A feminist review of urban art: creative criticism against discrimination
Despite its growing expansion and acceptance, urban art continues to be a masculinized field in which women creators are still a minority in the most relevant creation and exhibition events. A few years ago, at 7H Cooperativa Cultural, we started a research process aimed to respond this systematic invisibility and to challenge the discourse, dominant between academicians and professionals of the sector, that justify it with the excuse of the supposed inexistence of women artists in the discipline or the also false "lower quality" of their works.
On the contrary, our study process was guided by a strong convincement: there are women who create or are interested in urban art, and their work have the same value and deserve the same level of respect and recognition as those signed by men. In 2017, our process of study led to the creation of the artistic-educational programme Elas tamén Pintan, a feminist urban art laboratory.
This project aims to raise awareness among young people about gender inequalities in this creative area and provide young women with a safe and free space for training and creation. After the success of the initiative, recognized with the Begoña Caamaño á Acción Cultural pola Igualdade de Xénero Award in 2018, we wanted to deepen the rewriting of the history of the discipline in a collective way and from a feminist perspective through the organization of the first edition of Delas Fest.
This feminist festival of urban and contextual art took place in December 2019 in the Galician municipalities of Ames, Teo, and Santiago de Compostela thanks to the support of various public administrations and private sponsors. The festival programme, which involved one hundred participants, combined artistic interventions with formative-experimental workshops and colloquiums of analysis and debate.
The great satisfaction generated by the event, expressed by everybody who was involved, has encouraged us to try to organize a second edition. Now, the goals are to strengthen networks and widen the spaces for dialogue built through the program Elas tamén Pintan and the first edition of Delas Fest. Besides, the celebration of a new edition is fundamental to consolidate the project in the Galician cultural agenda, and consequently, to avoid the loss of everything previously achieved, both at the level of construction of networking and contacts and public attention raised.
A crowdfunding for II Delas Fest: collectivity in front of the crisis
In terms of organization, we have enormous advantages to face this challenge due to the experience accumulated during our five years in the cultural management field, and especially planning and carrying out the I Delas Fest. However, we have serious difficulties to have the necessary resources to turn the project into reality.
On the one hand, we know that the funds that we could obtain from administrations and sponsors will be insufficient to cover the total cost of the project. On the other hand, we are limited and subordinated to an uncertain and complex horizon. The coronavirus crisis, causing the declaration of the state of alarm and the consequent cancellation and postponing of activities, has severely affected our annual planning, both in financial terms as referring to the festival management. Therefore, in order to make II Delas Fest real, this crowdfunding campaign is essential due to extension of support and cooperation networks, dissemination, and link building that promotes.
Through this campaign, we are trying to get, at least, the minimum funds (€ 8.900) to be able to organize the festival in its smallest version: the one based on the realization of four artistic interventions. Concerning the development of the whole project, this amount only represents 21% of the total cost. To be able to cover all the material, infrastructure, and salary expenses of the II Delas Fest, developing all the activities, we would need to obtain the amount defined as optimal (€42.405). It's important to note that we defined the budget before the pandemic, so our planning could suffer imbalances due to the incertain impact of coronavirus in the coming months. In any case, we are working to ensure that all the proposed activities follow the health and safety protocols established by the competent authorities.
The project is conceived to put Galicia in the vanguard of diverse urban art with a gender perspective and aims to renew this commitment with a longer, more extensive and diversified edition. For achieving it, we want to enlarge the number of municipalities involved (from three to four); to extend the duration of the festival (from one to four weeks), and to increase the number of potential participants of the activities.
To reach these goals, we aspire to celebrate the festival in the rural zones of the municipalities of Ames, Teo, and Brión and in Santiago de Compostela between August 24th and September 20th 2020. As well as in its first edition, the programme is based on diversity, cooperation and the conception of urban art as a contextual art, that is, as the art in which the interventions try to relate to both the socio-historical context and the physical space that will accommodate the final work.
Consequently, the festival will consist of the following activities:
- Artistic interventions. The work of the festival participants in charge of the artistic interventions will take place in four locations. Therefore, each of the municipalities involved in the project will host a mural or installation.
