Laboratory of Feminist Memory Bar

By Rebecca Watkinson – 500768931

The ARTivism Lab Speaker Series; Laboratory of Feminist Memory Bar 

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On Tuesday April 10th, 2018 the RTA 893 class had the pleasure to experience their last class trip to The ARTivism Lab Speaker Series. This speaker series saw the presenters follow the concept of the Laboratory of Feminist Memory Bar. The event took place at Glad Day Bookshop which was a perfect setting as it is specializes in LGBT literature.

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The event started with the host Meg Mackay telling the story about coming out to her mother. I felt very connected and inspired by her as she is a woman of mixed race. She explained that she is half Indigenous on her mothers side but did not elaborate on her fathers side. It was just a very nice thing to see someone that I was able to relate to in mixed Indigenous race being successful in life. Meg then introduced the first part of the event called Things Feminist Activists wrote (Or DiD) When They Were Younger (Part 1).

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The Activist that I enjoyed the most from this section was Anna Willats. A brief description of Anna in the BlogTO article about her states; “Anna Willats approaches life through her political filter: from the serious, like her 19-year stint working at Toronto’s Rape Crisis Centre, to the social, like dancing in Caribana as a mischief-making Blue Devil, splashing revellers with blue paint” (Toronto Through the Eyes of Anna Willats). Anna told the story of her experience of trying to start a family with her partner when things were very difficult for same sex couples to due so. Anna explained that during the time her and her partner were starting to venture into the process of starting their own family they discovered a program in which they could collect sperm to conceive their child. This process was very extensive as Anna and her then partner had to collect the sperm from the donor and use syringes for insemination. after about 12 months they became pregnant with their first child. This story was such an amazing story as it showcased and put into perspective the struggles same sex couples had to endure and may still have to endure.

 

After Anna were many more amazing stories and works created by amazing people. Lessons in Baby Dyke Theory by Thirza Cuthand was an amazing video showcased at this event. The bio of this video from Vimeo explains that; “In 1995 when Thirza Cuthand was 16 she felt like the only lesbian at her Saskatoon high school. This turned out to be untrue, but the lack of visibility in her high school coupled with the lack of representation of Queer teenagers in the 90’s made her make her first video, a comedic short about teenage lesbian loneliness and trying to bribe classmates to come out with the promise of candy” (Lessons in Baby Dyke Theory). This video showcases the feelings that Thirza felt during that point in her life and feeling like she was the only lesbian. This video can and did hit home for a lot of people as some may be able to relate and understand the feelings of being alone and not having anyone to look up to or relate with. below is the Video by Thirza Cuthand.

 

Curfew for Men is the last piece of work I would like to bring to attention. Curfew for Men is a film created by my classmates who had the honour of presenting their work in this event. It was this film was a feminist remediation project they had completed that was built off of the works from feminist who created a fake government policy for men over the age of 13 to participate in a curfew. It was so great to see my peers being able to present their hard work and share in their passion.

 

This was such an amazing event that showcased so many amazing stories and works created by feminists. It was such an honour to participate in this class and learn about something I am very passionate about. A final quote that relates to this whole class and event post that I believe is very fitting to go out on is by Tania Bruguera. she states the following; I’ve seen the short-term and long-term impact of education. I’ve seen how people change, how knowledge changes how they carry themselves. As an artist interested in social change, I vouch for education, 70,000%. I believe that education is the solution to all problems (Education is always about the future: An Interview with Tania Bruguera). I would like to thank my professor Dr. Marusya Bociurkiw and TA Calla for showing up to class and being passionate while teaching us.  As Education is key to understanding the world and community you live in, Marusya and Calla did a great job in inspiring me in continuing my education in this field.

 

 

Works cited

Petrik, Jeannette. “Education Is Always about the Future: An Interview with Tania Bruguera.” Tania Bruguera | Education Is Always about the Future: An Interview with Tania Bruguera, 20 July 2017, http://www.taniabruguera.com/cms/952-0-Education is always about the future An Interview with Tania Bruguera.htm.
“Toronto Through the Eyes of Anna Willats.” BlogTO, 10 Aug. 2009, http://www.blogto.com/people/2009/08/toronto_through_the_eyes_of_anna_willats/.
Vimeo, 11 Apr. 2018, vimeo.com/210502822.

