed through colour and the smoke almost provides a liberation from formal structure, while the colour feminises and softens the environment. The smoke also could show that women’s art and women’s history is no longer immolated.
Other works on display included:
A DANCE: ‘NOT WOMEN IS AN ISLAND’: exploring different kinds of space, from the built environment to the commons – a more harmonious nurturing relationship with the land and its resources.
A CALL: MAKING OUR VOICES HEARD: highlighting the impact of protesting bodies gathered in public spaces.
A SPELL: ‘FEMINISM BEYOND HUMANISM’: finding value in overlooked forms of knowledge, communication and change-making. Redefining gender outside the usual restraints of ‘man’ and ‘women’.
The atmosphere was extremely positive with a like-minded buzz rotating around the space. There seemed to be a silent acceptance and mutual respect for the work and subject matter on display.
At the entrance, visitors are invited to build their own version of the accompanying publication, reflecting a history of self-publishing as a form of resistance:
2018 marks 100 years since some women got the right to vote. What are your hopes for women a 100 years from now?
Unity and self-appreciation? Freedom and equality? 50:50 women in politics and in senior job roles? True happiness?
Pick a word from the glossary. What does it mean to you?
‘Women’ – this shows me that women are not an extension of men, but their own free separate identities. It also sheds light on the prejudice, discrimination and institutional barriers women have faced.