Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Change of title for Shape & Situate zine

Thanks to very useful conversation with artist Meredith Stern, the subtitle of 'Shape & Situate' zine will be changed as of the next issue (#6) to hopefully clarify the scope and meaning of the project.

The zine will now be called, ‘Shape & Situate: Posters of Inspirational Women in Europe’.

This change in terminology has been made to reduce any misunderstandings of the project, or of my former use of the term ‘European’. I wish to distance the project from any connection to the understanding of ‘European’ as an ethnicity or identity. My use of the term ‘European’ has always been a geographical one, but I understand that it may not have been read as that by all who have viewed the project, and I do not wish to perpetuate any misunderstandings that this is a racist project.

My use of the term 'European' in this project comes from an understanding that Europe is made up of extremely multi-cultural societies, and that Europe includes a wide diversity of voices, cultures and ethnicities.

I was not using 'European' as a short hand for white, or using the term 'European' as a way to erase the ethnicity/race of the subjects in the zine.
With this project, the term 'European' has always been used in a geographical sense (without, hopefully succumbing to any forms of Nationalism) rather than ethnicity; celebrating the women that live (or have lived) in this continent surrounding me.

It is not my intention whatsoever to eliminate or silence the voices of women of colour from this project.  Women of colour have been instrumental to feminisms in Europe, and I believe it is important that projects such as Shape & Situate recognize the importance of all women, across all ethnicities, classes, dis/abilities, ages, and beyond.

The term 'European' that I have ascribed to this project has a meaning of 'people who live in Europe', as opposed to 'people from white heritage'.
By writing this post, I am hoping to blatantly clarify this.

The zine has focussed on European women as a way to document women in our locales and communities who are omitted from a lot of mainstream history. With this project Ihe poster-makers have managed to capture posters from various corners of Europe; for example Belgian, Swedish, Romanian, Norweigan women (etc etc) who I have never personally seen documented in social history art projects previously (as often the history of radical women is kept in localised knowledge banks, which I have been lucky enough to tap into with this project (with the help of the poster makers), and illuminated many darkened corners of knowledge on inspirational women from across Europe).
This was the intent behind making the project about European women solely.

I was influenced in many ways by projects such as 'Celebrate Peoples History' and 'Inspired Agitators' (amongst other social history art projects), but wanted to create a version of these projects that meant more to me, as somebody from Europe, who was regularly seeing and hearing more of the important social history from the USA/Canada/The Americas than from my own (geographical) communites and societies whose history I knew was there, yet in many ways has so-far been undiscovered or undocumented in global social history art in many ways.

Women of colour are an important part of this history. I have no intention of creating any ethnic or racial boundaries on this project, just geographical ones (for the reasons noted above).

I'm gutted that after 5 issues of the zine people may have all this time thought that I was creating a zine focussed on white heritage/white ethnicity, when my intentions were anything but;. I'm hoping a change in the title may clarify this.

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