 

Vulva’s are AWESOME

Leah deVries – 500810473 – RTA 893

On a chill evening in April, at the Glad Day Bookshop on Church Street, The Laboratory of Feminist Memory Bar took Place. It featured a series of speakers, all involved in feminist archival work, artivist movements, and inspiring artwork.

What I found so amazing was the speaker’s personal determination to create a message and stand for something so diligently. Midi Onodera used what money she had to pay for reels of film, and had to get everything in one take, because she was so broke, but was determined to create an outspoken short film. Thirza Cuthand discussed her determination to find the other young lesbian women in her community when she was only fourteen years old and used her resources to create a short film for a film festival in Saskatoon. Anna Willats told her personal life story about her involvement with the “gayby boom,” and her determination to start a baby with her life partner in the 80’s. All of these women used their resources and energy to follow what they love, and created something beautiful. The messages and stories were truly inspiring.

It was clear that each of these women faced backlash and turmoil in their lives as gay women. When Midi Onodera discussed the context of her film, it was shocking to hear the number of men arrested for participating in bathhouses; to the point that some men were so miserable they committed suicide. Thirza Cuthand told the crowd that her film was taken by judgmental critiques as a way to entice kids to become gay (and they didn’t even bother to watch the film). Anna Willats discussed how sperm banks were not available to gay women, and achieving the “good stuff,” became a personal endeavour, since it was not tolerated by the community.

Hearing the issues, turmoil and public backlash that gay women experience was shocking and sad to me, however seeing these women stand up for what they love was truly amazing. As Gabriella Ginnachi says in “Archives and Archaeological Sites,” “The personal became the political and the very personal became art” (Ginnachi, 46). This is so relevant to what occurred during The Laboratory of Feminist Memory Bar. Seeing what these women did with their lives and their creativity encourages me to stand up for what I love and make art out of it as well.

It was a great privilege and huge honour to have my group’s work featured with all these amazing artivist’s, and my favourite experience in my entire first year of university here at Ryerson. Thank you to all the women who are brave and strong, and make art despite pain and hardship. You are awesome.

(Poem from, “One Sigh Fits All,” written by Steve Keil, featured in the Glad Day Cafe. Rewritten below if size is too small).

A Friend Came in From out of Town

There’s always another excuse

As to why you’re not doing

What you were born to

Believe me

I know that song so well

I could sing it backwards

Without vowels

For it seems as though

The hardest thing to learn

Is how to inspire yourself

When there are no externals

To make it easy for you

As in the days of youth yore

When every breath was

The best party ever

Because you had never

Been to one

Before

– Steven Keil

Ginnachi, Gabriella. “Archives as Archaeological Sites.” Archive Everything: Mapping the Everyday. https://courses.ryerson.ca/d2l/le/content/173420/viewContent/1850645/View. Date Accessed: 11 April 2018.

 

The Laboratory of Feminist Memory Bar

Danielle Sahadevan (500821278)

The last event of the Speakers Series, Laboratory of Feminist Memory Bar, took place last night at Glad Day Bookshop. I did not know what to expect when this occasion was brought up in class. There was a welcoming and friendly vibe to this bookshop which made this event extra special. Everyone who spoke at this event presented their story, film, or reading in an intriguing way which gave this event different factors of conversations which kept it interesting. I was definitely amused and entertained last night and I am glad that I had to opportunity to attend.

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Glad Day Bookshop

Thirza Cuthand is a filmmaker, performance artist, and writer as stated on their website. The film that they showcased described their difficulty of finding other lesbians within their school environment. I was extremely fascinated by this film because I did not think about the difficulty of finding others of the same sexuality. I have never dealt with this issue personally nor have I witnessed my friends struggle with this. With that being said, I still believe that Cuthand did bring to light a feeling that lot of teens are experiencing right now. Even with the existence of Tinder, Facebook, and other outlets, I believed this film is still relevant to this time. There may be people that I knew or know right now that might be experiencing the same thing as Cuthand did.

