Relief. That’s how women around the world responded when they could finally come forward about decades of sexual harassment, discrimination and assault with last year's #MeToo movement. Just earlier this week, actresses including Zoë Kravitz and Meryl Streep wore black at the 2018 Golden Globes as a symbol of protest.
Yet the space for women to be seen and heard unapologetically and on their own terms shows no signs of extending to the art world. Little seems to have changed a century after the nude female form scandalised Parisians, with Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani’s exhibition shut down within hours of opening at the Berthe Weill Gallery. Even in the 1970s, works from sex-positive female artists were branded too“sexually explicit” to be put on show.
While female art doesn’t quite elicit the same response today, safe spaces for female artists to express themselves completely uncensored are few and far between. It’s this that led curator, illustrator and London College of Fashion student Florence Given to organise and curate all-female art exhibition Girls, Uninterrupted in conjunction with Creative Debuts. “We’re all so used to censoring our art and photography online and it just feels wrong censoring something which you intended to capture,” she tells me. “I wanted to create a completely safe space for young women to express themselves uncensored and uninterrupted.”
Expect 25 emerging artists from around the globe to showcase works spanning Islamophobia, female sexuality and Trump. Portland-based photographer Kat Miller’s portrait “Zahara in the Nude” is unapologetic about not conforming to Eurocentric beauty ideals, while Canadian-Pakistani multimedia artist and ‘feminist Muslimah’ Aima Niqabae channels her frustrations at Muslim women’s representations in the mainstream.
From women still having to find creative ways of posting their nipples on Instagram or face getting blocked to sexual harassment survivors increasingly shunning fears of coming forward as testament to the #MeToo movement, Girls, Uninterrupted couldn’t have come at a more poignant time.
Ahead of the exhibition opening, we spoke to five of the artists about why work for and by women still has the power to shock, how a post-Weinstein world has impacted their art and why all-female shows are needed more than ever.