Saturday, November 3, 2007

Ladyfest: Has Come and Gone...

And I realize I took forever to post about it...yeah, I'm over a month late with a post, but here we go, FINALLY, cuz I did take me a lot of pictures.

May I remind you, I'm a printmaker and not a photographer lest ye judge my photo-aesthetic sensibility. Cool?

Here we go:

While Ladyfest was set for four days of feminist fun, I was only able to attend the day that I was part of, despite all-access passes due to work and school obligations. So while I would love to be sitting here, writing about Allyson Mitchell's films and the many other performances and workshops I would have loved to be there for, this review is limited to the art show on Saturday, September 29th, 2007.

Yep, another post about me.


Nonetheless, I did stick around for most of the performances and checked out ALL of the art so I can speak of others as well as myself.

So initially, things were worrisome, due to a fire in the Kapisanan Centre, where the art show was supposed to have taken place the night before. Fortunately, we didn't set up our art the night before, so no one's artistic accomplishments parished in tragic fate, and we relocated to St.Stephen's. Not only were my often-naked images available to be seen by an all-ages audience, but I got to show my hairy girls installation, "The Electric Furr" in a freakin' church!

Hey, I've never made any claims to maturity...

Here are my ladies...

I know that as an artist, I'm supposed to always be confident about my work and never betray any misgivings about it. But I am weak, and of low self-esteem when it comes to art. I love these images, don't get me wrong. However, I have to admit, I'm not too crazy about how I ended up putting them together. I sewed black thread into some of the images, and that comprimised some of my prints so they looked crinkled, as well I feel like I never resolved properly the issue of display with my hairy girls that I re-drew from FHM magazine (as seen in the first two images above). Okay, I've aired it out, I feel better now, and I'm gonna do better this year.

That being said, I am proud of my stories in this piece.

And quite frankly, I'm actually pretty shocked that I have the nerve to call myself an artist in this post. Muahahaha.

The intent for this project was for people to read my narratives surrounding body hair, as told in lithographic form, but to also be able to move the velcro-text panels around to create their own. But alas, the new location forbade any nail-banging into the walls, so my panels had to be gingerly placed against the walls, disallowing the audience interaction I was going for. Fortunately, I still managed to get a response out of people, however passive it was limited to...

Now on to the rest of the show

Featuring the music of:


This was the first act me and the boy caught. We were late due to traffic on College St, making a normally 15 minute ride over forty minutes long. However, we were just in time for these ladies.

I have to admit, I was caught a little off guard by their style. Unpolished, yet totally fearless, initially this band had my boy, an experienced musician and performer, with his jaw dropping. Featuring pre-recorded sound, and three young women jumping and singing like Napolean Dynamite was their hero (probably amongst a pile of fierce women heroes too), 123TEN was probably the most creative musical display I've seen in a long time. I had stepped out for a minute to place a phonecall to my boss, and by the time I came back in, this band won my boy's heart with their infectuous tunes. I was surprised, mostly because of his usual musical snobbery. But 123TEN certianly owned it by the end of their set.

Rae Spoon

He stole my heart. I'm not usually one for country-folk, but his melancholy and sardonic flavour reeled me in. What a haunting voice! Here my music snob boy companion too was impressed by the prowess of Spoon's guitar skills; me, he just stole me away from my seat as he alternated between song and anecdote. Part of this festival as a transgender artist, Rae Spoon was my favourite act of the night, and I hope to see him perform again soon.

Forest City Lovers

This was a pretty tight band. Wonderful musicians with a sound that reminded me of Feist and Sarah Harmer. They were pleasant to listen to, and combined with all the musical acts that we managed to catch, were part of a power house lineup of Ladyfest talent. In fact, after this show, it makes me mad to still see the prevalent attitude of the music industry, wherein a lineup this gender-diverse is still not the norm.

And of course, the artists:

What I love about taking part in events like these is meeting other artists outside of the classroom, making connections both artistically and intellectually and sharing each other's work. I'm proud to say that so far, my [limited] experience in the art world has been collective rather than competitive. Here is where I also found a feminist politic more readily available.

Meagan O'Shea

She is an established Toronto-based performance artist who was participating not only in Ladyfest that night but also Nuit Blanche. Her work "Something Blue" featured a discourse about divorce; particularly from the perspective of women, culminating from her own recent experiences with it. Originally a performance piece, for Ladyfest, O'Shea had only displayed the wedding dress she had designed and made (from various women's dresses) for the show. Sewn into the dress were recordings of women's stories about their divorces for which O'Shea had provided a listening station so that the audience could hear them. It was a beautiful dress, and a moving piece. I wish I could have seen her performing this work, but I made due with the installation.

Nicole Stoffman

I actually spent a bit of time talking with Nicole. (It was a pleasure, and thank you for the song recommendation, if you happen to be reading this!) Her work is titled "The Topless Metropolis" and featured a series of postcards wherein the artist posed topless with some of Toronto's finest graffitti. I took quite a few home with me, so some people should be expecting some racy cards in the mail soon...muahahaha...I really enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek nature of these cards. While totally describing the cheesy nature of the cheese-cake city postcard, Stoffman's cards transformed them into a literally naked appreciation for her city, while owning the control of her body within it. At least, that's how I read it...

That is in fact me being a perv while browsing through Nicole's display...muahahaha...

Tamiko Winter

Winter's work featured a disruption of the nude photograph with splashes of paint. As such, it begs the viewer to make a closer inspection of the poses represented. Aligning her work with an examination of the performance of the model, Winter invites us into some pretty private, and potentially provocative moments. I think it would have been interesting to see how this work could be potentially transformed by a printmaking process such as photo-intaglio, and maybe some poignant text would have forced the viewer into understanding the performance aspect of it a little more, but I do appreciate the amount of herself that Winter put into this work. Definitely a thought provoking work surrounding the constantly contested issues of female nudity.


So that's my review. I had a great time, and it was definitely an important experience for me in terms of learning where my art fits in but also in collective activism. I didn't love how my art had to be displayed, but the circumstances were understandable (though my critical self also disallows me from ever loving how my art comes out totally anyway...all I do is pick out how some parts don't work out as well as others...sigh). Next year, whether I participate or not, I will definitely be making a more valiant effort to attend more of the planned events. Ladyfest forever!

1 comment:

Nicole said...

Dear Maureen,

An enthusiastic and insightful review of the Ladyfest art gallery. Did you ever follow up with Megan about purchasing your art?

Thank you for your review of my postcard rack, "The Topless Metropolis". May I quote you? I am still in the process of submitting my work to local galleries and festivals.

I would like to add that the two matching gold frames full of tourist postcards is another piece called, "Snail Mail: New York, Toronto". It is my answer to Toronto bashers everywhere. I spent 28 days in each city respectively (no reference to the menstrual cycle intended) writing a postcard home to my family (who live in Toronto's Annex neighbourhood) everyday. I discovered that while New York is endlessly fascinating, Toronto is a progressive urban utopia that encourages individual expression and is dense with the living arts. I familiarized myself with it's British heritage and appreciated the fact that although Toronto is a cosmopolis, it is still very close to nature. Although I have lived in Toronto my whole life, I found many new things to write home about. As you can see, the Toronto frame overflows.

Thanks again Maureen. If you ever see the curator of the AGYU in the halls, please give her a postcard on me. She never did get back to me about showing there.

In solidarity,