I want to draw your attention to a great blog called Wall of Femmes. Wall of Femmes is the creation of Montrealers who showcase a variety of women who inspire them. The blog’s goals are as follows:
-to promote wider recognition and knowledge of women we admire and find inspirational,
-to assert the people’s ownership of public space,
-to counter the bombardment by mainstream media of negative, unhealthy, unattainable, sexist and/or objectified images of women in our public space.
-to engage in the public discourse and contribute to the unique culture of our city in a meaningful way.
One awesome project the group has already accomplished was a series of stencils of inspirational figures (pictured) along the, “walkways at the Parc and St Laurent underpasses.”
I recently had a discussion about the graffiti with a friend from Montreal who was familiar with the works.
For her, the stencils represent a critique of streets covered in advertising exploiting images of women. A grass-roots response with images of women who, through their actions, words and rich lives, challenged the patriarchal levers of control in society. The graffiti is also an educational opportunity, a way to put names and faces into the public realm to engage the public.
Apparently it has worked! Others have come along and added positive words to the stencils as a response, developing the discourse over time.
During our discussion, I thought about how great it would be to see inspirational stencils like these here in Regina. Almost immediately, however, my thoughts turned to City Hall’s tough on graffiti stance and the general, but not universal, disregard for street art in the city. These visual conversations are, off course, more successful in cosmopolitan Montreal.
The institutions of private property, which I understand to crucial to the foundational idea of cities, will always be at odds with the human desire to personalize space. You will notice that ” public space” quickly becomes “city property” once some kind of unacceptable urban subversion takes place.
Although I don’t always approve of graffiti, the work done by Wall of Femmes to inform, challenge, share with and inspire the people of Montreal is fantastic.
All the best Wall of Femmes, I’m looking forward to hearing more from you.
**Mouse over images for credit info