“Feminist Memory…But Make It Fashion!”

tumblr_ov2hxaQDst1sj4ifqo1_500Taken from Tumblr user Tony the Tiger…it was too good not to post

Cara Licastro: 500650562

Last night, we attended the final event for the of the ARTivism Lab Speakers Series: Laboratory of Feminist Memory Bar. Out of all of the events we attended, this was by far my favourite. It was so lively, fun, and broadened my horizons on fascinating, feminist artworks and the women (in this case) who created them. It was great to see some examples of feminist artworks and second-wave archival pieces brought to life by the many speakers at the event last night.

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Photo from the Glad Day Bookshop Bar

I went in not knowing what to expect; I was thinking it was going to be structured along the lines of an installation event, where people would walk around to different “stations” and talk to different feminist artists about their work. I was pleasantly surprised by what I experienced because even though it was a complete 180 on what I imagined, it was still an amazing experience.

Going into the last speaker series, I was thinking of some of the ideas Marusya brought up in class about many Canadians not having access to second-wave feminism artifacts. Going back to Marusya’s article Big Affect: The Ephemeral Archive of Second- Wave Feminist Video Collectives in Canada, we know that there is a “significant body of feminist media work is largely unknown and unavailable to the general public, not to mention   students, teachers, activists, curators, and a new generation of feminists,” (7).

This quote made me think about a lot of news and artifacts we’ve missed out on and certain events that have been hidden from us. For example, when Anna Willats was talking in the category of “Things Feminist Activists Wrote/Did When The Were Younger (Part 1)”, she explained the process her and her (then) partner had to go through to have a child. It was a time when queer parenthood was a very rare thing: there was no such thing as insemination clinics and you especially were not allowed to adopt. The process she talked about, having the men bring vial after vial to her and her partner for over a year until it was successful, was a truly captivating story and I would have never known about it if not for this experience.

Additionally, it was nice to see feminist remediation in Grace Lao’s presentation where she repurposed phrases she had heard from people and photos she’d seen from second-wave movements. One of the things I especially liked that she showed the poster about how “women should always be smiling” – I couldn’t count on one hand how many times i’ve been told, especially by a male, that I need to “smile more” and i’ll be “more endearing” with a grin. Just thinking of these comments make me roll my eyes.

The way the event was set up made me also remember something stated in the movie we watched in class, Sisters In The Struggle. Having “Things Feminist Activists Wrote/Did When The Were Younger (Part 1 & 2)” as well as ending off on Grace Lao’s remediation pieces reminded me of a moment in the movie where the women discussed the Black Lives Matter movement as their daughters. Showcasing strong women talking about the process they went through when battling second wave feminism (e.g., Lois Fine sharing a song she performed during the first pride parade) and Lao taking pieces and events from the past and showing them again was a nice way for me to tie all of these moments together.

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Lois Fine singing a protest song

This event tied in everything I’d learned in the class and brought it to life, which was an amazing way to end the course!

Citations:
Marusya Bociurkiw. “Big Affect: The Ephemeral Archive of Second-Wave Feminist Video Collectives in Canada.” Camera Obscura, 2006, vol. 31, no. 3, pp 5-12.

Dionne Brand & Ginny Stikeman. “Sisters in the Struggle”. NFB, 1991. https://www.nfb.ca/film/sisters_in_the_struggle/

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Feminist Memory Lab : A Memoir

Kevin Oh

Student Number: 500610532

*I was inspired from the event to share the type of art that I do through this blog. Creative writing 🙂

I don’t do well in crowds especially in closed spaces. But I managed to talk myself into attending the last event of the ARTivism Lab series and I wanted to show up to support other feminists as well. Also I didn’t want to be an awful student.

“Now shuffle the cards” The tarot card reader told me in a sweet gentle voice.

I take a full sip of my gin & tonic that I ordered the moment I got to the event and immediately I felt my anxiety quiet down.

“Don’t be nervous” She said as she waited for me to grab the deck of cards.

I smiled and started fumbling with the deck of cards until I found a way to just jumble them up without looking awkward. I accidentally dropped them and they scattered all over the table.

“I’m sorry!”

“It’s perfect, I was going to ask you to spread them across the table anyways” she smiled and advised me to pick three cards. She goes on to tell me that her practice doesn’t predict the future but that she reads them based on the current moment and that every card read is open up to personal interpretation.

Well thats what I thought I heard because I was too busy trying to match her gaze and look like a totally normal functioning human being that doesn’t mind prolonged eye contact.

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Death. Page of Cups. Six of Cups.

