The Talking Back Feminist Media Conference: Track Four Session Descriptions
Illustration: Sophie Freedman-Lawson
Join us at the Talking Back Feminist Media Conference on November 16 and 17 at the Toronto Media Arts Centre! Tickets on sale now
This post gives detailed descriptions of the sessions in Track Four. Please see the other tracks here:
For details on our Arts Market vendors, please see the post here.
For information on art exhibitions and lunchtime micro-talks, please see the post here.
Form and Aesthetics
How do we define feminist media? What forms can it take? How can we expand what media can be feminist? How can technology (both low-tech and high-tech) contribute to a feminist culture? How are new media forms breaking down the distinctions between consumers and producers? How does technology, medium, and form affect the message media is delivering? What social or cultural frameworks influence the form with which we make feminist media? What does it look like to no longer need feminist media? What are the futures of feminist form, and how can we re-imagine the process of production?
Casa de Paso (Home in Transition) – Self Portrait through Digital Narratives
Workshop and video screening
Presented by: A former North York Women’s Shelter resident (she will share her real name or pseudonym during the presentation), Mohini Datta-Ray (Executive Director), Victoria Mata (Expressive Arts Counsellor), Rose Bright (Mental Health & Trauma Counsellor)
Sunday, November 17
During this session, participants will view the digital narratives — video stories — of seven former residents of the North York Women’s Shelter. Each unique story explores personal and systemic reflections of violence, power and immigration. Stereotypes about who and why families end up living in shelters are disrupted and challenged and new narratives are offered. We hope that the photography and video narratives depicted within each woman’s segment will foster discussion about stereotypes and violence. Through the process of viewing and group reflection we aim to give participants an example of how feminist media making has the capacity to build community and promote individual and systemic healing.
Time will be spent watching selected segments as a large group. After viewing the segments, attendees will break out into smaller groups to explore an assigned docu-narrative segment. We will then come together as a larger group to collectively reflect on the stories shared. Our hope is that participants will be exposed to the impact of the docu-narratives as a tool to engage, educate and be witnesses to women’s healing journeys. Presenters will also share the challenges and successes experienced during the creation of Casa de Paso.
Is fat still a feminist issue?
Presented by: Calla Evans
Sunday, November 17
During this workshop, Calla Evans will guide a discussion around three main questions: What is the role of fat-positive, fat-authored feminist media? Can we consider these texts contemporary sites of fat activism, especially as they relate to feminist media theories? Which fat voices are missing from these texts and how can we expand the boundaries of fat-authored, fat-positive media in a way that is intentionally inclusive of intersecting identities? Participants should expect to encounter ideas around the political nature of fat identity construction and performance, fat activism and fat liberation, and be prepared to turn a critical eye to the fat-focused media texts that they are currently reading, watching or otherwise consuming. Grounded in her research on contemporary fat activism movements on Instagram, Calla will present her findings as an entry point into the discussion, alongside case studies of specific fat-positive texts. However the majority of our time will be spent in conversation with each other (in small groups and as a larger collective) as we work together to map the current fat feminist media landscape, identify important gaps and limitations and chart a path towards fat-authored and fat-positive media that are intentionally more inclusive.
Participants should expect to encounter ideas around the political nature of fat identity construction and performance, fat activism and fat liberation.
Roots, Relationships and Resistance
Talk followed by Q&A
Presented by: Vanessa Gray
Saturday, November 16
Vanessa Gray is a 27 year old Queer Anishinaabe kwe from the Aamjiwnaang First Nation, located in Canada’s Chemical Valley. As a grassroots organizer, land defender and educator, Vanessa works to decolonize environmental justice research by linking scholarly findings to traditional teachings. Vanessa is a co-founder of Aamjiwnaang & Sarnia Against Pipelines (ASAP) and host of the annual Toxic Tour of Canada’s Chemical Valley. She continues to take part in a diversity of tactics such direct action, classroom lectures, co-hosting Toxic Tours and Water Gatherings.
“Growing up in Aamjiwnaang surrounded by petrochemical refineries have always made me question my relationship to the environment. Being Indigenous in Canada continues to be the struggle to uphold my responsibility to the Anishinaabek Territory. Education and understanding our interconnected struggles is essential to our ever-growing movement, but we can’t afford not to take risks for a sustainable and just future.”
Art Reimagined: Conversations with Heidi Cho and Tania Kengatharan
Presentations, audience Q&A, workshop
Presented by: Heidi Cho and Tania Kengatharan
Saturday, November 16
Join self-taught artist Heidi Cho for an illustrated show and tell presentation, “Trying My Very Best,” on the importance of telling your own story. Incorporating comics, ceramics and inner monologue, Cho invites viewers into a personal sneak peek of her creative process, past work and journey to owning her identity as an “artist.” Cho’s work centres around themes of intergenerational trauma, mental health, queerness and diasporic Korean identity. By showcasing her private experiences in public settings (ie. gallery, art fairs, online etc), Cho will explore the healing and political nature of narrative-based art. Cho will also speak to the minimization of DIY art in high art spaces, as well as offer tips to surviving art/comics/zine/craft capitalist spaces as a queer person of colour. Cho’s show and tell will offer an introduction to anyone who’s never seen their experiences reflected and thinks about taking up space with their art, writing and stories.
Homophobia, mental health, racism, suicide ideation, isolation, sexual assault and domestic violence survivorship
Rediscover art as a form of radical self-care and communal healing with multi-medium artist Tania Kengatharan. Join us for a workshop, “Bad Artist, Rad Artist,” that consists of both performance and simple arts-based practices to begin the process of creating. Tania’s work explores the use of art as a space to process trauma that often exists at the intersections of identity through written poetry, spoken word, song-writing, and various other creative outlets. Beyond centering ourselves and engaging with emotions, learn about art as a facet of generating empathy, creating educational moments and presenting under-represented alternative narratives as a form of activism. Tania’s workshop will emphasize the power of using art to radically transform, or ideally, completely reimagine the world in which we live through creative practice.
Discussions of survivorship, homophobia and transphobia.