Het Bos
Ankerrui 5-7, Antwerp

‘In Mourning and In Rage’ (1977, 8’) - Suzanne Lacy and Leslie Labowitz

In December 1977, Los Angeles waited in suspense as each new victim of the “Hillside Strangler” was broadcast on the evening news and in print publications. Soon there were ten women, strangled and dumped on the sides of hillsides, a disposal that characterized each crime, hence named by the news outlets “Hillside Strangler.” Media sensationalized these victims’ lives, contributing to a climate of fear and superstition. In spite of a growing body of literature on the politics of crimes against women, stories focused instead on the randomness and inevitability of the violence, the life circumstances of the women victims, and the personality characteristics of the anonymous murderer. In Mourning and In Rage was a media performance offering an alternative interpretation of the case that included a feminist analysis of violence. Participants from the Woman’s Building, the Rape Hotline Alliance, and the City Council joined with the feminist community and families of the victims in creating a public ritual of rage as well as grief.

A motorcade of sixty women followed a hearse to City Hall, where news media reporters waited. Ten very tall women robed in black like 19th century mourners climbed from the hearse. At the front steps of City Hall, the performers each announced a different form of violence against women, connecting these as part of a fabric of social consent. After each of the ten performers spoke, the women from the motorcade, now surrounding the City Hall steps and forming a Greek chorus, yelled “In memory of our sisters, we fight back!” The tenth woman, clothed in red, stepped forward to represent the capacity for self-defense. City Council members voiced support to the press and the Rape Hotline Alliance pledged to start self-defense classes. Singer-songwriter Holly Near created “Fight Back” the night before and sang it a cappella in the City Plaza. The performance reached its target with extensive coverage on local and statewide news.

Participating artists include Bia Lowe and women from the Woman’s Building. Photographs by Maria Karras.nition of gender, her sexual orientation and its impact on her surroundings.

‘Less Lethal Fetishes’ (2020, 9’) - Thirza Cuthand
Cuthand uses a latent gas mask fetish as a jumping off point for looking at her role as a participant in the Whitney Biennial during a contentious year for the museum which had a war profiteer on the board. Faced with calls to withdraw, Cuthand talks about the considerations she had for trying to come up with a way to protest while also being implicated in Kander’s artwashing. Using the gas mask as a potential protest image, she also discusses visiting Chemical Valley, a site in southern Ontario where 40% of Canada’s petrochemical industry lies, and how her visit also left her implicated in artwashing petrochemical money.

‘As if biting Iron’ (2019, 7’) - Stephanie Rizaj

Questioning perceptions of labour and futility through the absence of the body, a set of constructed body straps, bearing the phrase “Struggle itself is enough to fill a heart”, laid the foundations for Rizaj’s performative sculptures.On returning to her familial Kosovo, Rizaj turned such Sisyphean concerns on their head as she refused to carry the weight of the felt patriarchy and instead followed her impulse to ask: “What if women could move a house?”

In “As If Biting Iron” (2019), Rizaj uses the medium of film to challenge this very question as we witness the walls of a brutalist building, situated in the forests of Kosovo, being moved by the forces of over 100 anonymous women. Pushing against the deadweight of the concrete, the burden of oppression literally and figuratively comes undone. Rizaj’s will to collective refusal not only affirms the potency of female unification, but implements a confidence that is palpable. (Michelle Son)