In the midst of the sessions, Donald Trump was sworn into presidency, and all around the world Women’s Marches were taking place at the same time, originally part of International Women’s Day now with a new focus.
Me and Katy had been planning a session using found materials to develop on from collages we’d made in a previous week – looking at issues that may effect women, and in turn young women. Katy therefore suggested we take the work to the site of the protest and our materials.
Beforehand we discussed the protest, and what it meant, and what issues they felt passionate about – highlighting the fact that all issues of protest concerned women, and the context of what a female specific protest meant. The LoT-D girls for example highlighted issues they were passionate about such as recycling and environmental issues. Katy shared some of her own work, that was performance art with a political message, and whether or not she felt it was successful or not (see some of those projects here). We talked about performative actions that could be playful too.
We also talked about projects such as Liberate Tate. Where the interventions created were in direct relationship to an institution and how this sought to reveal in the first instance, an unaddressed issue, one gallery goers may not know about.
Journey to the protest
We set off from the Live Art Development Agency which is in Hackney Wick – the LoT-D girls had found some brown paper bags, and thought of a phrase to write cross the three bags ‘LOOK’ ‘AWAY’ ‘NOW’. We took photographs in Hackney, interested to see how site would shift and effect the work, we all agreed it looked more like a band photograph, and talked about what it meant within an ‘artsy’ background, where this visual may expected.
The LoT-D girls then formulated a quick performance for the train there, to warm up to the idea of performing in public – we were particularly keen to see how the public would respond to this quiet performance, interrupting a routine event for a London resident – travelling on public transport.
We bought along a variety of materials with us, innocuous and everyday in nature. As we arrived the protest and march was waning, a few people around in Trafalgar Square, we chose a spot off the corner of the square as we thought it might make us more visible, rather than being drowned in the hubbub. We had some cling-film, which we had discussed as a tool for wrapping around the body – we wanted it to be a collaborative action, one girl wrapping and the other other breaking her out. We also appropriated a displayed protest sign reading ‘YOU ARE NOT POWERLESS’ on one side, and ‘I WILL NOT BE SILENT’ on the back. It was a great example of creating a moment, which generated its own audience – drawing them to stand and watch – the element of her being ‘trapped’ keeping people engaged, even though there was no pre determined time that the audience was aware of, waiting for the moment of release. I feel it managed to hit powerfully on a wider point about being able to speak, and the right to do so, and what means especially in the context of the ‘woman’s march’.
Watch the performance here.
Rebecca Lindsay – Addy, Live on The Drive Artist