The Music & Liberation tour closed officially on the weekend. Its been a great Autumn, taking these histories to new audiences, experimenting with different spaces and learning lots on the way.
Here are three of the oral history films we made for the project. We are still waiting for the Maggie Nicols (with footage of Contradictions) and Siren Theatre Company to be uploaded, but they will be soon!
At present there are no plans to tour the exhibition further. The money has run out! But you never know, if you want to see it again then don’t hesitate to get in touch, we may be able to work something out. The exhibition will however make a cameo appearance at this years’ Feminist and Women’s Studies Association conference in June.
In the meantime, you can keep up to date with more feminist music history over at the Women’s Liberation Music Archive.
Thankyou to everyone who came to the exhibition, who volunteered and to those who donated material for display.
After a brief period of hibernation, Music & Liberation will emerge for a limited period only to wow the audiences of London for the last four days of the tour.
Yes, that’s right, the tour is coming to an end after a whirlwind adventure through Cardiff, Manchester, Glasgow and now London in the Autumn/Winter of 2012-2013.
So make sure if you haven’t already seen the exhibition, head down to Space Station Sixty-Five, Building One, 373 Kennington Road, London SE11 4PS. The exhibition will be open from Thursday 10 January-Sunday 13 January, 12-6.00 pm.
If you needed a particular excuse, why not come down for the closing events on 13 January. Below is the programme!
2.00 - 3.30pm
A conversation between Barby Asante, founder of the South London Black Music Archive, and exhibition curator Deborah Withers about community memories, generational transmission and music. Chaired by Tom Perchard, author of Lee Morgan – His Life, Music and Culture.
Screening of the trailer for Hip-Hop Hijabis, with a brief presentation from Mette Reitzel.
Film showing of a documentary about The Gluts, who are comprised of Hayley Newman, Gina Birch and Kaffe Matthews. ‘The Gluts resist the current dismantling of culture and our welfare state – market-led solutions, corporate greed, millionaire government types, capitalism and their roles within climate change and its ongoing effect on our world and people. We want life, not death: education not poverty: fulfillment not oppression. We want libraries with books in them, a healthy health service and a global commons for everyone to share and enjoy, now and in the future!’
The film will be followed by a Q & A, and the showing of Gluts’ pop videos.
The York Street Band made an impromptu appearance at the Music & Liberation exhibition last weekend.
Here are some photos!
Ann Domoney, who is the brains behind the website Feminist Performers, has written a lovely review of the exhibition. Thankyou so much Ann!
Here is the review:
The Women’s Liberation Music Archive aims to document feminist music in the 1970s and 80s. Archive co-ordinators Deborah Withers and Frankie Green have collected together a vast array of recordings, photographs, press clippings, posters and information about the role of music in the Women’s Liberation Movement, and the role of feminism in music-making at the time. Much of the archive can be seen online at http://womensliberationmusicarchive.wordpress.com, and you can experience the archive more directly at the Music and Liberation Exhibition, currently at Space Station 65 in London.
The exhibition explores the struggles and priorities of feminist musicians, while highlighting the diversity within the movement. A strong theme throughout the exhibition is the work that was needed to make music more accessible to women, through offering skill sharing workshops and supportive spaces for rehearsing and improvising. Many women felt excluded from the male-dominated music industry and needed support to participate. A contemporary copy of “Woman Sound” magazine tells of a women only space called “Contradictions”, in which women of all abilities were encouraged to express their creativity. “Shocking Pink”, a magazine written by a collective and aimed at teenage girls, gives advice on setting up a band, which includes finding a practice space where nobody is going to laugh at your efforts. Another element of supporting women to make music was the effort to break down the culture of stars and idols, and to develop collective ways of working so that all women in a group – not only performers but also sound technicians and sometimes administrators – collaborated as equals. Some went further still and attempted to break down the distinction between performers and audiences, by passing around song sheets and performing in spaces without a stage. Feminist musicians were not just women making feminist music, but women trying to make changes at every level to the ways in which music was made.
