INTERVIEW: RE-IMAGINE | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Jessica Warren, The dirt under my fingernails

Challenging perspectives and changing the narrative around difficult subjects is surely one of the purposes of great art; when we’re forced to confront uncomfortable truths, walk in another’s shoes or look at a subject from an unfamiliar perspective we are perhaps better able to understand, empathise and affect change.

It’s by taking this position that RE-IMAGINE, a new exhibition at the North East-based online Pink-Collar Gallery, addresses the distressing subject of femicide. In partnership with Mexican feminist art collective Las Illuministas (one half of which is fellow Northerner, artist Tallulah Lines, who is currently living in Mexico), they have invited artists to “re:imagine, re:name, re:create, re:think and re:tell” the very real stories of women whose lives have been taken by femicide. Across parallel online exhibitions, ten pieces of art and documentary film will go on display, hoping to challenge the way femicide is portrayed in the mass media.

We have personal stories that relate to domestic violence, posters about the statistics around femicide and activist pieces to highlight this global issue.” Says Pink-Collar Gallery’s Michaela Wetherell.

We have personal stories that relate to domestic violence, posters about the statistics around femicide and activist pieces to highlight this global issue

With a subject as emotive as this it comes as no surprise that the work is affecting, and the stories behind its creation often even more so. Filmed performance piece The Dirt Under My Fingernails by Jessica Warren depicts the artist herself nude in a wooded area where women’s bodies have been discovered; in reclaiming the trauma, memory and place, the artist seeks to empower and embed new memories. “The work also related to how women’s bodies are published in the media. Taking away everything of who they were to look like a lump of meat.” Jessica comments. “When these women are deceased the male gaze holds them captive in the way they are photographed. Women can not be ignored any more, the loss and the fear are real and the only way the world will realise it is if this is communicated in real life.”

Elsewhere in the exhibition, Leanne Pearce’s drawing of a solitary figure is entitled Asking For It?, and sees the artist questioning how the media and society would portray or judge her if they only saw one image. Other artists taking part in the exhibition include Sofia Barton, Slutmouth, Rosie Stronarch, Sarah Stamp among many more.

While the death of Sarah Everard earlier this year is still at the forefront of the national media, hers is just one of many tragic stories: in the UK one woman is killed by a man every three days and femicide is the biggest killer of women aged 15-44 in the world. In many cases, a cycle of blame and shame of the victims is common, with murders of women of colour, those living in poverty or with a disability rarely receiving media attention or outrage. In Mexico, 11 women a day are murdered and 97% of femicides end in impunity for the perpetrators.

It’s in highlighting these terrifying statistics and bearing witness to the lives and deaths of women that Michaela hopes to challenge how femicide is portrayed. “We need this message to be shouted out – all day every day – and we are hoping this exhibition and our commission’s public artworks can continue the fight to end femicide.”

RE-IMAGINE is presented by Pink-Collar Gallery and Las Illuministas online from Thursday 5th August-Friday 29th October

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