Gallery tackles rape
Off the Beaten Path a hard-hitting exhibit that forces you to feel
Don’t let any outspoken Republican senators fool you, rape is a horrible thing. It is an intolerable act that has caused all kinds of damage and turmoil to victims for the rest of their lives.
For most, when we feel pain, suffering, anguish and turmoil, the natural response it to close our eyes and separate from the discomfort.
The Art Gallery of Calgary’s exhibition, Off the Beaten Path: Violence, Women and Art, has another idea, as it forces us to open our eyes to witness and feel the hardships faced by women around the world.
Disturbing as the exhibit is, it is an eye-opening display which should make people realize that if they feel uncomfortable looking at the art, they can have no grasp on the overwhelming effects of being a victim of gender-based violence.
Alison Anderson, coordinator of visitor services at the Gallery, has strong feelings about hosting Off the Beaten Path.
“A show of this caliber is awesome to have here,” Anderson said. “We’re excited to have a show that’s going to make people feel impacted. It’s not just aesthetically pleasing.”
When asked what the gallery hopes to accomplish with the exhibition, she said the intent is to “create awareness of violence against women and how it can take different forms. We hope to make people aware and get people active about it.”
Upon entering the main gallery, the first piece you’ll notice is hanging installation of three giant brooms and the accompanying video piece by Susan Plum, called Luz y Solidaridad, which is about the missing women of Juarez, Mexico.
The brooms mimic the image of ponytails, and it forces the viewer to ponder the roles which oppress women around the world.
Across from it is a photograph by Hatoum Mona labelled Over My Dead Body. A woman with an overdramatically stern expression stares at the plastic soldier on her nose who has his gun raised at her.
The whimsicalness and vintage feel are interplayed to demonstrate the conflict between the two characters, raising the question of who is stating “over my dead body”?
Downstairs in the tall gallery are three tribute-esque pieces by Miwa Yanagi from the “Grandmother series.” Kwanyi, with her glowing eyes and her vast array of books, is sure to leave a lasting impression.
In the studio NO by Feroze Nana, Maimuna is front and center. It’s a white veil with red spots put over a mannequin that draws attention to the barbaric ritual of bride-burning. Behind it is an area where people are free to write or draw on a card whatever they wish and tie it to a tree after experiencing the exhibit.
The top gallery plays host to Marina Ambramovic’s video Balkan Erotic Epic: Banging the Skull, in which a shirtless woman with hair over her face bangs a skull between her breasts. The sound is haunting and painful, and it follows you wherever you go in the room.
There is a piece by Lisa Bjorne Linnert called Breath which includes a video and three images. The video is of a woman making eye contact and alternating between yelling and silence, and the images are rayographs of the artist breathing and screaming into the paper. It sheds light on the power and uniqueness of each and every woman’s voice.
Listed above are just some pieces, but there are many more which are just incredible. The Art Gallery of Calgary did an excellent job of highlighting each piece placed in their usual modern squares.
The exhibition is eye-opening. Some would say that violence against women is a topic that we hear about too much. The truth is until it stops, it can’t be heard enough.
The vast amount of locations each artist hails from is admirable and illustrates how much of a global issue this mistreatment is.
Entrance to the gallery doesn’t have a fee, they only ask for a donation, so there is no reason to not view the exhibition. It’s only there until March 6 then it’s off to Cape Town, South Africa, so get there while you can.
Become aware, take action and open your eyes.