Opening Conference – Immersion into the HIV Body: Politics of Representation, A Personal Perspective. Richard Sawdon Smith.
Saturday, December 2nd, 2017, from 3 to 4:30 PM
Maison de la culture Frontenac, Theater
Testimonial of his own story through photographic self-portraiture, Richard Sawdon Smith, presented recent work that allows the viewer to travel through his HIV-infected body with virtual reality technology. This perspective aimed to break down one of the biggest issues still facing people living with HIV/AIDS today: stigma.
Activity at the Frontenac Library – “The LGBTQ Reality”, GRIS Montréal.
Wednesday, December 6th, 2017, from 6 to 7 PM
Discussions with two people from LGBTQ communities in order to better understand their realities and to dispel prejudices. Hosted by GRIS Montréal.
Performance and Panel – Post C-36: Still Battling to End Violence Against Sex Workers.
Sunday, December 17th, 2017, from 3 to 4:30 PM
Maison de la culture Frontenac, Theater
On the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, Témoigner pour Agir gathered experts from artistic, community and academic milieus: Alexandra Tigchelaar (Sasha Von Bon Bon), Grace Van Ness, Jenn Clamen, and Viviane Namaste. They will deliver a key message about ending violence in the current Canadian legal framework, post Bill C-36 [Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (2014)], particularly against women, transgender persons and racialized individuals who are working in the sex industry.
Closing Conference – Intersex People Finding Their Voice: Rising from Shame, Stigma, and Speechlessness. Ins A Kromminga.
Friday, January 19th, 2018, from 7 to 8:30 PM
UQAM, Marie-Gérin-Lajoie Hall
The intersex activist and artist, Ins A Kromminga, explored the emergence, in public spaces, of voices, language, and testimonials from intersex people. Drawing on personal artworks and other projects arising from within the activist intersex movement, Kromminga analyzed how these voices, historically and socially silenced by the predominance of a medical approach that pathologizes and exoticises intersex people, can be the source of a global movement for change.
Meeting the Artists
Témoigner pour Agir: The Artist Book with Eloisa Aquino and Kevin Crombie.
Saturday, January 6th, 2018, from 3 to 4:30 PM
This artist talk was an opportunity for two artists, Eloisa Aquino and Kevin Crombie, both exhibiting book works in Témoigner pour Agir, to engage in a dialogue with the public, the exhibition co-curator Jamie W. Goodyear and GRIS Montréal, about testimonials in artist’s book form, as well as issues experienced by people who are marginalized because of their sexuality, gender or body.
Témoigner pour Agir: Textual Work with Ianna Book and Shan Kelley.
Saturday, January 13th, 2018, from 3 to 4:30 PM
This artist talk was an opportunity for two artists, Ianna Book and Shan Kelley, both exhibiting textual work in Témoigner pour Agir, to engage in a dialogue with the public, the exhibition co-curator Jamie W. Goodyear and the Center for Gender Advocacy, about artistic testimonials that text-based, and the power of words in adressing issues of relevance to people who are marginalized because of their sexuality, gender or body.
Le témoignage sexuel et intime, un levier de changement social? (ed. Mensah), PUQ, in the series Problèmes sociaux et intervention sociale.
Thursday, December 7th, 2017, from 5:30 to 7 PM
Room DS-1950, UQAM
This collection of 15 articles mobilizes scientific and field knowledge, as well as excerpts from seven interviews conducted with members of sexual and gender communities in Quebec, who have devlivered a public testimonial. The authors are from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds, articulate the theoretical and methodological milestones for understanding how testimonials about sexuality and one’s intimate life may act as important tools for social change.
Study day: Emerging Perspectives from Students and Researchers.
Thursday, January 11th, 2017, from 10 AM to 4 PM
Room DS-1950, UQAM
This study day was focused on the points of view of emerging scholars, students, and researchers in the area of testimonial cultures. Organised as a ‘Master Class’, students and presentors had an opportunity to discuss their work with experts in Feminist Studies, Social Work, Sexology, Art History, Visual Arts, Sociology and Queer Theory. Confirmed speakers include: Jamie W. Goodyear (Art Studies and Practice), Véronique Larose (Social Work), Claude G. Olivier (Art History), and Clark Pignedoli (Sociology).
