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Exploring the Re/Sisters Exhibition

In December, Action for Conservation's (AFC) South East Youth Ambassadors visited the Re/Sisters Exhibition at the Barbican in London, in this blog Ambassadors Marianne and Cayla explore what they thought of the exhibition, read it below.

From left to right: Youth Ambassadors, Saul, Katherine, Maisie, Marianne and Cayla

Our visit to The Re/Sisters Exhibition

By Marianne, AFC Youth Ambassador

As part of the Ambassador programme, AFC visited the Re/Sisters exhibition at the Barbican Centre in London last December. This exhibit focused on the relationship between gender and ecology, how climate change, pollution and other factors unfairly affect minority groups but also explored a deeper connection with nature and the world around us.

The exhibit held a collection of 50 female or gender non-conforming artists, who shared their experiences with nature and conservation/activism through film and photography. Whilst all of the works were incredibly thought-provoking, there were a few that caught my (or my friends’) eye.

Pictured left is a collection of photographs, pamphlets, badges, and other memorabilia from Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp. This was a women-only camp set up on Greenham Common during the 1980s to protest against nuclear weapons. This started with a few women, but soon became a magnet for women who wanted not just to abolish nuclear weapons but to end patriarchal systems of oppression and violence. Learning about these women through the photos and expert guidance of Charlotte Flint (the curator) was truly fascinating.

Spider Webs were the symbol of the camp. They originated from the women weaving yarn into the fences to make them stronger, then turned into a symbol to remind people of their presence, and their power.

Another work that caught our eyes was a collection of photographs by a Cuban-American artist named Ana Mendieta. They were thought-provoking and beautiful to look at. However, the one pictured really stood out to us (right). Mendieta used her own body together with elemental matter to create a haunting silhouette - highlighting our connection to nature. This work reminded me of the saying ‘ashes to ashes, dust to dust’, the fact that we were made from the earth and to the earth we will return, the endless mortality and life that connects us to everything on Earth. 

The last work that made us stop and think was this collection of 29 photographs by Simryn Gill. The artist shows colourful plastic bags, fabric remnants and other everyday detritus washed up on the shores of a mangrove forest in a small coastal town in Malaysia (photograph below).

This collection highlighted the importance of environmental care, and with the knowledge of the rarity of mangrove forests and the important part they play as an ecosystem and as part of the larger biosphere, it impacted us all. The artist juxtaposed micro- and macro-viewpoints, and we were able to compare our everyday waste and the global industry, how everything is impactful and has an impact on the entire world.

Thank you to AFC for organising this, it was so much fun and we all had a great time!

A review of the Re/Sisters exhibit at the Barbican

Cayla, AFC Youth Amabassador

Described as “the eco-show where women call the shots” by the Guardian, this exhibition displays artwork highlighting gender prejudice and discrimination, the fights and the protests that many women are subjected to based solely because of gender. However, it also highlights the breathtaking beauty of a woman’s unique perspective and all the achievements made over the centuries.

In the exhibit, we saw the artwork of Laura Aguilar and her Nature Self Portraits, celebrating the return of the body back into nature; Helen Aylon’s Earth Ambulance created to rejuvenate the environment and Pamela Singh’s Chipko Tree Huggers of the Himalayas. Photography reminds us, yet again, of the positive impacts of peaceful protesting, and taking a stand for what you believe in.

Ambassadors explore the exhibition

Art has been used for centuries to get one’s point across and evoke emotions from the viewer. AFC is focused on reaching out to the younger, louder, more climate-aware generation to further preserve the wonders of our home planet. This exhibit is no different in the sense of evoking emotions that will hopefully translate into action in the fight for protecting our planet. If you enjoy seeing the world through the lenses of art, or if you long for the knowledge of different cultures, simply if you just want to see some beautiful artwork, I highly recommend the Barbican’s “Gender and Ecology” exhibit. It makes you rethink your approach to feminism and what it means for individual people, and explore different cultures and perspectives, all the while, seeing breathtaking displays of emotion and identity.

Thanks for reading our blog

Cayla and Marianne!

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