First Person: Harnessing art's power to make a stand
The annual SheFest is a flagship celebration as part of International Women's Day, promoting gender equality and developing supportive networks for self-defining women.
For 2017, the festival worked with independent art space 35 Chapel Walk to present ‘In Plain Sight’.
The art exhibition aimed to challenge, persist and celebrate.
The exhibition recognised the importance of celebrating the empowerment of women and the steps that are being made with progressive feminism.
However, it highlighted and challenged the problems that women word-wide still face every day as a result of patriarchy and misogyny.
‘In Plain Sight’ brought together a diverse variety of national and international artists.
One area of turbulence was highlighted by visual artist Faiza Omar.
Through her film ‘The Good, the Bad and the Hijab’, the artist gives the viewer an insight into what Muslim women are subjected to in everyday life.
Voicing comments that she has personally been at the receiving end of, the artist addresses the way the world views the Hijab.
A film displayed nearby by Clemence B.T.D Barret showed an intimate portrait of an Indian urban woman and her split personalities, exploring the invisible earthquakes caused by Indian society and its ongoing violence against women.
The exhibition was opened by the immersive performance ‘Woman with Salad’ by Emily Perry. The London-based artist worked with seven women from Sheffield and further afield to create ‘live gifs’ depicting women as seen in stock imagery.
The work reflects on the relationship between images and appearances and the physical and social constraints that determine identity.
As part of the programme the gallery hosted a film and performance weekend.
This allowed the curators to draw attention to the work of a wider range of artists and to address further issues that women face today.
Overall the exhibition was a success, seeing hundreds of people engage with the topic.
Look out for more collaborative projects from SheFest and 35 Chapel Walk in 2018.