Study Day: Testimonials and Community Art Projects
Thursday, January 18th, 2017, from 3 to 9 PM
Room DS-1950, UQAM
This day consisted of presentations by artists and community groups exhibiting in Témoigner pour Agir and open discussions with the public. Speakers will adress the production and reception processes involved in making Mon corps, mon histoire (International Community of Women Living With HIV), ArmHer (Sex Workers’ Alliance of Sudbury) Installation Stella (Stella l’amie de Maimie) et Entre nous (Coalition des organismes communautaires québécois de lutte contre le VIH/sida).
Guided tour followed by creative workshop
Saturday, December 2nd, 2017, from 1 to 2:25 PM
Sunday, December 17th, 2017, from 1 to 2:25 PM
Maison de la culture Frontenac
Two guided tours, developed by the exhibition team, allowed a discussion with the public on intimate, social and the political storytelling of Témoigner pour Agir, followed by creative workshop with an artist facilitator at the Frontenac Library.
Saturday, January 11th, 2018, from 11 AM to 12:00 PM
The Drag queen Barbada told stories to children ages 3 to 6 accompanied by their parents at the Bibliothèque Frontenac.
Books in library
For Témoigner pour Agir, Frontenac Library made available books addressing the exhibition’s themes to all audiences.
Opening conference – Immersion in the HIV-positive body, politics and representation. Personal perspective of a committed artist, Richard Sawdon Smith.
The opening talk of Témoigner pour Agir was delivered by Richard Sawdon Smith, a British photographer, in the auditorium of the Maison de la culture Frontenac. He presented a lecture titled “HIV Positive Body Immersion, Politics and Representation: A Personal Perspective”. There he conducted a retrospective of his works from the past two decades, works in which he uses the self-portrait to make visible the mechanism of stigma against people living with HIV. He reminds us that his work is based on a personal perspective, is an artist’s testimony, which draws on his experience as a gay man, HIV positive since 1994, with an undetectable viral load since 2005.
Sawdon Smith believes that not everyone can afford to testify publicly under safe conditions. The use of one (or more) persona allows him to detach himself from his work, to create distance and to become more objective. He adopts the persona of the “damaged narcissist” to talk about corruption, vanity and the potentially damaged body of HIV that is invisible to the naked eye. The “Anatomical Man” persona, where the subject – Sawdon Smith himself – is a pre-tattoo / pre-medical and post-tattoo / post-medical person, as is the case with many people living with the HIV, whose life is split in two, before and after being diagnosed with HIV.
During the exchange period with the audience, the discussion focused on the notion of the undetectability of HIV, on the process of exploring one’s own body and one’s illness as an artist, on the tensions raised by the idea of publicly testifying about your HIV status on a daily basis, the difference between being HIV positive in 2017 versus living with HIV in 1994, on the issue of stigma and on tattooing.
Performance and roundtable – After C-36: Still fighting against violence against people who engage in sex work.
On the occasion of the International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers (SW), the team organized a conference bringing together a panel of experts followed by a performance around the theme “After C-36: still fighting against violence against people who engage in sex work ”.
All have delivered a flagship message to end violence since the entry into force of Bill C-36 [Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (2014)] and, in particular the violence that is expressed towards women, trans and racialized people who engage in sex work in Canada. The activity was held in the performance hall of the Maison de la culture Frontenac. Each of the panelists delivered a short communication followed by a discussion among themselves, then with the audience. The period of discussion with the public focused on the notion of security for SW, especially in the context of public testimony, such as that of a panel or a conference like this one. Several protection and support strategies to be employed on a daily basis were named and discussed.
Community Perspective, Jenn Clamen
Jenn Clamen is an activist in the Canadian and global movement for the rights of sex workers – she co-founded the Canadian Guild of Erotic Work in 2003. She is currently the Communications and Outreach Coordinator at Stella, and the National Coordinator of Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform.
