Sunday, July 29, 2012

Ommulbanin Shamsia Hassani: Street art and the female form

Ommulbanin Shamsia Hassani is an emerging street artist whose paintings conceptualize women wearing the burqa in Afghanistan. When talking about the subject of her wall murals in Kabul, Hassani says: “I always do women in burqas for my graffiti but I do it in a modern way. I want to take them out of their old clichéd form. I mean their shape is very different...their shoulders, their bodies. When I work I recreate the female form.” Since 2010, she has painted her images and accompanying poetry on wall murals in Kabul. 

Through public art, Hassani takes on the role of activist and educator who encourages audiences to think critically about social injustice in the community. Her wall murals deliberately comment on women’s restricted participation in public spaces in Afghanistan and encourage audiences to think critically about freedom of expression, power struggles in society, and restrictions that prohibit all people from participating in community dialogue. 

The following video of Hassani was featured on the website Kabul - A City at Work, a multi-media project that presents positive views of the vibrant economic life in Afghanistan through portraits, interviews, and videos of people in Kabul. Check out the video, Who is the Graffiti Artist? here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Madeleine Parent (1918-2012): Student activist

Union organizer, feminist, and student activist Madeleine Parent fought for scholarships for low-income students at McGill University in the late 1930’s. She became involved in the student movement in Montréal over seventy years ago, at a time when men were considered to be the predominant force in university settings and women took second place. After the Second World War, the sons of rich families had the right to access higher education, while the daughters of rich or poor families did not. Parent insisted that scholarships should be given to both women and men, who she argued, should have equal rights to education, learning, and making a better living. Parent’s activism and determination played a pivotal role in the creation of numerous scholarships and bursaries for low-income women and men in Canada.

In a 1989 interview, Parent spoke about the rising costs of education and the negative impact of such costs on society, stating that “the pressure on social programs and educational programs are such nowadays that unless we are constantly vigilant, active and united, governments will increase the costs of education and only the children of the rich will receive a higher education” (Interview from Studies in Political Economy 30, Autumn 1989). Today Canadian provincial governments continue to increase the cost of university tuition, reducing the ability for students from lower income families to afford post-secondary education. 

Parent believed in bringing people together in social solidarity to fight for an increase in accessibility to social and educational programs and an economy based on the ‘greater need’ for all people. She passed away recently on March 12, 2012 but her legacy will not be forgotten, especially as the student movement thrives. 
Click on this link: Interview with Madeleine Parent for the full interview from Studies in Political Economy 30, Autumn 1989.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Femmes for Accessible Education

Regrets for the infrequency of posting recently, but as you may well imagine, we at the Wall of Femmes have been taking to the streets lately with hundreds of thousands of others across Quebec and elsewhere to demand accessible education and an end to neo-liberal austerity politics. 

For those not in the Montreal area, you may find the following links of interest in describing the situation here and what people are fighting for. For live coverage of demonstrations, check out CUTV Montreal (Concordia University TeleVision). 

From the UK Guardian, written by Montrealer Martin Lukacs

And from the Montreal Media Co-op, by Andrew Gavin Marshall

Of course, tuition hikes will disproportionately affect women, as outlined here by Concordia University's Simone de Beauvoir Institute

In related news, check out the poster below which we contributed to Montreal's Anarchist Bookfair last weekend. 

That's all for now, more to come soon. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

So MUCH Love

Whew, it's been a pretty busy few weeks for the Wall of Femmes. Our little project has been featured in a few media sources of interest lately.

The Wall of Femmes is extremely excited to share with you this terrific video of the collective at work. We were so fortunate to collaborate with the fantastic Steven Fadellin on the creation of this video. We hope you'll enjoy it!! Keep reading after the video for more!

We are also thrilled to share that a feature about the Wall that was published in the Winter 2012 edition of Broken Pencil Magazine! The mag is available at several outlets across Canada and the US, or can be ordered from their website. 

Thanks so much to the Broken Pencil team for the great article! We love you!

We're also thrilled that the Wall of Femmes was discussed on the airwaves of Montreal's favourite Campus and Community station, CKUT, 90.3FM, on February 22, 2012! The fine ladies at the XX Files radio show hosted an engaging conversation about the Wall of Femmes. In case you missed it, a podcast of the show can be found at the CKUT ArchivesWe love you too, CKUT and the XX Files!

Finally, the Wall of Femmes collective got some love from fantastic Québec City based feminist fashion blog À l'Allure Garçonnière. Since this great blog was already on our bookmark list, it was doubly exciting to read about garçonnière's reaction to seeing the stencils in the city she calls home. From her blog: 

"The idea that a young person who lives in this city might go home and google the names of the women whose art, words, and work have changed my life (for the better) leaves me feeling hopeful and excited for all the radical learning potential happening here."

Couldn't have said it better ourselves......we love you, garçonnière!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Hot Doc

Members of the Wall of Femmes collective are looking forward to joining the audience of a film screening and panel discussion to be held next week, Thursday, February 9, 2012, in Montreal, on the topic of the representation of women in the media. 

Media@McGill has organized several screenings of the 2011 documentary Miss Representation by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, to be followed by a panel discussion moderated by prominent Canadian feminist and co-founder of Judy Rebick. 

Screenings will take place at 11:00am, 1:00pm, 3:00pm and 5:00pm, with the panel discussion beginning at 7:00pm. Join the conversation at Leacock 232, 855 Sherbrooke St W!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Enforced Modesty: Just Another Form of Hyper-Sexualization

"It is the male gaze — the way men look at women — that needs to be desexualized, not women in public. The power to make sure men don’t see women as objects of sexual gratification lies within men’s — and only men’s — control."

- Dov Linzer in an op-ed piece for the New York Times, published January 20, 2012, on the topic of the increasingly heated struggle in Israel between civil society and ultra-Orthodox Jews over the role of women in their society. In a highly publicized incident last month, an eight year old girl was harassed, insulted and spat on by ultra-Orthodox adult men on her way to school, ostensibly for not being dressed modestly enough.