Remembering that women did not have the right to vote in this country until a century ago brings about a sense of vertigo, but also a certain militant pride, a reminder that our work doesn’t go unnoticed. In the current political climate, where every step forward has to be negotiated courageously against the wider powers that be, invoking and paying homage to some of the passion that earned that voting right could not be more important.
Reworking the Suffragettes’ feel for the visual, as part of PROCESSIONS Artichoke have commissioned 100 Years 100 Banners programme, a partnership between 100 organisations across the UK, working with female, female-identifying and non-binary artists to take that spirit further, updating it to express modern-day concerns by conducting workshops within the chosen communities.
From Cornwall to the Outer Hebrides, the variety of partners chosen aims to lead towards an accurate representation of what identifying as female in today’s Britain means. Aligning ourselves to the celebrations, we caught up with queer visual artist Rudy Loewe to discuss using creativity as a gateway to history.
Can you talk about your creative process and how your work fits into conversations around the representation of race and queerness in contemporary culture?
Within my work I try to explore different kinds of social dynamics that I am thinking about, which includes race and queerness. I want to contribute to the existing conversations that are happening, surrounding for example, representations of gender and bodies. It is important to me that my work reflects my politics and shows the kind of playfulness and self empowerment that sometimes can be restricted in society. I also often work with histories, such as queer black histories, and working them into comic form, which in some way feels like they might become more accessible.
How has art helped you to take control of the narrative around race and queerness?
I don’t necessarily think that art has allowed me to take control of the narrative, because there are still so many political influences around who gets to show their work and where, who is being paid and for what. But I think that my practice allows me to create images of the kinds of bodies I would like to see. For example, drawing black non binary people who look confident in themselves somehow makes me feel more empowered too.
How do you incorporate accurate representations of this multitude of experiences across the spectrum?
I really enjoy including different kinds of bodies and identities in my work, because I want to show that as queer people, we don’t have a singular homogenous experience. I like to think about different kinds of people and the ways that this can be incorporated into the work in order to counteract the single story.
Can you talk a little bit about the responsibility of the media and artists with regard to promoting authenticity and expanding conversations on intersectionality?
I think a good start to having more intersectional representations and narratives begins with opening the door to a more diverse range of creators. It will always feel more authentic when the starting point comes from someone who can share in that experience. But on an individual level I think artists also need to be critical about what kinds of bodies and narratives we include in our work and why.
Why is Processions an important project?
With the centenary anniversary of the first British women getting the vote, I think it’s important at this point in time to use the Processions project as a way of updating the conversation around the struggles that women face. For example, Processions includes trans women and non binary people and I think that this is very important that our struggles and experiences are included in this. So I see Processions as a way of updating the feminist narrative, in a way that needs to be done to move forward.
What will your contribution be to the event?
For the project I have been collaborating with Womankind Worldwide to create a banner which will be carried in the London procession on Sunday June 10.
Can you tell our readers what to expect from your banner in collaboration with Womankind Worldwide?
The main focus of the banner is the kinds of women that Womankind Worldwide support, who are doing super important work but are not necessarily well known figures. We are also working with a slogan that comes from Womankind Worldwide. I think it’s going to look great!
How to take part: Register at www.processions.co.uk to join one of the four processions in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London on Sunday 10th June 2018. #PROCESSIONS2018