From her perspective, violence against sex workers is not a theoretical thing, but very real. Rather, she believes that it is the idea that “prostitution is violence in itself” or “a form of sexual exploitation in itself” that is theoretical. If we follow this thought, there is only one step to take from wanting to eliminate “prostitution” to eliminating “prostitutes”. There is also the violence exerted by police and judicial repression, society, and social services.
In this regard, Clamen demonstrated that the violence experienced by sex workers does not come from their work as such, but rather from the thoughts and theories that drive and promote criminalization, which results in a context of stigmatization, a climate of hatred and rejection. This context is conducive to violence against sex workers, violence against them is permitted and experienced on a daily basis. Violence is, in part, a consequence of the criminalization which isolates sex workers from legal, health, social systems; the consequences of being exposed as a sex worker and the subsequent discrimination in public spheres leave sex workers unprotected. We must recognize the agency and self-determination of sex workers, and they must be included in the development of all laws and policies that impact their lives and work. Clamen concluded her communication by urging the new federal government to support the demand for the withdrawal of the PCEPA, which increases the presence of police in the lives of sex workers as well as their vulnerability to violence.
Academic Perspective, Viviane Namaste
Viviane Namaste is a professor at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute and holder of the Research Chair in HIV/AIDS and Sexual Health at Concordia University. She was present at the panel in order to bring an academic perspective to the discussion.
Artistic Perspective, Grace Van Ness
Grace Van Ness (see artists and works section for biography) presented a video which consists of a recording of a telephone conversation with her mother, after she found Van Ness’s pornography on social media and the ‘reconciliation’ chat they had.
From her perspective as a visual artist and pornographer, the personal stories of SW are too often presented in a simplified, trivialized way. This, according to her, promotes violence against SW. Van Ness’s communication allowed her to explain her artistic approach of telling her own story (in this case, of coming out to her mother), using audio and video clips. These excerpts, although sexually explicit, have been contextualized and commented on. The audience was able to discover how the artist seeks to demonstrate the human complexity, the layers, and the nuances of this double experience of being both a sex worker and the daughter of a mother. Current laws do not take into account this complexity and the nuances in the life of SX. It would be much more difficult to criminalize them if that was the case.
Van Ness concluded her presentation on the collective dimension of her artistic testimony, and then that it is corroborated by other colleagues in the industry.
Performance, Sasha Van Bon Bon
Sasha Van Bon Bon, co-founder of the Operation Snatch cabaret theater troupe in Toronto, performed select monologues from “Les Demimondes” and “Neon Nightz”. Her satirical performance presented the realities of SW, presenting the links between the different prejudices that are conveyed at different times.
Closing Conference – Intersex Voices: Rising Out of Shame, Stigma and Silence. Ins A Kromminga.
The closing conference was delivered by Ins A Kromminga, artist and activist for the rights of intersex people, at the Marie Gérin-Lajoie room of the UQAM.
Kromminga began with a recap of the history of the pathologization of intersexuality, and the detrimental consequences of this medical outlook on intersex people, including unwanted surgeries on newborns. By discussing their artistic development, Kromminga explains to us that this pathologization is one of the reasons why medical representations take a great place in their work. For example, it includes tools for measuring genitals, such as the Swiss pediatrician Prader scale, used to classify genitals and, by the same token, genitals “deviating” from the standard.
Kromminga subsequently testified about their personal story. At birth they were referred to as a girl, however, as a teenager their puberty took on a rather masculine turn that was incomprehensible to them. At the doctor’s recommendation, Kromminga started taking hormone blockers. At the age of 18, Kromminga chose to stop the medication and tried to live as a woman. It was twelve years later, hearing an interview with a trans woman, that it enabled them to find testimonials from people who are going through similar things. This is how Kromminga met first-wave German activist Michel Reiter, who set up AGGPG, an activist group against pediatric violence, in Germany in 1996. Kromminga plays a short excerpt from a video in German on the medical records of this activist, “The Hidden Gender” (2001).
Kromminga then discussed at length their artistic approach. According to them, intersex people have been around forever, and in that sense Kromminga likes to include links to the “cultural ancestors” of intersex, to find people who are like them in the past. According to Kromminga, the history of intersex people is embedded in the history of modern medicine. Indeed, there was a period in medical photographic culture when doctors were experts in intersex people, they were the authority to listen.