Those were the three cards that I’ve chosen.

I’ll be honest I forgot her own interpretation of the cards but long story short i’ll be ok if I don’t repeat the same mistakes from the past.

Oh how if only life were that easy.

I thanked her for her cheerful disposition throughout the reading. I tipped her because anyone willing to sit with me sober and talk about my problems is a blessing in disguise. I walked over to the corner of the room where there was more breathing room and I was sitting right next to the actual sound speakers so I could hear everything the speakers were saying.

The poems and films were so moving but Anne Willats personal life story on her struggles on starting a family made me very emotional. Being lesbians it was hard for them to adopt because of all the backwards stigmas against them as well. They did end up finding a sperm donor and after what seemed like forever they finally were able to conceive their own child. To know that after what they had to go through and yet still persevere through it all to start a loving family was so inspiring to me.

It really gave me hope for my own future family.

Someday.

Maybe.

Maybe I should learn how to drive first, I mean what kind of soccer mom takes a uber to drop their kids off?

The night moves on and the film “Lessons in Baby Dyke Theory” by Thirza Cuthand gets introduced. It was a very fun satire approach to teenage lesbian loneliness. She mentions before she showed the film that there was no sex education for lesbians back then and that immediately called out my own ignorance and privilege. I didn’t think about the Canadian sex education curriculums at all until I took this course and now it’s something I want to advocate and educate others on.

Overall I forgot about the crowd and admired and appreciated the art/projects by the strong, leading feminists of our time.

I down whatever drink I had left and made a promise to myself to take a feminist approach to everything that I do, all while ordering an uber home.

A Feminist Memory Bar in the Heart of Toronto

Layla Shioguchi #500 643 103

Entering the Glad Day bookstore, I had no idea what to expect from this final ARTivism Lab Speaker Series called Memory Bar. It featured a series of inspiring feminist speakers, all involved in feminist archival work, activist movements and past tales of struggle as a feminist in their personal lives.

There was a warmth to the atmosphere that enveloped the room. For a room packed with people, it gave a welcoming and accepting feeling as if your presence mattered. I was amazed by the number of people who came out to hear these wonderful speakers talk of their works and struggles throughout their personal life or professional careers. The ARTivism Lab Speaker Series has been able to create a safe space for individuals to speak their mind and has been able to bring people with all sorts of perspectives and interesting stories that others can learn from. Some memorable speakers of the night included Anna Willat’s tale of having a child as a lesbian couple during the 80’s when lesbians were not allowed to adopt or get inseminated, Thirza Cuthand’s short film Lessons on Baby Dyke Theory a tale of a teenage girl finding lesbians to relate to in 1995, and Meg Mackay’s personal story of coming out to her mother.

Prior to taking this class, I saw myself as a feminist but was not involved in a movement or was knowledgeable on the topic. It is a word that is often thrown around in my day to day life, sometimes attached with a negative connotation. After taking this course and having met and becoming introduced to feminist historical archival works as well as more recent works, I feel more confident in calling myself a feminist. To call myself a feminist means to stand or equal participation to end discrimination like sexism and racism, for myself and my other sisters. An introduction to the NFB short film, Sisters in the Struggle struck a chord in me since I first heard it, “If not for in our lifetime, then in sister’s lifetime or my children’s lifetime,” (1). It made me realize that my actions are part of a much bigger picture, and the privileged life I live today is the result of the hardships that my past sisters have gone through. As mentioned by Marusya Bociurkiw in Big Affect: The Ephemeral Archive of Second-Wave Feminist Video Collectives in Canada, there is a significant body of feminist media work is largely unknown and unavailable to the general public (2) and I hope to delve into more works in the coming future. I am part of the bigger picture, to create equality for my sisters around the world, and I aim in my lifetime to create some meaningful impact that would help to ease any problems that they make face today. For this realization, I am incredibly thankful of this class. It is an invaluable lesson that I will carry on with me into the future.

 

 

Sources Referenced:

(1) Marusya Bociurkiw. “Big Affect: The Ephemeral Archive of Second-Wave Feminist Video Collectives in Canada.” Camera Obscura, 2006, vol. 31, no. 3, pp 5-12.

