The diffusion of artistic and cultural production of women remains a complicated debate in modern society. A debate that constantly ranges between the required reverse discrimination and the even more pressing and necessary integration of female production. We need a completely new art world linked to a renewed and more plural speech —and inclusive one— where we reject the official manifestos and plead for a reformulation of the artworks which accommodate all those narratives.
A new exhibition, His Gaze Owns Her, curated by Treeney Harkin, moves around the question of “why the male gaze?”. It successfully points out how there are more women in high paid jobs and in government than ever before, how the women of Ireland voted to repeal the eighth amendment and how women are calling out every industry from film to fashion to bring an end to sexual discrimination yet we are still seeing negative effects of an ingrained male gaze in society every day through sexual harassment, catcalling and objectification.
His Gaze Owns Her takes all of this into consideration and aims to give female artists a space to claim back their bodies, to show the female form as it is: strong and powerful instead of passive; as a person and not as an object.
The exhibition, split into two evenings, will feature nine creatives including: Boys in Polish by Jess Young, Olivia Lynch, Amy Beasley, Louisa Foley, Rosa Burgess, Melissa Eakin, Bonnie Bowley, Freya Douglas Ferguson and Socha Collster. A life drawing set by The London Drawing Club will comment on the power play that surrounds the female body, drawing attention to the media’s manipulation of our objectification by providing porn magazines as art materials. A nail bar by Boys in Polish will twist the gender stipulations of popular beauty regimes.
The second evening will be an intimate and engaging evening for a small group of girls that seeks to open up the conversation about the effects of the male gaze in a safe environment, followed by an empowering self-defence class.
In collaboration with the event the charity, Action Breaks Silence, will be joining the second evening. Action Breaks Silence is an amazing charity that works to fight gender-based inequality and violence around the world. Since 2013 they have taught over 50,000 beneficiaries in the UK, South Africa, India and Curacao. Founder of the charity, Debi Stevens was the recipient of an ‘International Women of Change’ award and was awarded the “Point of Light” by David Cameron in recognition of her work. By working with Action Breaks Silence the exhibition can in some small way spread the important work that they are doing. If a small group of girls leave feeling stronger and empowered and they teach another small group of girls, the cycle of strength grows. Then hopefully one day soon, we can talk about gender equality in the past tense.
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