In order to talk about this stigma of intersex bodies in their works, Kromminga makes a connection with popular culture: “Vulvarine”, a sexist and derogatory term for hairy vaginas and the character of Wolverine, an X-men, who also lives consequences of prejudices in relation to his body, which causes shame and secrecy. This stigmatization of bodies and the prescriptions of gender norms make it almost impossible to escape these medical institutions.
To end their presentation, Kromminga presented the intersex militant movement that is growing across the world. This movement began thanks to families who called for a change in the dominant medical model (the Intersex Society of North America). An excerpt from the documentary film “The Hermaphrodites Speak” (Chase, 1997) was shown on this subject. Then the results of some promising research were presented, but the activists still demand that more research be done on intersex children and adults. Although the social movement is growing in number and visibility, the majority of intersex people are isolated. In many countries, there is only one person who identifies as intersex and defends the rights of intersex people. Thus, international forums and congresses are rare opportunities for intersex people to come together and gain visibility. Indeed, Kromminga testifies about their teenage years, which were a source of shame, loneliness, exclusion, and frustration. It was meeting other intersex people that allowed them to regain power over their life, and to realize that intersex people have a right to their bodies, that they are not horrible, and that what is horrible is what the medical system puts them through.
The question period, moderated by Janik Bastien-Charlebois, sparked dynamic engagement from the public. The topics covered were numerous: the history of groups defending the rights of intersex people, the identification of intersex people with these groups, as well as the difficulties and turning points of Ins’s journey in the face of their intersexuality, particularly in this regard, which relates to the feeling of isolation. The audience also questioned the issue of activism through art, and the links between various minority groups (e.g. LGBTQ, people living with HIV, deaf people, people with disabilities, feminist movement). The public also questions the appropriateness of certain medical interventions, and Kromminga explains that it is never a danger of life or death. Finally, a discussion is started on the most common prejudices, young intersex people, as well as the reasons for the development of the rights of intersex people in Malta.
Meet the artists
Témoigner pour Agir: the artist’s book. Meeting with Eloisa Aquino and Kevin Crombie
The artists’ meeting on “The Queer Artist Book” was held in the multipurpose room of the Frontenac Library. Its goals were to:
- bring together Eloisa Aquino and Kevin Crombie, two artists exhibiting artist books in the Témoigner pour Agir exhibition.
- enter a dialogue with the public on artistic testimony and the issues experienced by people who are minorities because of their sexuality, their gender or their body.
Eloisa Aquino is a Brazilian queer artist who settled in Montreal. For almost 30 years now, she has been making zines that address the realities of queer latinx, which can be explored in her series “The Life and Times of Butch Dykes” (2009).
Her communication allowed her to present her B&D Press website, and then describe the process by which she developed her various zines. She started out making illustrated biographies of male lesbians, eventually focusing on queer people, whose realities are invisible. She describes her work as a kind of journalism: she does research in order to have all the information necessary to summarize the lives of people, with its richness and its nuances. While some biographies only take a day, others require a greater investment of time. She discusses the Madame Sata book, which took longer to complete, which includes more texts, and which is presented in a different format than her zines. She explains that because she does not have access to primary sources, she actually writes down people’s myths, where she can’t relate what happened, but rather what people thought of what happened. The story it produces is how a company viewed a queer figure.
Kevin Crombie is an artist and author based in Quebec. He was active in the queer scene in Toronto and Halifax in the 1980s, and now uses writing as activism. His artist book Gloss was exhibited as part of the exhibition Témoigner pour Agir. The artists’ meeting allowed him to present his understanding of collective and personal struggles for the defense of the rights of gay communities as being both political and experiential.
Crombie began his communication by explaining that he is uncomfortable with the culture of self-promotion, which affects his work. He ends up producing things that are for others rather than for himself. He is fascinated by books. For Crombie, the book is a technology, a reference, which is used to classify knowledge, and generally it is assumed that this reference is reliable, since it is structured. His artistic approach therefore aims to deconstruct the preconceived ideas people have about books. He presents several of his works, where he speaks as an author who makes art and describes how art played an important role in the writing of his novel.