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The introduction scene to Thirza Cuthand’s film “Lessons in Baby Dyke Theory”

This film reminded me of a character from the show, “Pretty Little Liars,” named Emily Fields. Emily is a lesbian who at first struggled with coming out to her family. Unlike Cuthand’s film, Emily did not struggle with finding lesbians her age. When I think about it, I do not think she struggle at all with that. She had about seven girlfriends in total in the whole series and in the end, got engaged to her first love. Maybe this character was created this way because the creators did not want Emily to be known as the struggling lesbian … or maybe they enjoyed “queer-baiting”. This is not the only show that has had a LGBTQ+ character not struggle with finding others with the same sexuality their age. Being exposed to shows like such, I never thought about the lesson the Cuthand displayed in their film. Nonetheless, I did learn something new from Cuthand’s film which I thoroughly enjoyed.

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Emily Fields (left) with her fiance (right) and twin babies

This event as a whole reminded me of the reading, “Big Affect: The Ephemeral Archive of Second-Wave Feminist Video Collective in Canada”. There was a line from the reading that stated, “Feminism had become main-streamed; consumer cameras were entering the market, making everyone a potential artist or citizen journalist…” (Bociurkiw, 2016). To me, this line says that feminism in the media is continuing to grow through all different platforms. During this event, the audience was exposed to films, tweets, and other magazine articles. Even when certain social media platforms did not exist, there were still activists who were creating feminism artwork and finding ways to display them.

Overall, I did enjoy the Speaker Series and learned a lot from it. I am thankful to have been exposed to new topics throughout the term. I really wanted to take an RTA course as an elective and did not expect this class to be what it was for me. I am glad that I picked an elective which pushed me to speak about topics that are not introduced in my other classes. This event was a great way to end the class.

Feminist Memory Lab

Last night I attended the Laboratory of Feminist Memory Bar at the Glad Day Bookshop. I was not sure what to expect other than perhaps feminist remediation, or archival feminist art. The event was very much true to its title, and showcased different feminist archives and art pieces, and included many identities.

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One piece that stood out to me the most was a woman who wrote a poem about the issue of women being made to be child brides. This common occurrence is an issue I am very passionate about, because it breaks my heart that a child, who still needs their parents’ comfort is being shipped off to marry a man, without her consent. It reminded me of a passage from the “Big Affect:The Ephemeral Archive of Second-Wave Feminist Video Collectives in Canada” reading by Marusya Bociurkiw, which read “One of the earliest works to emerge from feminist video collectives in Canada focused on the personal affects surrounding marriage. So Where’s My Prince Already (Reelfeelings, Canada, 1974), a video about a woman who does absolutely every- thing, from housework to sex, while wearing her wedding veil is one of the few examples of experimental work emerging from the early collectives. It addresses an era when marriage rates were peaking in Canada and the 1968 Divorce Act had not yet been amended to make it easier for couples to separate.” (Bociurkiw, 10.) The paragraph talks about the problem of marriage in feminism, and how difficult it was to divorce. The archival piece being talked about discusses the difficulty of marriage for women, and how difficult it may have been to divorce at the time, which left many women unhappy and unsatisfied in their marriage. I immediately thought of children being forced to marry when I read it, as today for many Canadian women it is much easier to divorce, or to choose not to marry. I was moved by the poem read out loud at Glad Day Bookshop, and was reminded of why archives are so important to feminism; they remind us of the past feminist movements, and can make us draw connections between then and now.

Many of the artists spoke about important issues to feminism, such as trying to conceive a child in the 80s as a lesbian, during the segment where women spoke about feminist memories they had. It made us all understand the positive changes that have been made to society, and perhaps challenged us to think about what could still be done to problems that still prevail. When the box of feminist memories was shared, I related to most memories, and thought of many of my own. One memory which stood out to me was a woman who shared her memory of fighting for women to be allowed to wear pants to school in the early 1970s, which I related to my own self being sent to change in middle school and high school when I refused to wear a bra or conform to their dress codes which promoted rape culture; this being in the 2010s. It made me realize that there will always be problems for women, and that we must continue to fight for equality, while learning to include all identities, and acknowledge feminist archives.

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Works Cited

Bociurkiw, Marusya. “Big Affect: The Ephemeral Archive of Second-Wave Feminist Video                     Collectives in Canada” Camera Obscura (2016) 31 (3 (93)): 5-33.

