In this week’s podcast Alan talks with Dana Leslie, a Dundee graduate who has won an international award for artwork inspired by women’s experience of sexism, harassment and gender-based violence. She is a multidisciplinary artist, theatre-maker and feminist who tackles political and feminist themes in her work, encouraging interaction and engagement.
Dana explains in the podcast why she created the artwork titled “Hope is a Form of Planning”. It won the visual arts category in the Global Undergraduate Awards 2022. Her winning submission featured artwork she prepared for the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design (DJCAD) Degree Show 2022 as part of her Fine Art degree
Very much at the heart of the artwork are the real stories of women who contributed to a “living archive” which Dana set-up enabling them to record, on a webpage, the locations of the incidents where for example they were abused and to do so anonymously.
Dana explains that she wanted to combine research, artwork and activism, as well as to inspire compassion through her art and to reduce “the distance we put between ourselves and the stories we read”.
Photographs taken by Dana of the locations named by the contributors form part of the artwork. The images are printed in black and white on silk.
There are two further pieces that make-up the artwork which effectively take the visitor or viewer on a journey.
Having viewed the images you are taken on to the second piece which features a video projection of the hands of four women directly on to a table who recount their own stories of sexism and harassment.
The scene is filmed from above, so only the women’s hands are seen and the audio is removed. The concept is for the visitor or viewer to find themselves in what must be an intimate moment to connect with the women, and also possibly with others who are attending to. What they experience through the hand movements are the emotions of anger and unhappiness.
The third piece is a hand-built claw machine where visitors can win white masks. This is inter-active, and anyone who has tried to win a prize at a fairground claw machine will appreciate the sense of frustration. For Dana the analogy is deliberate because of the sense of power that is given on the part of another for example an abuser.
For visitor or viewer of the artwork they are being taken Alan would suggest on a powerful journey exploring the reality of abuse that survivors have to live with. We have the abuse taking place in ordinary if not familiar places, and then having to share the emotion, along with the sense of powerlessness. Nevertheless, there is for Alan on reflection survivor empowerment because we are confronted by realties which in turn makes us think about the issues which would otherwise pass us by.
Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.
Contact one of our experts
Fill in the form and one of our experts will get in touch with you shortly.