Ain’t I A Womxn?

Fifty years after the golden age of second-wave feminism, that term is both more ubiquitous and more contested than ever. Organized by public arts organization Freewaves, Ain’t I A Womxn? brings together artists, collectives, and activists for an evening of performances, screenings, and installations that aim to expand and challenge conceptions of feminism, gender, and intersectionality.

“We’re trying to set up a dialogue between an older feminist perspective, and non-binary communities of today,” Freewaves Director Anne Bray told Hyperallergic. The event takes its name from Sojourner Truth’s 1851 “Ain’t I A Woman” speech, a seminal appeal not only for women’s rights, but also the equality of African Americans.

Funmilola Fagbamila

It also grows out of Freewaves’ Dis…Miss program, which involved handing out thousands of artist-designed postcards, each of which had an open-ended question on the back such as “Who Do You Worship?”, “How Does Gender Perform You?”, and “How Can Feminism Support Equality?” The collected responses reflect diverse and thoughtful ideas about gender and identity.

Reanne Estrada and C. Ree

Situated in the newly redesigned Los Angeles State Historic Park, Ain’t I A Womxn? will feature a main stage of performances, with interactive installations, film screenings, and activist booths spread throughout the park. With the goals of inclusivity and accessibility, a new park was chosen, since “it was important that it hadn’t been determined who was using the space yet,” says Bray.

Elana Mann’s megaphone sculpture

Just one of the many participants, sculptor Elana Mann has teamed up with Las Fotos, a nonprofit that mentors teenage girls in photography. They collaborated on a photo backdrop which visitors can pose in front with their answers to questions such as, “What would the world look like without patriarchy?”. Mann’s megaphone sculptures provide a visual metaphor for amplification.

Raquel Gutiérrez

Raquel Gutiérrez, in conjunction with Dirty Looks, has organized a screening of short films by artists that celebrate the history of the nearby Woman’s Building while also questioning what it stood for and who was allowed access. Participating artists include Johanna Breiding, Dean Erdmann, and Andre Keichian.

Xina Xurner (photo by Christopher Richmond)

The main stage will have a wide range of performers, from Nao Bustamante and Marcus Kuiland-Nazario, to Zackary Drucker and comedian Kristina Wong. The evening will culminate in a supergroup mash-up featuring noise/dance outfit Xina Xurner (Young Joon Kwak and Marvin Astorga), Patty Schemel (Hole’s drummer and author of Hit So Hard), and Paris Hurley’s art punk act OBJECT AS SUBJECT. In the words of Kwak, it will be “a collective ritual scream/battlecry/mourning/processing/call to arms/catharsis (audience participation encouraged!) that will slowly build and swell to fill the space of the park with our collective love, solidarity, rage, and power that will resonate beyond individual and spatial boundaries.” If that weren’t enough, Bray says there will also be an audience gender reveal involving smoke bombs and a forklift. The event is free and open to the public, flashlights encouraged.

When: Saturday, July 28, 8–11pm
Where: Los Angeles State Historic Park (1245 N. Spring Street, Chinatown, Los Angeles)

More info at Freewaves.

Matt Stromberg is a freelance visual arts writer based in Los Angeles. In addition to Hyperallergic, he has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, CARLA, Apollo, ARTNews, and other publications.