THE ART PROJECT
Women are an important pillar in a society, but women and girls still often lack access to education, health care, work and basic rights.
In 2016, Franziska Greber initiated a non-profit pilot art project in Zimbabwe entitled WOMEN IN THE DARK, which in retrospect has assumed unimagined dimensions to this day. From the very beginning, WOMEN IN THE DARK was a participatory and transdisciplinary art project that addresses the realities of life for women.
In close cooperation with regional NGOs, women and human rights organizations, women are encouraged to write about their experiences, injuries, fear, hopes and demands on female clothing. The women usually write on white shirts with a red permanent marker, in India on dupattas/scarves. Franziska Greber chooses white shirts as an art medium because clothes are laden with societal, historical and cultural implications. Clothes may also reflect gender biases.
WOMEN IN THE DARK describes a societal place that is assigned to women. A place in the dark, often with limited or even no rights. The level of darkness is different in each country, as is the reaction to women trying to speak out, but there are dark places everywhere.
WOMEN IN THE DARK contributes the visibility of the life conditions of women and initiates individual and societal change processes, referring to gender equality and protection from all forms of harassment and oppression by gender stereotypes, discrimination and violence in all societies.
Since Zimbabwe, WOMEN IN THE DARK has been implemented in the Seychelles, Mauritius, China, India, Switzerland, Chile and Germany.
Eventually, the project is presented in cultural institutions and museums of the respective country that are of national importance, both in group exhibitions and solo shows. The artistic installations for which Franziska Greber uses the female garments with the original messages form a central point of attraction.
1. Building up Networks & Cooperations
Collaboration, participation and discourse are the prerequisites and the basis to be developed, which are lived conceptually up to the exhibitions and sustainability.
There are one or two project partners in each country that again collaborate with their own network. Each established collaboration expands the global network of women’s and human rights organizations that advocate hearing women’s voices.
2. Writing Process
The women’s writing process is the responsibility of the project partners on site. Experts who accompany the women, define the appropriate framework and are available for advice. With the consent of the women, the writing process is documented through interviews as well as photos and videos.
3. Exhibition & accompanying Events
The artistic installations for which Franziska Greber uses the clothes with the original messages by the women form a central point of attraction. Further installations such as videos, photos, text and sound are possible and adapted to the exhibition locations.
As it is a constantly growing project, there could be local and national presentations in the participating community or country as well as on an international platform.
The project partners hold accompanying events during the exhibition and WOMEN IN THE DARK is simultaneously transformed into major information campaigns.
In this way, contemporary art can intervene directly in societal critical issues and lead to a change in people’s values, thoughts and actions.
A lasting impact for the participating women is achieved through
-the making of one’s own life situation public
-the exchange with other women and professionals
-the experience that their voices are heard and taken seriously
A lasting impact for the participating organizations is achieved through
-collaboration with institutions (museums) that reach a different audience and open new doors for the future
-the opportunity to use the women’s texts as a basis for further training and research projects or to justify claims
-the use of media attention for their concerns
A lasting impact in society is achieved through
-the public perception of hidden, repressed or denied issues
-the confrontation with the statements of the women and the encouragement to address the topic
– by promoting the dialogue through RESONANCE of the visitors to the women’s voices. The interviews conducted by Franziska Greber can be viewed on the WOMEN IN THE DARK website and be used also in other contexts