- Teambuilding days. Before starting their work, the invited artists will meet with at least one association or collective from the municipality where they will be working. These meetings aim to bring the history and idiosyncrasy of the social and cultural context closer to the artists, encouraging a creative dialogue with the territory and its people.
- Creation workshops. The creation workshops, coordinated by the invited artists, will take place in the four participating municipalities and parallel to the festival's interventions. To offer proposals to audiences with different profiles, two of the workshops will be focus on people without previous knowledge who want to start in graffiti and mural techniques. The other two workshops will be aimed at those interested in perfecting their knowledge and skills of mural and contextual interventions.
- Sessions of debate. We will hold a session of collective analysis to reinforce the construction of safe spaces for dialogue. It will consist of two talks (one by the artistswho participate in the festival and one by an urban art curator) and a dialogue-debate between several artists from Galicia and abroad.
- Creative improvisation meeting. We want to celebrate a creative jam session to conclude the debate’s day. This open meeting aims to create a space for coexistence and artistic creation in a safe, relaxed, and horizontal environment. In any case, both this meeting and the talks will only be possible if we get the necessary funds to develop the project in its full version.
Waarom is dit belangrijk
The importance of this proposal bases on a confluence of factors. The first and fundamental one is that the maintenance of the conditions of discrimination and inequality suffered by women in urban art, both in symbolic and material level, forces us to continue articulating critical and transforming responses. The priority goal of the II Delas Fest is to continue deepening the collective rewriting of urban art from actions with a theoretical and deliberative approach as well as a practical, participatory, and experimental perspective. All of these will address and confront the conditioning factors, which are mostly obstacles that gender imposes on artistic work in public space.
The following objectives express this aspiration:
- To fight stereotypes and gender discrimination against women artists by making visible their contribution to urban art through street exhibitions.
- To generate spaces for analysis, dialogue, and exchange of experiences aimed at establishing collaboration and empowerment networks among the participants that contribute to the fight against gender inequalities in the sector.
- To provide references, tools, and creative techniques that may be useful for personal development or enlarge professional profile to young people and, especially, to younger or non-professional artist women.
- To promote the democratization of expression in the public space and to decentralize resources and cultural proposals usually destined to the urban context towards the rural one, facilitating that its population can participate in the contemporary art.
- To transform the towns and rural areas of our country by an egalitarian approach, supporting the occupation of public spaces by women with their experiences and creations.
- To turn our territory into an international reference for feminist and contextual urban art, promoting the image of Galicia as a cultural destination associated with equality.
The festival, created to develop with a collective dimension, is structured around a program that guarantees the plurality of profiles in terms of age, occupations, and interests. Among potential beneficiaries who we hope to involve as active subjects in the festival are:
- Local groups and associations, considerated fundamental agents in the artistic transformation of public spaces as hosts for the artists.
- Professional artists, , such as muralists, illustrators or graffiti artists, and urban art enthusiasts who want to approach the techniques of this field or to make progress on their practical skills.
- Producers of urban art festivals and technical staff with skills in the field of culture, both from public institutions and private entities.
- Art students and similar areas or students with interest in street art.
- Feminist activists interested in acquiring theoretical and technical tools to intervene in the street as support for artistic and political expression.
- People with artistic interests and/or interested in approaching urban art from a gender perspective.
7H Cooperativa Cultural is a multidisciplinary team of workers trained and experienced in the areas of cultural management, communication, education, and art. The diversity of artistic and professional profiles of the promoting Delas Fest group (in which there are workers with studies and experience in art history and curating, illustration, graphic design, audiovisual production, photography, communication, etc.), guarantees the enriching coexistence of approaches in all phases of the project.
Our experience as a cooperative company specialized in projects, activities, exhibitions, and artistic-cultural events from their initial planning to their final execution supports our technical capacity to manage initiatives of Delas Fest dimension.
Our organization values, work dynamics, and aspirations are firmly rooted in the territory and in the idiosyncrasy of where we live. Thus, none of our projects detaches from the socio-historical reality. On the contrary, each one of them responds and relates to the stories and experiences, conflicts, and needs of the people and places where we work. Consequently, throughout our five years of existence, we have worked in favor of social transformation through collective creation dynamics based on the active and inclusive participation of people, whom we consider as subjects with capacity for artistic expression and, also, not passive audiences.