PROLOGUE III: Art Activism and Feminism in the Middle East

What can the art exhibition room do to the feministic message?

 

The situation in the Middle East is marked by violence, conflict, war and oppression, and the humanitarian crises overshadows everything that happens in the region. At the same time there is a a comprehensive commitment amongst some local activists and artists that tries to to influence and change the situation from within. Art, activism and feminism are established traditions with long historical roots in several countries in the region, and lately more women have distinguished themselves as journalists, photographers, bloggers, artists and activists. In this seminar FSS wish to give attention to participants who are - in spite of the difficult situation - continues to raise their voices in the art activistic field in countries like Iran, Jemen, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia.

 

Among the questions FSS want to explore in this seminar is: 

* What is going on at the art-feministic scene in the region of the Middle East today?

* What kind of role can art and feminism have in the political development in the Middle East? 

* In which way will art activism and visual feminism challenge the established notions of gender roles and gender identity in the Middle East?

By giving voice to participants that work inside the art activist field in the the Middle East, the seminar will research what kind of combination of gender, art and politic is folding out. The contributors that wil be invited to this seminar are women with this region as a background. Either if they are based there or in the diaspora, they are actively contributing to challenge and question, established views on the Middle East's sex ratio, and especially on the topic of women and their power to act through their art. In this way the seminar will challenge established perceptions of women in particular, in the Middle East region as passive and oppressed victims.

 

FSS finds it very important to reveal what kind of feministic movements there are in the Middle East and which directions they are going. In addition how female artists place themselves in relation to various feminist perspectives. The seminar seeks to contribute in this task by questioning the notion that there is an antagonism between the western feminism on one side and the Middle East's or Muslim culture on the other side. Through letting artists and activists from the region present their own works and view points, will this dichotomy be challenged. Our hope is that the seminar will strenghten the notion that neither gender, religion or ethnicity in it self is crucial for what kind of feminism or activism is promoted, but rather show what kind of variations and ranges that exsist on te artisitic and feminsistic scene in the region today.