Feminism Around The Globe: A Cooperation Between Artists, Experts, and Students from Strasbourg

Written by Eva Guillot & Ennio Mos

Strasbourg is known for its vibrant cultural life, and MA Euroculture students have had the opportunity to contribute to it by organizing a cultural event during their second semester. 

This is the case for Clara, Eliisa, Emma, Ennio and Eva, who put in place an art exhibition at the Librarie Le Tigre on “feminist movements around the globe.” The event seeks to reflect the cultural differences that mark various feminist movements, particularly in contrast to the French feminist movement, which is better known to the people of Strasbourg. To arouse the curiosity of the public and to make them aware of the transnational character of feminist struggles, this exhibition showcases the work of three local artists from Strasbourg: Leontine Soulier, Manon Saumand and Wonderbabette.

About the Artists 

Leontine Soulier is an illustrator and speaks of her history and the world around her. We see life, bodies, nature, and things that revolt or disturb her. With poetry and ever-present metaphor, she tries to finely instil ideas: to say a little, but not too much, to leave the reader free to read these images according to their own feelings, their experience, and their identity. For the exhibition, Leontine presented two illustrations in which she placed naked women’s bodies in curious positions, embedded in beautiful landscapes that remind us of the world abroad; without knowing exactly where this scenery takes place. It is hard to tell if those women are uncomfortable or peaceful: the artist wants to bring attention to the way that women need to constantly adapt to the world around them, wherever they go, keeping in mind their challenging position in a patriarchal society.

Manon Saumande is an artist and Master’s student in Plastic Arts at the University of Strasbourg. Her research subject is largely focused on the tensioning of the female body, as well as its strangeness. Particularly, Manon’s photographic work highlights the female nude through the self-portrait, using an intimate camera: the Polaroid. This kind of art can be considered controversial in some cultures as it challenges the boundaries of prudishness, and it exemplifies the variety of perceptions of and reactions to the female body in different cultural settings. It was the first time Manon participated in an art exhibition with her art, making this event a valuable opportunity for her to experience how it is to present self-made art to an audience, and an honour for the audience to experience her art for the first time.

Babette Rezicinier, aka Wonderbabette, is a multi-talented contemporary artist who conveys her candour and bubbly energy through her productions. She varies her modes of creations and never fails to surprise the public with her tender and witty way of interpreting the world and femininity. One of her installations is currently exhibited at the Librairie Le Tigre. In a tiny suitcase, you can find a screen that displays the injunctions of “good conduct” that used to shape women’s behaviour in relation to men. Whether the absurdity of those rules makes us laugh or leaves us sour, it is a relief to see that they have disappeared today; much credit and thanks to the work of feminist movements over the years.

The Exhibition Launch

On Friday June 3rd, 2022, two speakers were invited to the opening event of this exhibition and shared their expertise on the theme of transnational feminism with the public. The first speaker of the evening was Claudia Lam, a representative of the Council of Europe. With her experience as Deputy to the Director at the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights, she talked about the approach of the Council of Europe in terms of safeguarding women’s rights and promoting gender equality. By explaining complex concepts, such as the Istanbul Convention in rather general terms, she made her speech accessible for a wide audience to absorb and share. Lam concluded her talk by stressing the importance of intersectionality: the recognition that each individual has unique life experiences, and that the intersections of race and class, for example, with sex and gender must be taken into account when discussing discrimination and feminism. 

The second speaker at the exhibition opening was Yvette Marcela Garcia. This expert is a cultural worker in the associative sector, has a doctorate in sociology without a post, is a lecturer at the University of Strasbourg, and a researcher associated with the Lincs Laboratory. Her research focuses on the sociology of social relations, feminist studies and the sociology of migrations. As a Franco-Chilean child of exile, she is interested in feminism in Latin America, especially in Chile. During the opening evening, Garcia gave an inspiring overview of the evolution of feminist movements in Chile, how they influenced and were influenced by other movements in Latin America. The point was to explore connecting cultures, and it was interesting to see that while feminism all over the world struggles with the same issues,  there are still regional or cultural differences. 

This event has shown to be a mixture of two worlds where art and expertise came together. Even though both disciplines do not per definition have the same target group as audience, their combination has been proven a valuable opportunity to increase the number of interested people. Whether a message is conferred through paint, photos, installations, or speeches, at the end of the day it is about reaching people the best way we can – and a multidisciplinary approach can help us do so. Therefore, we encourage everyone to think about how art, music, theatre, literature, speech, and all other sorts of cultural activities can be combined to strengthen any message worth spreading.  

This exhibition on feminism around the globe was on display from June 3rd until June 17th, 2022 at Librarie Le Tigre.