The question period covered the themes of translation, the lack of academic credentials, as well as how identity shines through in art.
Témoigner pour Agir: Textual Work. Meeting with Ianna Book and Shan Kelley
The artists’ meeting was held in the multipurpose room of the Frontenac Library. It aimed to allow the public to enter into a dialogue with Ianna Book and Shan Kelley, two artists exhibiting in Témoigner pour Agir on the theme of “artistic textual work” and to deepen their knowledge of the issues experienced by people who are minority because of their sexuality, their gender or their body.
Shan Kelley is a Montreal-based, queer, HIV-positive Alberta visual artist. He is a member of the Visual AIDS group which uses art to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS. Since being diagnosed with HIV in 2009, he has used art as an activist. His works “Count me out” and “Growing Concerns”were exhibited as part of Témoigner pour Agir.
After reading the letter to his daughter that accompanies Growing Concerns, Shan Kelly showed several examples of his work. He explained their story and how his approach aims to make visible the experiences of people living with HIV and their own HIV status. He works from a text and words have a way of expressing the intimacy of this experience; the words invite the audience to interpret the text.
The artist has decided to commit to speaking out against prejudices arising from personal situations. Indignant, he also tackles the theme of the loss of a loved one (his father, his wife, his daughter, his friends) through symbols such as the bed, military weapons boxes.
In relation to HIV/AIDS specifically, Kelley got fed up at some point with events like World AIDS Day on December 1 every year. There are always those whom World Day does not represent. This opened a door to reflections on invisibility, and on the challenges of disclosing his positive HIV status, especially to his partners. Kelley speaks out against misconceptions and serophobia.
Ianna Book is a multidisciplinary artist who exhibited her installation “OK Lucid!” as part of Témoigner pour Agir.
Ianna Book retraced the milestones of her creation and performance practice. Several examples of her works have been commented on by the artist herself. The text of her works appears on a screen and is for Book a way of projecting violence and letting go of it.
Following the two presentations, a period of discussion followed, first between the artists and then with the audience. Questions from the audience made it possible to develop an exchange around the reception of the works by different audiences, the experience of online disclosure (of their HIV status, their transsexuality, etc.) on websites of encounter and our in/tolerance vis-à-vis the different possible responses of people who receive such testimony. A discussion ensued on the issue of the criminalization of non-disclosure of HIV status, on artistic textual work, and on the tension between art and activism.
Study day: Perspectives of the next generation of students
The study day on emerging perspectives in research about testimonial cultures brought together a total of eighteen people. Professors Julie Lavigne and Maria Nengeh Mensah animated the day and a respectful framework was created to ensure quality exchanges. Five student presentations were followed by very stimulating discussion.
- Jamie Wilson Goodyear (PhD candidate in Arts Studies and Practices, UQAM) presented his self-ethnographic research-intervention on the practice of co-curating in the creation of the exhibition Témoigner pour Agir. Comments and reflections on his presentation focused on the evolution of the role of commissioner, the paradigm shift in the commissioner’s office, and the arrangements and time required for consensus decision-making.
- Claude G. Olivier (PhD candidate in Art History, concentration in Feminist Studies, UQAM) shared an analysis of how the artistic and cultural productions of trans artists make it possible to think about the violence perpetrated by dominant discourses. The analysis is based on her own experience as co-curator of TRANS TIME : Affirmations trans en art actuel (Montréal 2014, Paris 2016). The discussion revolved around questions of self-representation, the risks for artists who testify and the medium of photography.
- Julia Minne (PhD candidate in Communication, Université de Montréal and Plastic Arts, Université de Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne) discussed the video testimonies of Quebec feminists in the 1970s, with a view to disseminating struggles and reappropriating the videographic medium. She wonders about the place to be attributed to these voices now. The discussion with the audience addressed the confrontation between the public and the intimate in video, the notion of video production by and for communities, and the transversality between the history of video and that of feminisms.
