Art projects

Woman go no'gree. Gloria Oyarzabal

Woman go no'gree. Gloria Oyarzabal

SELECTED project BMM2018

Image: Gloria Oyarzabal, Pink girl, 2017 - Imagen de archivo de revista nigeriana de época colonial manipulada. Papel fotográfico Hahnehmulle mate 200gr. 60cm x 40cm

Woman go no’gree is a project that explores the intersections of gender, history and knowledge creation in order to rethink modes of observation.  The exhibition features photographs, archives and one video, as well as a selection of African feminist literature made available to visitors.

Woman go no’gree was inspired by research conducted during a residency at the Art House Foundation in Lagos, Nigeria, and the reading of The Invention of Women: Making an African Sense of Western Gender Discourses by controversial feminist author Oyèrónkẹ́ Oyěwùmí, a decolonising voice that questions the rational theoretical frameworks used to define the parameters of a purportedly universal gender category.

Empires, by their very nature, embody and institutionalise difference, whether between mother country and colony or among colonial subjects. Imperial imagery has permeated popular culture. Gender categories were a kind of “new tradition” of bio-logic that European colonialism institutionalised in most African cultures. It is time rethink gender as a Western construct: a post-colonial mapping of distinctly European views on the feminist movement that has spent the last several decades tackling the “woman question”.

A close look at imperialism, colonisation and other global and local forms of stratification leads to the realisation that gender cannot be separated from social context and other hierarchical systems. The three concepts that have been the traditional pillars of feminism—woman, gender and sisterhood—can only be understood in light of the patriarchal nuclear family from which they sprang, a family model that is by no means universal.

Can we assume that social differences revolve around biological sexual difference in all societies?

In African societies, is the male body viewed as normative and, consequently, a channel for the exercise of power?

The racialisation of knowledge is a by-product of Euro-centrism: Europe is represented as the wellspring of knowledge and Europeans, by extension, as thinkers. Moreover, male privilege as a cornerstone of the European ethos is built into the culture of the modern era. What if the models of the modern era lead us to a new perception of the “other”?

Gender is first and foremost a sociocultural construct. Perhaps history will eventually be able to move past social and symbolic assignments based solely on gender difference and expand the spectrum to include other factors of identity construction.

Gloria Oyarzabal

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