 

 

 

 

Katarina Vidojevic (500753107)

 

The Laboratory of Feminist Memory

When I entered this crowded historical bookstore for the first time, I felt a sense of closeness. I can’t quite say what I expected to feel, but I can say that I was sort of surprised by my initial emotion. I looked around and was surrounded by people who all seemed to not only know each other, but care about each other. People I had never met had approached me to start conversations, and I found myself feeling a sort of solitude.

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I think that there is a power in feminism that is hard to match. Understanding feminist thought and diving into feminist memory opens the door to meeting many other women who have powerful emotions that they want to share. It is not a community of judgement and limits. It is a community where everyone is welcome. For this reason, hearing the many speakers address a history of oppression, sadness, and judgement, while still remaining positive and comical, is amazing. There is no stopping women in this fight.

Something that really stood out for me in the night was the use of comedy. In my group project, we chose to take a satirical approach to our assignment because we felt that comedy has the ability to reach all people as a sort of distraction to the punchline. Similarly, when Curfew For Men came up, I found myself laughing at the sort of ridiculousness of it all. How can a room of people come together and laugh at how silly some of these judgmental and inaccurate statements sound? It can only mean that we have come so far.

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Meg Mackay stood out for me because she was able to portray the seriousness of the night while still remaining upbeat and fun. I think she perfected the idea of not taking herself too seriously for the audience’s enjoyment. When she began to talk about herself and her love life, I felt connected to her in ways that I was surprised to feel. As a straight white woman, I have a privilege that I try to understand and recognize on a regular basis. However it is difficult to understand other people’s struggle’s if you have never experienced them. For this reason, I found myself surprised to feel the emotion in the room so strongly. It was a moving experience.

I also felt that the location of the event was perfect. As a child, I escaped my darkest days with reading. I worked at a bookstore for 5 years and saw how books had the ability to transform a person and allow them to relate so strongly to what was sometimes a fictional story. That’s the best part about reading- you can see yourself in another person and begin to feel a little less alone. I loved how there were books for all ages because it allows for both children and young adults to seek refuge in a novel that could potentially save their lives. When I was growing up, I read my favourite books “Magic Tree House” over and over again because I felt like I was escaping to a different world with the characters.

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Finally, I would like to point out that as a whole, this class has allowed me to understand social justice in a way that I had not had the opportunity to understand before. I am grateful to have had a place that not everybody has the opportunity to experience. This was a great way to end my experience at Ryerson University, as it was my very last elective to take towards graduating this Spring. I am grateful.

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A Celebration of the Feminist Archive @ the World’s Oldest LGBTQ Bookstore

Written by Wenlun (Leslie) Li #500657811

“Wow!” 

I have to start this blog with an interjection to express my genuine feelings on the event, before I came to the event, I imagined it to be a scholarly panel talk, speakers read out their research paper and express their ideology behind the scenes. I never imagine it to be such a vibrant and lit series.

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As I walked into the crowded bookstore, I was immediately attracted by those bookshelves. It got me thinking when is the last time I picked up a paperbacked book, and I can’t remember. (Irrelevant to the topic, just want to express that little thought)

As the event started, with all the films, research projects and experiences being presented and shared with us, I began to develop some serious thoughts on the topic. The host lovely Meg Mackay opened the event with some of her personal stories, including coming out and her love life.

The most impressive presentation for me personally was when Anna Willats sharing her experiences of having a kid as a lesbian couple during the 1980s in Canada. Underlying the historical issues for LGBTQ community back in the 80s, and comparing and relating situations today, I found it very touching in a nonverbal way. While Anna said her grandson will have 60 grandmothers, it really got me laughed and thinking, does gender really matter? Unfortunately, I came up with an answer ‘yes, it does.” All the speakers today shared their previous work on feminism, and some of them really had some hard times in making their films and other types of artworks.

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Comparing to other feminism topics we discussed in class, today’s event was more about LGBTQ issues, and problems they had faced in their old times. Stonewall Riots and Proposition 8 were two typical time frames which gathered LGBTQ activists and stand up for their rights.

