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Creative project launches in Ramallah highlighting representations of women in revolution

By Rhiannon F. - December 13, 2017
Section: [Main News] [Features]
Tags: [Palestinian Art] [Palestinian women]

'On Women in Revolutions’, a four-part creative research project investigating worldwide leading women figures of twentieth-century revolutions, launched in Ramallah on Monday.

The project explores generational values of revolution through an academic seminar, photography-based exhibition, a series of film screenings and a contemporary painting and installation exhibition.

Director of Public Program at the A.M. Qattan Foundation and curator of the project, Yazid Anini believes there is no true or one representation of women in revolution.

“It depends on where you stand ideologically and how you want to frame it,” Anini told Palestine Monitor.

Anini said part of the problem of historical representation of women in revolutions is the political or individual way of constructing the images through personal interest or agenda to promote empathy to a certain cause.

On this point, the icon of Leila Khaled, the first woman to hijack an airplane, can be discussed, and her promotion through the Palestinian Liberation Organisation’s (PLO) “project” at the time.

“Why not other women, who didn’t hijack airplanes, and play even more important roles?” Anini stated.

He went on to say the liberation movement was looked at through the particular lens of freedom fighters, at the time.

It could also be questioned whether women can be promoted as powerful or revolutionary without acting in a traditionally masculine role.

“How women were used at that time by the patriarchal regime, they wanted to have the empathy of the West [as well as] the Palestinian cause and the liberation movement.”

“Her achievement came from a contextual base, of men allowing her to take that leadership,” Anini added.

Women overall tend to be silenced or marginalised in the histories of revolutions, partly perhaps it is the dominant and often patriarchal society who writes them.

“It’s part of who writes history, when women need to be highlighted and when not. My focus is on … marginalised histories that need to be excavated.”

The 'On Women in Revolutions’ seminar was held at Bir Zeit University on Monday, providing a theoretical aspect on how academics look at women in revolution and what representation they’ve been exposed to.

Anini said the academic papers discussed go beyond the victimhood of women addressed “time and time again” and instead focused on issues and “stories of marginalised women who have done something that is not part of the major academic discourse in the world.”

The exhibition at Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center is based on a photographic re-enactment of militarised women juxtaposed with the typical representation of the women in the 60s and 70s.

Within the exhibition a series of interviews with women in the Palestinian Civil Police force is also displayed.

“It is surprising how they look at the patriarchal framing [within the force] and the way they differentiate themselves physically and hierarchically,” Anini said.

Within the Cultural Centre there is also a series of print outs from the Google archive on revolution.

“Neoliberal definitions of revolution [are shown through the search results]; technological, love, other notions,” Anini explained.

Anini is surprised by the classical depiction of women in revolution by contemporary artists shown in the Gallery One hosted section of the project.

“They went to iconic figures identified by the Palestinian Liberation project, they don’t look at marginalised stories or women that were as important at the time. It’s very limited the way they research.”

For the final section of the project, film screenings shown in various venues including diaries of women under colonial regimes and in prisons around the world including Mexico and Central America.

'On Women in Revolutions’ is organised by the A. M. Qattan Foundation with the Institute of Women’s Studies at Birzeit University, Gallery One and Ramallah Cinema Club and runs until January 2.


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