(2) Dionne Brand & Ginny Stikeman. “Sisters in the Struggle”. NFB, 1991. https://www.nfb.ca/film/sisters_in_the_struggle/

 

Power to the p̶e̶o̶p̶l̶e̶ women

Michael Italiano – 500714232 

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The Laboratory of Feminist Memory Bar at Glad Day Bookshop was the final instalment of the year for the Artivism Lab Speaker Series. Walking to the event, I wasn’t sure what to expect; a place that I’ve never been, in an unknown neighbourhood, full to the brim with many strangers and familiar people alike. However, the event was a fun and light-hearted environment with much informative and broadly diverse feminist content. As an in-person feminist archive, the event served to draw attention to both old and new forms of feminist media ranging anywhere from poems and music to video art projects.

The host Meg Mackay was very energetic and helped get the party started with her own  touching personal coming out story. Some of the work presented included an excerpt from Midi Onodera’s 1985 film Ten Cents a Dance (Parallax), Zainub Verjee’s Three Watermelons One Hand, Anna Willat’s talk of her experiences with lesbian pregnancy, Kativa Dogra’s poem regarding young marriages in India, Thirza Cuthand’s 1995 Lesbians in Baby Dyke Theory film (which by the way is hilarious), and the list goes on and on of the many wonderful and informative projects including even one from a group of our classmates, as well as Marusya herself! 

Screen Shot 2018-04-12 at 1.24.51 PM.pngSpeaking of Marusya, her paper “Big Effect: The Ephemeral Archive of Second-Wave Feminist Video Collectives in Canada” is a great reflection on the space of this event in itself; a bookstore. A collection of temporal objects in a space for access and consumption – an archive. Marusya explains how a “significant body of feminist media work is largely unknown and unavailable to the general public, not to mention students, teachers, activists, curators, and a new generation of feminists,” (Bociurkiw, 7). I feel that hosting the event in a bookstore/café hybrid is in a way a remediation of the archive itself, bringing discussion and information together into one as a means to spreading awareness. Allowing access to this otherwise unknown/unavailable media in a public space is very opportunistic and (as seen last night) a huge hit! If only I had the chance to make my way to the tarot reading table…

Marusya Bociurkiw. “Big Affect: The Ephemeral Archive of Second-Wave Feminist Video Collectives in Canada.” Camera Obscura, 2006, vol. 31, no. 3, pp 5-12.

Celebrating and Making Space for People

Kate Carter (500765809)

The Laboratory of Feminist Memory Bar held by the ARTivism Lab as part of their Speaker Series took place last night at the Glad Day Bookshop, the world’s oldest LGBTQ bookstore.

A presentation that I thought about a lot was one that was met with a hush over the room, by Kativa Dogra. Hopelessness in the world, is often met with discomfort or is treated as pessimistic, and maybe it is, but the more we dramatize talking about how terrible the world can be, the less people will want to talk about it. We talked about how important it is to become comfortable with death but why not become comfortable with the fact that there is evil and negativity in the world? Comfort is not to be okay with it, to accept it as something that will never change, but it is to understand how much worse things are and how little many of us do to help. If anything, understanding what others endure should allow us to practice more gratitude and empathy. Life is hard, and yes, other people dealing with worse does not make your pain any less valid but gratitude and empathy are so important. Taboo or negative topics should not be pushed aside because they put a damper on things, sometimes things are sad and that is a fact that can and should be discussed without depressing the atmosphere. Disregarding progress can also be a problem, as it disregards the work and time and suffering of people who have fought for their and many others’ rights leading up to today. Such celebration of progress that took place last night is so important and is such a beautiful thing, both remembering tragedies and challenges faced by LGBTQ+ folks and celebrating the beauty of LGBTQ+ culture and identities. Having public access to this event was also important, art is education and education can often be reduced to what is selected as part of curriculum, which is often heteronormative (Petrik). A point that I found really important that was emphasized throughout the event was the heteronormativity of our society and how it is so deeply harmful, keeping children from learning something as crucial as safe sex, leaving students with no knowledge on how to safely have non-heterosexual sex or leaving LGBTQ+ couples with little to no options for starting a family. It is no surprise sadly, but to have these platforms presented for underrepresented people to speak and share their experiences is so important, things that many cisgendered people do not consider or know about but make a prominent difference and play a detrimental role in the everyday lives of many LGBTQ+ folks. Selfishness is the reason why those men in our peers’ video could not speak to women’s experience and the same reason why I cannot speak to other marginalized people’s identities. Thinking about this really made me wonder how valid my anger and frustration is toward men who choose not to educate themselves on women while I essentially choose not to sufficiently educate myself on the experiences of others. So, I suppose the lesson I learned from this event is to never stop listening, never stop learning, and keep celebrating people!

Petrik, Jeannette. “Education is always about the future: An Interview with Tania Bruguera.” Temporary, http://temporaryartreview.com/education-is-always-about-the-future-an- interview-with-tania-bruguera/. Accessed 11 April 2018.