Recognizing all of these speakers’ work contributed and had played a big part of the feminist movement, I really believed that human can make changes, it is a theory I did not have the interest before. But, seeing their exhibitions tonight, especially Thirza Cuthand’s 3 minutes short-film ‘Lessons in Baby Dyke Theory’. The idea of a 15-year girl of finding lesbians of her age back in 1995, inspired me. The ideaology behind her work is so simple and genuine, which gave me the feeling that this does not have to be so profound and academic. Simple things like that could really inspire people.

Another project I would like to mention is the ‘Think About It Show’ which produced by RTA students from our university. They utilized the satire to express their thoughts, through a fake news style, they managed to take lead into popular discussions among the modern society which really got me ‘think about it’. It made me realized that we are too familiar with the way certain things are nowadays which we forgot to think.

I’ve written a blog on how we entered a post-truth era where everyone stopped caring,  “living in a post-truth era, we developed a special pattern to deal with various events and situations. This pattern is: react instantly, then, forget immediately.” Now I feel like we have the power to change things up.

 

 

 

 

Living Archives – The Laboratory of Feminist Memory

By Melody McMullan – 500501392

Tonight was the final event of the ARTivism Lab Speakers Series, the Laboratory of Feminist Memory Bar. This was a fantastic and really fun event which I really enjoyed attending. The evening consisted of a variety of different and interesting presentations which took many forms such as songs, poetry readings and videos. What I think I enjoyed most about the evening was the diversity of expression. Even in simply the presenters who were under the banner of “Things Feminist Activists Wrote (Or Did) When They Were Younger”, each of them interpreted that concept very differently.

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The evening had me thinking a lot about archives, and the way that an event like this is representative of good archival practice. In Steiner’s work she discusses “the process of archiving one’s own cultural history as a means to ‘heal and be empowered’” (4). Right from the start, I would definitely describe the evening as empowering. One of the moments that I remarked on was during the presentation of Curfew for Men there were many moments which had the entire audience laughing. Now, I don’t know if this is the kindest sentiment I have ever had, but I certainly can’t deny that I enjoyed sitting in a crowd of (almost) all women laughing together at men saying foolish things. There was something about the comradery and shared experience that I really enjoyed.

Steiner also discusses the way that “archiving non-traditional documents…presents a challenge to dominant discourses about which informational objects are valid for preservation” (11). This thought was particularly at play tonight, in the wide range of things that were exhibited. When I think of ‘archival documents’ I think of massive ledgers, maybe museum artefacts at a stretch. But these evening had so much more. From a novice video made by a 16-year-old in 1995, to a modern feminist’s social media feed, to a comedic music video about the vulva, each of these pieces could be so easily brushed off as unworthy of archival. But when they are exhibited in such a venue, they are given value and status.

In presenting each of these items in the form of a living archive, through the Laboratory of Feminist Memory, the importance of wide reaching and non-traditional archives can truly be seen. Especially when one realizes that the points made in We’re Talking Vulva are just as relevant today as when it was made.

Another element that stuck out to me, largely because of what my group did for our art project, was the power in comedy. We focused on satire specifically, and found multiple sources which indicated that satire connected with audiences so strongly because of the way it impacted their emotions (Lee & Jang, El Marzouki, da Silva & Garcia). I feel that in a similar way, the use of comedy throughout the evening helped make it more enjoyable, by bonding the audience, and making everyone happy and receptive to new ideas. I was a particular fan of Meg Mackay’s comedic bits and lighthearted hosting.

All in all, it was a fantastic and enjoyable night that was a great way to end an excellent class!

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

da Silva, Patrícia Dias, and José Luís Garcia. “YouTubers as satirists: Humour and remix in online video.” JeDEM – eJournal of eDemocracy & Open Government, vol. 4, no. 1, 2012, pp. 89-114.

El Marzouki, Mohamed. “Satire as counter-discourse: Dissent, cultural citizenship, and youth culture in Morocco.” International Communication Gazette, vol. 77, no. 3, 2015, pp. 282-296.

Lee, Hoon, and S. Mo Jang. “Talking About What Provokes Us: Political Satire, Emotions, and Interpersonal Talk.” American Politics Research, vol. 45, no. 1, 2017, pp. 128-154.

Steiner, Melissa. “Resisting digital archive fever: a critical investigation into the management of QTIPOC cultural heritage in the digital environment.” Unpublished Master’s Thesis, pp. 4-15.