Pictures credit: Costanza Bossi

The makings of a ‘Voldemort’: How J.K. Rowling lived long enough to become the Villain

By Fairuzah Atchulo Munaaya Mahama

A while ago, the hashtag #RIPJKRowling trended on Twitter. It was so enthralling that the social media had to clarify that the English author was indeed still alive and tweeting away. The hashtag was the Twitterverse’s response to Rowling’s new book: “Troubled blood”, published under her pseudonym Robert  Galbraith. The bone of contention was a serial killer character, who abducted and murdered women while adorned in female clothes, all to the scintillating tune of ‘never trust a man in a dress’. Like all things on the  internet, the hashtag drew both blood and hard lines among two camps, both vociferously defending their stance. 

Supporters of Rowling saw the hashtag as an attack on her freedom to speech and right to expression and opinion. After all, she was not the first author to pen a cross-dressing male serial killer. If so, we should also ‘cancel’ Psycho  and Silence of the Lamb! For them, the hashtag was simply another blowout from  ‘snowflakes’ yet again taking offence to their delicate sensibilities. 

Proponents of the hashtag, however, saw themselves as expressing their ire at a beloved author in what they considered the culmination of her transphobic views. To them, the hashtag symbolized the death of  Rowling’s reputation and  her place and adoration in their lives. The arguments of both parties prompt two critical questions relevant to today’s culture of ‘cancellation’ and political correctness: To tweet or not to tweet? Where does freedom of speech end and consequences begin? 

Continue reading “The makings of a ‘Voldemort’: How J.K. Rowling lived long enough to become the Villain”

No Sacrifice, No Victory: Building Chinese collective narratives

Whoever has won the US presidential elections, China is ready. The movie Sacrifice (金剛川 2020) tells us why.

by Wong Tsz (王子)

Background

The time was June 1953, the Korean War had been going on for three years, Chinese volunteers were still fighting tirelessly in a war they believed was necessary to defend their motherland. The mountains of Kumsong set the foreground of the last major battle of the war. In the valley of the mountains lies the Kumsong River (金剛川). Chinese engineers were ordered to build a bridge on the river to ensure the logistical support to the troops stationed in the mountain. The bridge was destroyed seven times by UN artillery and air raids and seven times it was rebuilt by brave Chinese volunteers. The movie Sacrifice – the original title of which is “Kumsong River” (金剛川) – narrates the perspectives of three soldiers at this scene.

The reasons behind China’s involvement in the Korean War were manifold: a communist alliance, the wider impact of Maoism, Chinese national security interests, economic incentives       from Soviet Russia to its eastern neighbors and the need to consolidate domestic political control in mainland China shortly after defeating the Nationalists. The official terminology in China for the Korean War is ‘抗美援朝’ – ’Resist US Aggression and Aid (North) Korea’-, a term that avoids explicitly mentioning of the term ‘war’: the Chinese were helping the Koreans while the Americans were the demon. This perspective would of course be interpreted very differently in South Korea and in the West. The Korean War was the first ‘hot’ war of the Cold War, and the distress of a communist expansion in East Asia was clear and imminent. For many years, this conflict  has been a very sensitive part of Chinese history – but things are changing.

Continue reading “No Sacrifice, No Victory: Building Chinese collective narratives”

The changing face of activism: From Rudi Dutschke to Cara Delevigne

By Sophie Renhuldt

Das Private ist politisch – Kommune 1’s infamous motto has perhaps never been more pertinent than it is at present, as the zeitgeist of the 60’s protest movements persists in today’s vitriolic political climate. Whilst social conventions were once challenged by the likes of Rudi Dutschke and his army of rebellious youths, it appears that corporations and celebrities have taken the lead in matters of social responsibility.

From Starbucks’ refugee hiring plan, to Nike’s take on racial inequality, businesses seem desperate to display an authentic sense of awareness, reflecting a global marketing epidemic: brand activism. Previously apolitical companies are suddenly raising their voices, with the importance placed on being heard. And, with the exception of maybe Pepsi’s tone-deaf advertisement featuring Kendall Jenner, the commodification of activism is selling.

Continue reading “The changing face of activism: From Rudi Dutschke to Cara Delevigne”

The Roots of Racism: Understanding today’s protests through yesterday’s lens

By Ana Alhoud

On May 25th an innocent man was killed by an unrelenting knee.
That knee belonged to a man who saw only what he wanted to see.
He held him there on the asphalt and ignored his pleas for mercy.
“Please,” said the man on the ground. “I can’t breathe.”
While one man’s knee crushed life from the other, people watched.
Cell phones held like nets so the day’s injustice could be caught.
Horrified faces and traumatized eyes saw this same terror, but weren’t that surprised.
The deepest stares were those of the man’s peers, in silent agreement with the execution taking place at their feet.
The people cried, they screamed and shrieked
For another life lost on this “colorblind” street.
A few days later a police station was set ablaze by a group of people hurt to the point of fury.
This latest reminder that their skin is a sin took its place as the people’s jury.
The kindling of 400 years of terror and sub-standard citizenship finally caught flame,
And that flame roars with the wails of millions wrongfully slain.
The pot has boiled over and the world stops to see
What happens when the people remember how to be
Together, fighting for each one to be free…
George Floyd looks on, finally able to breathe. Continue reading “The Roots of Racism: Understanding today’s protests through yesterday’s lens”