Reading Time: 3 minutes
A Marigold Instant © Alia Romagnoli.
This Women’s History Month, artists Eliza Hatch and Bee Demonstrates present their curatorial debut, alongside a programme associated with workshops and panel discussions
When speaking about a distressing or troubling experience, perhaps you have been labelled “attention-seeking”? Or even when others have became available about their problems, have you ever described them as being “dramatic”? Historically, these are words which have been used to oppress women and individuals of marginalised genders whenever describing their struggles. An organization exhibition opening tomorrow strives to reclaim these terms. Hysterical will present 18 artists – women and people of marginalised genders – that are using art as a device for advocacy. The charity exhibition, which takes place at no format Gallery in Deptford, is raising cash for charity partners UN Women UK and Mermaids.
The artists were preferred from an open call of over 800 submissions. Showing photographers include one of Uk Journal of Photography ’s 2021 Ones to Watch, Tayo Addekunle , Female in Focus winner Jodie Bateman , and Alia Romagnoli. Other exhibitors include filmmaker Florence Winter Hill, multimedia designer Eleanor West, and material artist Florence Poppy Deary. Open for just one week, the particular exhibition runs alongside the workshop hosted by Grrrl Zine Fair , which includes speakers for example Gina Martin, Prishita Maheshwari-Aplin, Cathy Reay, Tori Western world, Maxine Williams and India Ysabel.
Two performers, who are also activists, put together the event. Photographer Eliza Hatch is the founder of Cheer up Luv , a photo series and on the internet platform dedicated to re-telling stories of sexual harassment. Bee Illustrates is a queer, non-binary, illustrator who harnesses their own practice to educate and inform on topics like feminism, mental health and queerness. The pair had been “internet friends” for a while but met in real life in October 2021. Sharing many mutual passions – art, feminism, activism – a conversation about curating an exhibition soon turned into a reality. “It proceeded to go from zero to one hundred – from never meeting before to messaging each day, ” says Eliza. “It was a quick but beautiful artistic romance. ”
“We’re often navigating that space in between online activism, real world activism, and art activism. It is like murky waters occasionally. We wanted to bring that out of the social media bubble”
The brief for the open call was simple: to submit function that centred around local community activism and uplifting marginalised voices. “By the nature of what we both do, and exactly how we both exist on the internet, I don’t think it could have been upon anything else, ” says Bee. “It was inevitable mainly because so much of our lives are invested talking about these issues. ”
Eliza adds that they wanted to make an exhibition that a new voice and a cause. “We’re always navigating that room between online activism, real-world activism, and art activism. It’s kind of like murky oceans sometimes. We wanted to provide that out of the social media bubble that we’re used to, ” she says.
Both Eliza and Bee understand that during Women’s Background Month, institutions, brands, plus organisations can fall into a trap of showing the “one-dimensional” version of womanhood. “While I may not determine as a woman, it’s important that we still have all sexes involved in these spaces… We wanted to encompass intersecting ideas, ” says Bee. The result is sure to be dazzling, as well as a testament to the power of artwork to inform, communicate and encourage positive change.