equals: exploring feminism through art & conversation…with women & men!

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By Nathalie Boobis & Anne Louise Kershaw, Exhibition Curators

equals is a Blank Media Collective curatorial project. Inspired by a love of art & creativity and a desire to open up and extend the issues that surround feminism, equals will take place in Manchester, UK from 11th-28th July.

The programme includes an art exhibition, mass speed debate, arts events, radical women walks, a radio show and a blog.

Once the programme has finished however, we hope that all of these ideas, the art created, the articles written and the issues explored, will extend well beyond the project in book form; encouraging conversations yet to be had and further ideas yet to be formed.

The equals book, like the entire project, has very much been made in the telling. What was initially planned to be a responsive publication has developed into a full-scale extensive discourse on contemporary feminism. It has attracted artists of all media and writers from all over the world. Its conception has inspired the creation of original art work and written pieces that specifically explore feminism today. And this is why we need help to get funded and the reason behind our Kickstarter project.

equals aims to go some way to addressing and developing the issues surrounding feminism. By creating new and accessible forums, we hope to invite more people into the conversation. And by people we mean women and men.

Through the artwork in the exhibition, to the work developed for the publication and the conversations we hope it will inspire, equals hopes to challenge preconceptions, reinvigorate the word feminism and hopefully move a step closer to achieving a better model of gender equality, for all!

When we were invited to write this guest blog post and asked why we thought it was important for men to back the equals project as allies, we put the question out to the Blank Media Collective team. Here are just some of the responses we received:

“Because feminism doesn’t mean pro-woman or anti-man and indeed can fall into reductive traps when considered in terms of binaries. It’s a movement for equality regardless of sex, gender or sexuality. The question ‘are you a feminist?’ should be considered akin to ‘are you anti-racism?’ Of course I am!!” – Sarah Handyside

“Feminism is not about women taking all the power for themselves, it’s about equality and creating a better society for everyone. I like this quote from Naomi Wolf : ‘I think we need to evolve as a society in which men and women have balanced lives as workers, partners and parents, and a real community life’. It’s really simple and refers to maternity and paternity leave and childcare issues. It’s just one example of why projects like equals need to exist so that issues like these can be discussed to enable us to hopefully move forward.” –  Lisa Denyer

“Discrimination and gender inequalities are never going to change if the feminist debate stays a female discourse. Men need to participate in the discussion around feminism; a dialogue needs to be established. Otherwise we will keep running around in circles – it´s great if women establish a strong sense of what they want and need and what they think society should be like, but if men are excluded from this debate, there is no way things are actually going to change. There need to be male voices to anchor feminism in reality. Feminism, just like the equals project, is about collaboration, not exclusion, it´s about being human and the experience of living together on one planet.”  – Insa Langhorst

The project is operating on the conviction that feminism neither means pro-woman or anti-man but is a movement for equality and a better society for all, regardless of sex, gender or sexuality. With this in mind, the goal is to evolve the discussion by opening it out to all; because it is relevant to everyone. Men also need to be part of the conversation because for feminism to come into effect in the sense of an evolved, equal and fair society, all voices, angles and opinions need to be heard.

equals strives to welcome all voices, and the book aims to share those voices with the world.

We think we have developed something unique and progressive; we have attracted some amazingly innovative artists and thinkers and have the potential to inspire further ideas and imaginings about feminism and art. Contributing to the production of this book is also contributing towards the canon of feminist discourse, artistic expression and gender equality. And gender equality means equality for women and for men, and that is why, as allies, we should always work together.

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