Monday, 22 November 2010

400 Women, Private View, Shoreditch Town Hall

Thursday a few weeks ago I attended the private view for an incredible show called 400 Women:

An exhibition of new work by 200 artists including Tracey Emin, Maggi Hambling, Swoon and Humphrey Ocean, responding to the widespread murders of women in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.

This ambitious project was conceived by artist Tamsyn Challenger in response to the brutal murder and rape of more than 400 women over a decade in the US border town of Ciudad Juárez and the region of Chihuahua in Mexico. 200 artists have each painted one of the murdered women, confronting us with and safeguarding in our memory the dead and disappeared. The exhibition was curated by the London based curator/writer Ellen Mara De Wachter (pictured below), also known for curating at the 176 Zabludowicz Collection.

A show with extremely dark thought provoking politics/brutal realities... so many faces, so many different deaths and tortures. Beheading, strangulation, rape, bodies dumped naked. It begins to get a little overbearing as each number on the floor beneath each work, relates to a name you can look up in the handout, to learn who is depicted and what their terrible fate was.

A sheer number of faces - so many, too many, what an impact! some sweet and innocent, some unrecognisable, and instead there is a pair of shoes or a locket. Some with barbed wire around their necks others with alter pieces and ornaments.

I found this painting to be a pretty important point. The voice of the voiceless. I was reminded of a song by Rage Against the Machine who have also covered political aspects of Mexico in their songs. "They'll never silence the voice of the voiceless", I think that this show has certainly had an influence in educating people about these attrocities. A politically fuelled voice, speaking for the voiceless. The show was made possible in conjunction with Amnesty International who supplied Tamsyn with both names and photographs of the dead women.

In addition to the faces on the walls, I was surprised to bump into my Swedish friend/artist Louise Hagelberg (whose illustrations I love the most). She is currently assisting a Swedish art Photographer. I was delighted to see her and briefly catchup!

Also there seen with myself here is the lovely Congolese artist Gisèle Nzolameso whose work is also quite activist about the treatment and rape of women in the Congo. Thandiwe Johnstone is an artist in her last year studying at Byam Shaw School of Art who spent many years growing up in Kenya. Her former art teacher was an artist in the show. And last but not least is the beautiful Velevet Zoe Ramos, an artist from Aruba in the Caribbean, who I recently exhibited with in a show in Queen's Wood.

Simon Ould was there sticking out in the crowd with his UV jacket on... Actually I asked him to take the last picture (big mistake) and he started to dick around with the Camera! Typical Simon style!

I had to wrestle my camera back from him!

Leo Cohen, Gisèle Nzolameso, Thandiwe Johnstone.

Gisèle Nzolameso with Thandiwe Johnstone.

Gisèle Nzolameso and Velvet Zoe Ramos.

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