After being arrested and fined $100 for casting a vote as a woman in 1873, Susan B. Anthony gave a speech in which she said, “The only question left to be settled now is: Are women persons?”

In that same speech she included how America’s democracy was clouded by delusions of liberty, wherein only white men were legally allowed to exercise their freedom to participate in the decisions made in order to uphold the freedom of all American citizens. In that same speech she compared women and African-Americans as second class citizens, whose true birthright were equal to those of white men.

It has been the American ideal to secure a nation that stood for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But from its constitutional inception, it is evident that this declaration is an ideal to strive for, yet never to fully actualize. There are many factors that create these injustices. And America is not unique. Racism and gender inequality have existed in all cultures throughout history. There is one primary factor that has upheld this system for millennia. Both slavery and gender inequality are the result of objectification.

The question that Susan B. Anthony posed addressed the issue of objectification. That objectification is defined by degrading the full rights and independence of an individual to becoming subservient to the will of those of a higher status. Objectifying a person removes their personhood. By removing the humanness from a person, it allows one to exploit that person as an object, without challenging one’s morality. If you’re just an object, then my degrading behavior toward you is clean from a crime against humanity.

In extreme examples, we have seen objectification of Jews by the Nazis. Mein Kampf and the Nazi party promulgated the notion that Jews were not even human beings. Early American eugenic scientists set the foundation of this philosophy in trying to create science-based racism, to classify the “negroe” as a different species. Slavery has been and continues to be the prime result of this objectifying mentality. But this mentality appears in less obvious ways. In more common and socially accepted examples, we see objectification through sexual exploitation of women in their roles in media.

As a society and as individuals we remove the person from Form to righteously impose our will upon another’s freedom. 2020 will mark the centennial of the women’s right to vote. Yet, we are still far from treating women as equals, which is to say, allowing them to exercise power that will influence society and shape the vision of our culture.

Women in Windows quite literally is a window into these issues, but also a window into the personhood of a woman. Imitating the same forms that commercial industries have used to exploit the female body, six female artists have produced films that will be displayed in windows along Chung King Road in downtown Los Angeles.

Women have been framed in advertising on billboards, peep shows, and on the film screen. Women in Windows reclaims that framework by presenting women’s creativity, personality, intelligence, values, and individuality.

Women in Windows is curated by Zehra Ahmed. The artists include: Alima Lee, Arshia Fatima Haq, Gazelle Samizay, Jasdeep Kang, Muna Malik and Yumna Al-Arashi.

GARDEN, 2017

BY ALIMA LEE

ALIMA LEE by Zoe D. Lawrence

Garden by Alima Lee begins with melody and poetry, as a voice whispers ‘farewell the flower that did not sprout.’ Deeply meditative, the video functions as an emotional and unfiltered window on the daily life of a black woman, as she goes along with her daily rituals in order to overcome anxiety and depression. Seemingly mundane tasks, such as daily skin care, eating and dancing, become essential to her survival. While the protagonist struggles and faces challenges, she persists and overcomes, thriving and growing; offering hope.”

ARSHIA HAQ by Yumna Al-Arashi

THE ASCENSION, 2018

BY ARSHIA FATIMA HAQ in collaboration with CASSILS

In The Ascension, Arshia Haq uses the symbol of the Buraq, an Islamic mythical being – part female, part horse – to explore personal and worldly contradictions around depiction and making. The Buraq, as an ice sculpture, slowly melts in front of the viewer as the artist, in silent devotion, works to gild it with gold leaf – long a mode of making in Islamic miniature and calligraphic art. As the Buraq seems to be vulnerable to outside forces, the act of making becomes a healing mechanism, enshrining it in posterity. Ultimately, however, the viewer and the artist must also resolve the paradox of trying to preserve the divine.

This piece was originally created under the name Fanaa and conceptualized in response to the artist Cassils’ seminal work Tiresias; an invitation for three artists to create works in ice exploring themes of ephemerality, devotion and perseverance. The Ascension was originally shown as part of a four-channel work entitled Solution, alongside works by Cassils, Rafa Esparza, and Keijaun Thomas.”

RAVEL, 2014

BY GAZELLE SAMIZAY

GAZELLE SAMIZAY by Heather Bejar

Gazelle Samizay’s Ravel is set in a unnamed desert landscape. A lone woman, adorned with empty glass vessels, drags her burden through the sand behind her, as she seeks to find her own way. The landscape is desolate and somber and devoid of any other life. A complementing narrative reveals the tree holding the same vessels out of reach on its branches, acting as a relic of unfulfilled hopes and dreams, hanging in limbo between creation and completion. Taken together, these two shots juxtapose the contradiction and anxiety between aspiration and the challenges a woman may face in achieving success.”

PHIRAN WALI (THE GIRL WHO WALKS), 2019

BY JASDEEP KANG

JASDEEP KANG by Pragya Bhatt

Jasdeep Kang’s Phiran Wali (The Girl Who Walks) uses notions of time and sound to investigate displacement and identity for the diasporic female body. Taking place in Yuba City, CA, the camera pans across the body of a female subject as she navigates her way through the landscape, both free and entrapped. The transient sound acts as an important layer in the work and assumes the role of a dialogue between the viewer, filmmaker and the subject in the film.”

MUNA MALIK by Glentrez Thornton

ARE YOU HERE, 2019

BY MUNA MALIK

Muna Malik begins her organic collage of cinema vérité, performance art and written word, Are You Here, with an extended filmic shot of a woman on the Los Angeles metro. Her work focuses on the psychological and self-revelatory exploration of identity and reflection. Viewers are confronted with the inner thoughts and angsty psyche of a woman unfolding before them, as she reflects on the nature of existence, isolation and community in a contemporary western urban setting.”

SHEDDING SKIN, 2017

BY YUMNA AL-ARASHI

YUMNA AL-ARASHI - No Photo Credit

“Yumna Al Arashi’s Shedding Skin takes as its jumping off point the harem; long a representation for the Orientalist gaze where the desire has been to unveil and save the brown women. Using the homosocial nature of interaction amongst the women in these private spaces, the filmmaker meditates on the nature of subjugation by this very western gaze that seeks to destroy and control the body of the other. Through a close look and using the same tools of representation, she reveals the similarity in humanity amongst these women, in their gestures of affection to each other and their interaction. She realizes her own role as a diasporic woman and her metaphorical coming-home to this culture.”

Women in Windows

Windows along Chung King Road, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Exhibition Dates

February 26 – March 17, 2019

Public Party

Saturday, March 2, 2019 – 7:00 – 10:00PM
Chung King Studio, 975 Chung King Road, LA, CA 90012

FILM LOCATIONS

Garden, by Alima Lee – in the windows of Imprint Projects and Chungking Studio
The Ascension, by Arshia Fatima Haq/Cassils – in the windows of Poetic Research Bureau
Ravel, by Gazelle Samizay – in the windows of Lisa Derrick Fine Arts
Phiran Wali (The Girl Who Walks), by Jasdeep Kang – in the windows of Automata Arts
Are You Here, by Muna Malik – in the windows of Preen Inc.
Shedding Skin, by Yumna Al-Arashi – in the windows of The Institute for Art and Olfaction