NEoN is supporting this year's 16 days of Activism campaign by presenting work and creative practices that use digital tools or comment on today’s complex digital relationships. In particular, we are interested in work that highlights how our digital entanglement, digital coding and the online spaces we create can reflect just about every social topic, such as freedom, compliance, censorship, gender, and everyday hostilities.
We have invited six activists to contribute to this campaign by writing an article about their stories, their jobs or their own campaigns.
Content warning - This article contains mentions of Gender Based Violence, misogynistic micro-aggressions, discrimination, harassment, sexual abuse and everyday sexism.
UNICEF states that ‘Gender-based violence (GBV) is the most pervasive yet least visible human rights violation in the world’, despite WHO reporting that 1 in 3 women will experience violence in their life.
Last year I launched a website to help make the invisible seen. Inspired by conversations I had at the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence 2021 campaign and my own lived experiences, I began to believe that if we as a society could blatantly see all of our individual experiences of GBV, it would no longer be possible to turn a blind eye and collective change could take place. I decided to combine my art practice with activism, hoping to encourage empathy and interaction with the sharing, documenting, and battling of gendered experiences.
Once submissions were screened, they were added to one big, public, interactive map. A vast number of different locations were logged, demonstrating that incidents of GBV do not solely take place down dark alleyways and in nightclubs as the media often likes to fixate on, but alarmingly occur all around us. Incidents such as misogynistic micro-aggressions, discrimination, harassment, and worse, were reported in; the medical sector, in our hospitals and GP offices; at our employers, from our first interviews right up to the most senior positions; locations were logged from all levels of education: primary schools, high schools, and universities; and places we cannot avoid, such as supermarkets, residential areas, and even busy main roads. Originally conceived just for my local area, the website garnered over 130 submissions from eight countries, showcasing these aren’t isolated experiences in a few specific areas but rather a global issue that must be confronted.
I photographed all of the ‘logged’ locations I could, travelling between cities to document these everyday places where incidents had occurred. I developed a two-part hand-printing process and printed every image onto silk. The ink runs and washes away, the image appearing cracked or faint, with some locations no longer recognisable. This was to convey the fragility of our memories and the doubt we are programmed to implant in our minds when recalling sexist incidents. Researcher Dr Brené Brown defines stories as being “data with a soul”, and after printing the images, I presented them as a tangible database, encapsulating the collective issue as a walk-in installation. Viewers could walk inside the structure to confront and reflect on the sheer number of places where incidents had occurred and the familiarity of the locations. When moved next, the silk would waft and flow, giving the sculpture a pulse-like, alive feeling: a living archive.
The installation was originally exhibited at the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design Degree Show 2022. The prints will be exhibited on the evening of the Reclaim the Night march at the V&A Dundee on Monday, 28 November 2022.
It is commonly agreed that the most effective forms of prevention for GBV are educating society and raising awareness, so the Degree Show was a great platform for this work as it is always a big part of the community and thousands of people visit. I wanted the work to be delicate and engaging in order to create an inviting, safe environment for reflections and discussions around Gender Based Violence to take place.
Many incredible people and organisations work to make our world safer and fairer. In Dundee, we have WRASAC (@wrasac), which supports those who have experienced sexual violence, and the Gendered Services Project (dvawp.co.uk), which works to improve services and responses to women who have experienced inequality. @strutsafe is a UK-wide initiative offering telephone assistance to people walking home alone at night. HJ Talks About Abuse is a Hugh James Law firm podcast aiming to inform and offer legal support for listeners regarding sexual abuse. Glasgow-based @survivorartscommunity is a non-profit organisation supporting the artistic pursuits of survivors of GBV. Lily O’Farrell @vulvadrawings is a feminist cartoonist educating her Instagram followers on everyday sexism.
Dana Leslie is a Fine Arts graduate of the University of Dundee's Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design and was named the Global Winner in the Global Undergraduate Awards 2022, the world’s largest academic awards programme that recognises top undergraduate work. Dana (24) was named overall winner in the Visual Arts category for her work titled ‘Hope is a Form of Planning,’ a series of immersive works encouraging interaction with the sharing, documenting, and battling of gendered experiences.
Image Credit: Photographs of exhibition installtion by Dana Leslie
16 Days is an international campaign to challenge violence against women and girls. The campaign runs every year from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day. This year's theme is 16 Days of Activism. The Global 16 Days Campaign, launched by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) and feminists from around the world at the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991, has been used worldwide to call for the elimination of gender-based violence (GBV).
Services available to women in Dundee:
Violence Against Women Services for Vulnerable Women Booklet 2022
Gender-Based violence refers to harmful acts directed at an individual based on their gender. It is rooted in gender inequality, power abuse, and harmful norms.
Gender-based violence (GBV) is a serious violation of human rights and a life-threatening health and protection issue. It is estimated that one in three women will experience sexual or physical violence in their lifetime. During displacement and times of crisis, the threat of GBV significantly increases for women and girls.