#RIOTGAL — The rebirth of a movement
To mark International Women’s Day I was fortunate enough to attend an art exhibition called #Riotgal organised by the lovely young artist named Sophia Tassew.
This was Tassew’s second art exhibition as she had previously held her first event called ‘140BPM’, heavily influenced by Grime to show the diversity in culture and art. She continued to promote this diversity in her second exhibition with the focus on intersectionality.
From Riot Grrrl to Riot Gal
What excited me about this event is the way Tassew changed a feminist movement from the 90s that were predominantly white and middle class, made it a movement that can include every female from any culture (hence the change from ‘grrrl’ to ‘gal’). At her event, she even said that men shouldn’t shy away from calling themselves a Riotgal as well, which is part of the revolutionary thought that men should be feminists too. The fact that Tassew used art to promote this positive message is the FWRD thinking that we are crazy about.
This event did exactly what it set out to do, with artists diverse in race, bodies and ages, everything that intersectional feminism aims to promote. I realise that I might be throwing jargon at you, so to clear it up intersectionality is a term that American professor, Kimberlé Crenshaw used to define feminism as a view that women experience oppression in varied ways and at different intensities.
Amateur to Art
Being an amateur to art myself, this was one of the few art exhibitions I have ever gone to and to be honest it has motivated me to have more of an interest in this type of creativity. In order to get the best picture of the event, I decided to ask around to see what pieces stood out the most for people.
I had to ask the best; aside from Sophia’s own work, which piece would be her fave? She chose:
Ode to Women by Erica Nuamah
After having a conversation with Tassew about why she chose this artwork she explained that she ‘felt this piece was unique in many ways’. Aside from the general aesthetics being different to what you usually see, this piece made her think about herself through the artwork. She told me that this was contrary to normality as rather than making you think of the subject in the artwork itself, instead, it made you more self-reflective and think about your own self-perception.
I agree, this piece made me think about how I perceive myself and maybe how due to insecurities my mind focuses on what I lack and the negative ways I see myself. I felt like this piece is so relevant due to the unrealistic expectations of looks that society holds for women, often making us feel not ‘good enough’ or unattractive.
I also asked Magdalene Lepri, a fellow FWRD contributor and artist who attended this event which piece she preferred and there were two that she loved, the same piece Sophia chose and also:
#5000 by Evar Hussayni
Lepri said that for her it was the sheer execution of this art, the fact that there was so much of it, you felt the effect of the ridiculous amount of women being kidnapped and falling victim to sex trafficking in the Middle East. The excessiveness of this piece makes you feel inferior and it sparked emotion in me as I imagined these women just being seen as ‘another number’ to add to the pile without their autonomy.
I thought I should add my personal touch and say my that my favourite piece was:
Reclamation by Lindo Khandela
This stood out for me because it shows that women can be sexual beings too. Society makes our women feel bad for loving sex and get labelled as promiscuous, however, it is seen as acceptable for a man. Just like what this artwork is called, it allows women to reclaim control of their bodies and shows that it is your body, your choice, and you should never be judged for that. I also love the different textures and colours used for the skin as it represents, for me, that I am more than just my skin, and there is so much more beneath that.
All in all this exhibition entailed what it means to be an intersectional feminist and I have only touched on just a few of the amazing pieces that were on show. Thank you to Sophia Tassew for using her creativity to promote culture and diversity in the feminist movement and we look forward to the future projects she has in store!