Public Art Project Addresses Gender-Based Street
Harassment In A Big Way
Women's Empowerment, Women's Empowerment, Stop Telling Women To Smile, Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, Art News, Female Artists, Gender-Based Street Harassment, Gender-Based Violence, Harassment, Kickstarter, Stop Telling Women To Smile Kickstarter, Street Harassment, Violence Against Women,
Most people who've spent time in a major city are
familiar with the uninvited cat call. Whether you have been the target
or you've watched the event unfold, many of us have heard one individual
or another solicit a passerby -- most often a woman -- to "give them a
little smile" or "cheer up, baby."
While some may combat the unsolicited attention with a cold stare, Brooklyn-based artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh has an alternative way of addressing the problem. In a project titled "Stop Telling Women to Smile," Fazlalizadeh places portraits of women in public spaces, encouraging victims of gender-based street harassment to fight back.
The series began last year when Fazlalizadeh was finishing a mural
project in Philadelphia. She'd been contemplating how to address the
issue of street harassment for some time, having experienced years of
daily occurrences herself. After considering the medium of oil painting
-- her primary practice -- she eventually decided to channel her ideas
through public art.
Fazlalizadeh recruited friends and colleagues to help make STWTS a
reality, drawing her subjects in strong, even confrontational poses that
are meant to "humanize" the faces of women in the public space. The
portraits are accompanied by lines of text that speak to the harassers
and offenders who aren't often called out. "My name is not Baby," one
caption reads. "Women are not seeking your validation," quips another.
"I asked [friends] if they'd like to participate in the project, and
all of them having street harassment as a consistent issue in their
lives agreed and were happy to be a part of it," Fazlalizadeh explained
to The Huffington Post. "For most of them, we sat and had a conversation
about their experiences and what it is they'd like to say back to
harassers. I used those conversations as inspiration for the text
underneath their portraits."
Fazlalizadeh first posted her drawings in Philadelphia and Brooklyn, but has since created a Kickstarter campaign
to help fund a broader endeavor. She wants to travel to Baltimore,
Boston, Atlanta, San Francisco, Miami, Kansas City, Los Angeles and
Chicago to meet and draw women living in the rest of the country, using
sites like Hollaback and StopStreetHarassment.org to help navigate the various communities.
Thus far she has primarily focused on the experience of women, but
she's open to expanding the project to men who have encountered street
harassment based on their gender or sexual orientation as well.
"As the work gained attention, I realized how many different types of
people can relate to this and have stories to tell. I've had
conversations with men at STWTS related events who wanted to talk about
their experiences with street harassment," Fazlalizadeh recounted. "I
know it happens, and it's important, and it's something I may take on in
the future. Right now though, I want to focus on women -- of varying
backgrounds -- to really tackle the ways in which our bodies are
sexualized and mistreated in the public space."
The STWTS Kickstarter campaign has 26 days to raise the $15,000
Fazlalizadeh seeks. According to the site, a portion of the funds will
be allocated to working with a filmmaker to document the project.
As for those individuals who might not believe that gender-based
street harassment is a problem, Fazlalizadeh had the following to say:
"There are always those who want to tell women that their
experiences are not valid or not important whenever they speak up. For
me, as a black woman, this is particularly true. Wanting the basic right
of feeling comfortable and safe and not sexualized as I walk out of my
house is very much worth prioritizing."
"There's also the point that gender-based street harassment easily
lends itself to more conspicuous issues such as rape and domestic
violence," she added. "It's a matter of control over women's bodies. And
it's a serious issue to address."
Edited by femmefatale85 - Sep 12 2013 at 12:53am