- Clark Pignedoli (PhD candidate in Sociology, concentration in Feminist Studies, UQAM) is interested in the representation of trans voices within Drag King theories. He presented a problematization of Drag King practices, which if understood in a cisnormative way, deny the visibility of trans people. The reflections and comments at the end of the presentation were marked by the links between transitude and performance drag, as well as the issues associated with the use of a participatory methodology.
- René Légaré (Master’s degree in Social and Public Communication, UQAM) presented a preliminary analysis of the speeches of gay men on PrEP from a critical perspective of power relations. His project is about discerning the mechanisms of control over sexuality and in evaluating whether this discourse on PrEP influences established power relations. The discussion with the audience allowed for a debate on harm reduction, power dynamics between gay men, and with the pharmaceutical lobby as well as on the links to be forged between the notions of promiscuity, heteronormativity and mononormativity.
We ended the day with a plenary discussion on the commonalities between the five presentations and the perspectives emerging from them.
Study Day: Community Art Projects
The study day on community art and engaged art brought together twenty people. Professors Véro Leduc, Ève Lamoureux and Maria Nengeh Mensah animated the day. Eight people presented their projects. After each presentation, participants were invited to use post-it notes to leave comments, questions and thoughts generated by the presentation. These post-it notes were posted on the wall and grouped according to the following questions:
- What more does art allow in engagement?
- What ethical questions do community art practices pose by and for people from sexual and gender minorities?
- What are the most important social issues for the struggles to be waged for a more inclusive society?
In summary, here is the content of these presentations.
La Pièce rose – Chloé Surprenant and Jenn Clamen | Stella, l’amie de Maimie
La Pièce rose [The Pink Room] is a collective work featuring a collection of objects belonging to sex workers. Exhibited in Témoigner pour Agir, the work presents the personal and political realities of those working in the sex industry.
First, the speakers explained that the Stella organization often uses art to challenge stereotypes and prejudices about sex work. For her part, Chloé has done street art and photojournalism for several years during trips where she was in contact with migrants. Tracing the history of their artistic collaborations, Jenn and Chloé talked about an art and literature workshop they gave in prison, which involved raising awareness of issues related to hepatitis C. Then, others cultural actions of this type were discussed, for example painting slogans on participants from Stella to denounce prohibition during the Grand Prix.
For the artist, the first contacts with women were therefore in the intimacy, but also in openness. She names the issues of anonymity (e.g. removing tattoos on Photoshop to prevent women from being recognizable). La Pièce rose is inspired by a similar project by the Toronto-based Butterfly Asian Sex Workers Network: a staging of objects that have belonged to migrant workers in sex work. It was with this idea in mind, and the visual of the pink room from David Lynch’s movie Twin Peaks, that they created La Pièce rose. They made a call to the community and the items started arriving with their stories. Chloe painted a space in the gallery pink, and the women then came to arrange the objects in the space. La Pièce rose is special because it allows us to put forward stories that warm the heart, and these are stories that are not often brought to the fore when we give space to these stories, we do not not take seriously. It was therefore a great opportunity to speak in a safe space.
Personal and Sociopolitical Transformation Through the Successes and Difficulties of Community Art – Anne-Céline Genevois, Danielle Gratton and Jill Samborsky | Collectif Art Entr’elles
Using testimonials from three community artists, this presentation discussed two projects: Décliner votre identité, a collective creation made up of eleven audio-photographic self-portraits around the theme of identity, and Double peine, a short documentary on the challenges of the social reintegration of a woman after judicialization. The objective of their presentation was to offer a field vision of community art and show the impact of the projects carried out. In collaboration with the Elizabeth Fry Society, it was with the desire to establish dialogues about criminalized women in the community and to break down prejudices that the idea of using art emerged. Céline Genevois spoke of the fallout, which is in the order of individual and collective transformations, as well as the balance of decision-making power between the people involved in the projects.
Then, Jill Samborsky testified about her participation in the project Décliner votre identité, in which she participated during a difficult time in her life. While hesitant and embarrassed at first, she participated in the meetings that were held twice a week in the summer of 2014. The first exercises were to learn to express yourself through art and get to know yourself. Then the group of women started working on the project, where they each had to stage a photograph with an object, as well as a prose. She explains her approach and the elements of her work (a photo of herself), emphasizing the importance of collaborative work and the presence of other women in the making of her own photo.
