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WoWmen

Festival

On gender and performing arts

Question 1: name five female dancers.
Question 2: name five female children’s theatre-makers.
Question 3: name five female performance artists.
Question 4: name five female choreographers.
Question 5: name five female playwrights or stage directors.
Question 6: name five female chairmen of board of arts organisations.


It is quite likely that you will be able to answer no. 1 quicker than no. 6. While the arts world may well be well-endowed with women, this is certainly not true of senior management posts. We are opening Wowmen! with a debate on quotas.
Female playwrights and directors also remain few and far between. But fortunately we have Marijs Boulogne. In her ‘fairytale musical’ Marzipan or Plexi she continues elaborating on a new language that is both childlike and obscene. The violence of this whirlwind of woman-power leaves no obstacle standing, from religion to language use.

There are also a few new names in this programme. Wowmen! is going for artists who are not unambiguous. Neither in genre (theatre, dance, visual art) nor theme. Because art benefits from ambiguity. We are however inviting you to watch these performances though rose-tinted spectacles: to what extent are the gender patterns, the male and female role patterns in our society, here confirmed or undermined? And what strategies are used to achieve this?

Both Alexandra Bachzetsis and Maria Hassabi bring to the stage images of the (female) body in the media and art. They play with the spectator’s view: is it pure imitation or does this repetition of poses also imply criticism? Eleanor Bauer and Esther Mugambi take their own lives and bodies as the basis for unravelling their identity with all its contrasts: human/animal, man/woman, black/white, reason/intuition.

In 2006, the present Flemish Minister of Culture, Joke Schauvliege, condemned the sexism of parliament, in response to such utterances as this: ‘So? Have the little hens in the coop decided who is to speak on their behalf?’ It seems that sexism has once again raised its ugly head in the media, especially television. Time for a debate!

Finally, you can also watch films by Renate Lorenz & Pauline Boudry and Saddie Choua, and videos Vlatka Horvat and Miet Warlop.

The WoWmen! image was designed by the Croatian artist Vlatka Horvat, who lives in New York. She works in a variety of media: video, photography, works on paper, the written word, etc.