The Laboratory of Feminist Memory Bar @ Glad Day

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This last installation of the Artivism Lecture Series focussed on feminist issues through the presentation of several different mediums of art. This included short films, poetry, personal storytelling and even music. This event was by far my favourite of the three. As it took place at the Glad Day bookstore, the style of this particular event was a lot more laid back and inclusive. The public was able to walk in to the café and see what was going on inside and instead of focussing solely on who was presenting, audience members were able to mingle as well as get their tarot cards read. My experience with this was very positive. I have never participated in anything like this so I had a very open mind when starting.

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to everyone’s stories and appreciated their art. The story told by Anna Willats as part of the “Things Feminist Activists Wrote (or did) When They Were Younger” second was especially astonishing. Hearing about her struggle to have a child as a same sex couple was particularly interesting and brought me joy to hear that she is now a grandmother alongside many others. Along with this, I was very unaware of the laws put in place against homosexual activity, which made the lives of these individuals so much more difficult. Presenting our feminist remediation project: Curfew for Men, was very gratifying. At first I was a bit nervous as everyone who presented previously were so accomplished, but the response from the crowd was truly fulfilling. I had an amazing experience working with this group of girls, so seeing first hand that our work and efforts paid off made us very happy.

In regards to the tarot card reading, I kept a very open mind throughout the process. The reader informed me that her practice does not predict your future and is very different from fortune telling. The cards have several meanings that can be interpreted differently depending on how they relate to you personally. The outcome could also be things one already knows about themselves and she also clarified that you can do what you will with the results. Overall, the woman was very accurate in her predictions. She told me that I am very passionate about an opportunity I have just received. This is referring to the internship I was just hired for in a field I have always seen myself working in, therefore, the cards were very precise. It was also very comforting to hear that I will be successful in this and that I am now able to focus my efforts on other things in my life. In all, my experience attending this last portion of the speaker series was very positive. If an event like this were to occur again I would love to attend again and would highly recommend to others.

Jenna Wilhelmsen (500678372)

 

People Celebrating Things Women Do (or Did)

11 April 2018

Written By: Melissa Fernandes (500759489)

I never really defined myself as a feminist before this year. It seems kind of bizarre thinking about that I wasn’t rooting for my own team. The idea of the man-hating, angry feminist was not an image that I identified with, but from discussing feminism in such an open way in this class made me realize that feminism is about sharing stories and voices that are often overlooked and underrepresented. It is also to be confident in the choices you make and being unapologetically yourself. Last night’s event at Glad Day Book Shop had me in awe at the multitude of mediums and stories shared by fellow women.

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Never had I ever been to an event where I was immersed in such provocative feminist stories. The idea that all these different forms of media, even the low budget pieces were able to communicate the complex and deep ideas about living queer was inspiring to watch.

I was opened to the idea of different types of feminism and a quote from Saba Mahmood really resonated with me and that is: “Not all women, not all people desire the same thing.” We all have our struggles and as people it is understanding that the cause that you’re fighting for is important but maybe not to everyone’s idea of an ideal life. In one of the films we watched in class Sisters in the Struggle, I was reminded of the ways feminism is embodied by different groups. There are different ideas of the ‘good life’ and that there exists inequality even amongst women; women of colour, women who identity as a part of the LGBTQ+ community, and the intersectionality between these groups that produce unfair circumstances.

I was really inspired by the work of Kativa Dogra, particularly when she was talking about the work that she does is just the minimum. She believes that what she is doing is what everyone should be doing, and that people should get angry and disheartened by the injustices in the world. I sometimes feel numb to hearing stories o the news because we are bombarded with sadness; the shock effect has worn off. I think that what she was saying about simply retweeting an activist is important, but we need to remember that that is barely one step towards creating social change. Social media and social justice media can only do so much. The idea of eliciting “moral shock” in people to move them to act is interesting but what is needed in the stories seen online is a critical perspective that challenges the audience to question the state of the world we live in and dream of a better one (Bociurkiw).

“Privilege is when you think something is not a problem because its not a problem to you personally.” I am thankful to be able to call myself a feminist and hope to see a world that creates spaces for conversations that people are afraid to have and supports people to be unapologetically themselves.

 

Sources Referenced

Bociurkiw, Marusya. “Big Affect: The Ephemeral Archive of Second-Wave Feminist Video Collectives in Canada.” Camera Obscura, vol. 31, no. 3, pp 5-12.