Finally, Danielle Gratton spoke about her participation in the Double peine project, a documentary on the journeys of women who have been in prison. While initially she did not want to be part of the documentary, she chose to participate, in order to talk about the reality that women experience when they leave prison: it is, as the title suggests, a double sentence, because in addition to the sentence served in prison, they face judgment and difficulties in rebuilding their lives. The process of this project was fraught with pitfalls, including the resignation of the professional artist, but they persisted, and she is proud to present a narrative that traces the difficulties of judicialization.
In conclusion, it emerges that professional artists often experience disputes with participants, especially over aesthetic choices, and it is difficult for them to accept that the project ultimately belongs to the community. In addition, knowing that the priorities of the Élizabeth Fry Society are at the level of intervention, and not of art, a major challenge concerns the need to maintain the integrity of works, while prioritizing intervention. Obtaining funding for projects as well as their dissemination are also important issues.
Stories and Creative Process of the artwork Land of my Body – Tracy Gregory | ArmHer Collective
This video conference presentation from Sudbury, Ontario, discussed the community art project resulting from a partnership between Sex Workers Advisory Network Sudbury (SWANS) and Myths and Mirrors. Tracy Gregory explained the background to the formation of the ArmHer collective: SWANS members wanted their voices included in conversations about the sex work industry, as they saw that the people who speak out about these realities do not speak out of their experience. Their goal was to be better represented in all their diversity and to help eliminate stigma against sex workers. The use of art was first for them to have a conversation with each other – they created a safe environment to come together and share experiences. With the element of shame very present, it was the first time they had been able to share, and to heal. The creation process, as it was based on consensus, took a long time. All creators are considered equal.
The video accompanying the installation Land of my Body includes a monologue written by Sarah Gartshore, based on the testimonies of the women, all of whom are indigenous. The creation process was iterative, she returned the texts to the women, who commented in order to edit them, and so on until the words corresponded to what they really meant.
I love you: an expression of « I » and « We » – Daniel-Claude Gendron | COCQ-SIDA
Daniel-Claude Gendron first presented the various artistic projects he has led, the process of making the work, the context of creation, and the concerns of people living with HIV. There was the Super Séropo comic strip and art therapy workshops at Maison Plein-Cœur. Gendron analyzes the different paintings produced as part of these activities, and describes the different characteristics of the participants according to their contribution to the works – each has played a specific role in collective art. In conclusion, we were able to hear the words of the people who participated in the creation of the dytic Je t’aime, in 2007, in order to come back to the event, 10 years later.
My body, my story: testimonials from women living with HIV – Marilou Gagnon
Two body mapping workshops were organized with the International Community of Women Living With HIV (ICW+), to allow women to share their experiences of antiretroviral treatment and its side effects. After describing what body mapping is and the methodological, ethical, and practical aspects of the workshops, Marilou Gagnon presented the lessons learned through the use of this method.
In this project, Gagnon contributed her research expertise on the side effects of taking medication. While women are particularly affected by side effects, these are not well known. Her research aimed to explore these side effects, using methods other than traditional qualitative methods. Her colleagues, Carmen Logie and Jessica Withbread, had backgrounds in the artistic field. Body mapping is an arts-based participatory approach that emerged in the early 2000s in South Africa, particularly among women living with HIV. This method allows you to tell yourself in a chronological trajectory in five stages: the outline of the body, the feet, the head, the path from the feet to the head, and the body (what happens inside). The role of the facilitators was one of facilitation, there was a great collaboration between the team and the participants.
Following the workshops, for the writing of the report, Gagnon wrote a story that encompasses the stories of all the women – for example, they talked a lot about their accomplishments. She now wonders about the material aspects of the workshops, and notes that there is a need for more literature on this method. She concludes that this project has great strength in being able to collect testimonies in a different way, but what would be ideal is to recreate the experience in a community context rather than a research context.