The exhibition discusses familiar tensions for groups trying to incorporate their politics into their work. How do you hold onto anti-capitalist values while making a living, or even just covering the basic expenses of equipment, travel and room hire? Some women had to pay to be in a band, and few could afford to record their music. How do you reject elitism while still valuing musical skill? The Contradictions manifesto states “Most performance and artistic standards have been defined by men and they stop us exploring for fear of not being ‘good enough’ .” Does focusing too much on musical proficiency detract from the politics? These are questions which are still relevant to feminist performers 30 years on.
The soundtrack to the exhibition is provided by an i-Pad on which visitors can choose tracks from feminist musicians of the time. While I was there, two visitors were enjoying the music so much they danced together. There is also a television with a choice of DVDs showing contemporary recordings of performances, and more recent interviews and oral histories. I was particularly taken with Clapperclaw, a group who describe themselves as “Four women who combine pungent wit and political satire with musical versatility and virtuosity” and sing comic songs about the role of women in history. If you can’t get to the exhibition, the videos can be watched from the website.
The highlight of my visit was a performance in the midst of the exhibition by the York Street Band, a group who first formed in 1978 and re-formed last year when they were contacted by the Archive Co-ordinator. They were a total joy to watch and I found I could not stop smiling. I was particularly delighted to see a pair of shoes, which had earlier been an artefact on display, being worn by one of the performers, who sometimes broke into a tap dance. This detail really brought the exhibition to life. Opening with “Willkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome” from Cabaret, their repertoire included covers of artists ranging from Edith Piaf to The Specials. In keeping with the collective ideal described in the exhibition, there was no obvious leader of the band, with different women taking turns to sometimes put down their instrument and sing. Their highly energetic performance involved all band members dancing as they played, with two of them keeping time with cymbals attached to their knees in addition to their main instruments. Their exuberance was infectious and it was inspiring to see women who had made the history documented around us still making music with so much enthusiasm.
The Music and Liberation exhibition is a fascinating account of the way music and feminism intertwined during the Women’s Liberation Movement. I’d recommend anyone interested in feminist performance to visit the exhibition if you can, or the online archive, to learn more about this part of our history.
The Music and Liberation Exhibition is at Space Station 65, Kennington, London until 13th January. Opening hours are Thursday - Sunday, 12 – 6pm and admission is free. More information is at http://music-and-liberation.tumblr.com/
Two Muslim converts promoting women’s rights through music… and finding their own voices on the way. A documentary film about ‘Poetic Pilgrimage’.
WHO ARE THESE HIP HOP HIJABIS?
Sukina and Muneera met at a local teen talent show in their hometown of Bristol where Muneera was DJing and Sukina was singing. They bonded over their love of music, passion for social justice, spiritual curiosity and shared Jamaican heritage.
A close friendship developed and eventually manifested itself as Poetic Pilgrimage - a spoken word and Hip Hop duo on fire!
Inspired by the autobiography of Malcolm X the two friends converted to Islam in 2005 despite initial concerns about the position of Muslim women. When research reassures them that the original spirit of Islam holds women in the highest regard, they decide to challenge certain attitudes via catchy tunes and hard-hitting rhymes.
And as the feisty and fun-loving young ladies they are, the fact that some consider music to be haram, or forbidden, is not going to deter them on their quest for justice…
You can help fund the film by going to their sponsor page.
Press about Music & Liberation in lesbian lifestyle mag DIVA.
This is a film of Clapperclaw, who were one of the acts whose names popped up in newsletters and listings, but there was never anything more substantial about them available.
Founder member Rix Pyke recently got in touch with Space Station Sixty-Five with a selection of clips from the performance group.
Like many acts involved in the wlm, they used performance, comedy and music in a heady mix to satirise and comment on women’s place in society.