“I am no thing” art by Julia Willms (glass on wall)
UTRECHT – A few weeks have passed by since the Feminist Art Festival named “The Rebellious Muse” took place in Amsterdam.
Coconut oil in my hair, Adele in the background and candles everywhere to fight this cold. I sit in my room collecting my thoughts about that beautiful event.
I remember when I first met Jolien Spigt, one of the founders of The Feminist Club which are who made the Feminist Art Festival happen. I was waltzing through the streets of Amsterdam with my friends Alma and Chrislene when we reached a little sign that said
“For feminist alcoholics, open mic night”. We looked at each other and nodded. We had to walk down some stairs and ended up in a little cave under those popular Amsterdam Canals.
It was so packed, so hot, I felt like a sardine squeezed in a can. We didn’t leave though,
instead Alma found one of her friends in the pool of people and told her that I was a poet and I would love to perform. I was intimidated as I had not prepared anything, but I braved my little Caribbean heart and went for it. The crowd loved me, I loved them back, I got that spark you feel inside when you know you’ve worked the stage. Subsequently, a few days later Jolien posted in the event page on Facebook something along the lines of “Does anyone know the last name of the Yakari girl that performed?”. Someone tagged me and that’s how we became friends. From there on, the rest is history. I was present at every single open mic they hosted ever since.
Erasure of women
The fact that women are often erased in the art world and don’t get nearly as much respect as their male counterparts was the inspiration behind the whole festival. The art world is very white, male and cis-gendered. The feminist art festival most certainly made a statement against that point and made its audience look at the art world with a critical reflection.
In their perspective, in society women are conditioned and are expected to be highly expressive and emotional beings, while men are expected to not show emotions.
There for, men in the arts always have the upper hand as they are praised for letting their guard down and look pass their masculinity.
Sisterhood and safe spaces
When women talk about their frustrations with the system, they are labeled as angry.
When men do it, they are revolutionary heroes who should be supported.
There for The Feminist Club puts emphasis on the importance of creating a safe space
for women to talk their concerns free from labels and judgements.Where men form brotherhood women, form competition. But when women put aside all the social conditioning that they are taught to project unto one another, powerful things happen. Feminism remains an important tool in fighting back the oppression of women in society. The Feminist Club however, does not limit itself to only a female audience and since they are men who are feminists too, the club remains with their door open to males who want to join the movement and conversation. After all, the mission is to move towards equality amongst the sexes and not separation.
Feminism and intersectionality
It must have been about 4 years ago when I started to call myself a feminist.
My spoken word touches feminist ideals because I was raised by a woman alone and I’ve grown to respect everything my mother did to raise me.Very intimately, I’ve always been hesitant to perform my craft of work in Holland. Sometimes, I perform for an audience where no one looks a little bit like me. I think it is challenging as a woman of color to narrate your story to people who can’t identify with your struggles. I get to venues and feel like a darn sunflower standing alone in a field of roses.
My poetry is often about my struggles with my hair, my race, my ethnicity. What it means to be black and Latina at the same time, in a world where everyone wants their Latinas to look Italian. The caribbean,where I come from, is very far from here. However at the Feminist Art Festival, I felt very safe, I felt at home. I give kudos to The Feminist Club for creating an event that was so inclusive of all women, all body types, all races. From a little pop up market of books dedicated to intersectional feminism, to lecturers of diverse ethnic groups. From vanilla, to mocca, to that beautiful dark chocolate, all shades of women were present as artists as well.
(printed posters that were available at the Feminist Art Festival)
The audience at the Feminist Art Festival, played a key role in how I felt as an artist there.
Not because I made them cry, or I got plenty of hugs after my performance,
but more so because I felt accepted, because I felt the way my work was received.
My heart was beaming with pride of just existing within that moment. Somehow, the organizers managed to grab the most open minded people in Holland and put them all together in one place. The ambiance in that little hallway in Kunstweg, Amsterdam was one for the books. Imagine being in a white room full of vanilla scented candles, that’s what it felt like. If feminism and spaces to discuss feminism aren’t intersectional If they do not create space for all women to coexist in peace, is it really feminism? Audre Lorde said it best. “No woman is free, until all women are free”.
The Feminist Club means business, they mean true feminism and I highly look forward to most events from them in the future.
Artist Nicole Eklund performing “Goodbye, love you”
at Rebellious Muse Festival