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Imagining Feminist Futures Through Artivism

In just over a month nearly two thousand individuals from diverse cultural and political spheres and social movements will gather together in Bahia, Brazil for the upcoming AWID Forum.

Over the years, in my own life, the AWID Forum has come to symbolise a space marked by incredible intellectual inspiration and unmatched learning, renewed and rejuvenated friendships (and the building of new ones), creative and collective visioning, organising opportunity and memory making.

The Forum as a “process,” an “event” and an “experience” has marked moments in both my activist and artistic life that I still hold on to.

While the forum has traditionally been a programmed space with sessions and plenaries and dialogues and debates, what I have loved the most have been the open spaces that have allowed me to create – to be part of a collective building; the organic moments where human beings have shared of themselves creatively and colourfully.

These are the moments. These are the memories.

The moments when a group of young feminists start dancing in the hallway because – MOVEMENT; the moments when sisters burst into song because - SOUND; the moments when visual artists pull out coloured pencils and paint and start creating because – COLOUR; moments like hearing Shailja Patel’s powerful poetry on the stage at the 2008 forum Cape Town because – WORD.

These are the moments. These are the memories.

This year AWID is making an extraordinary effort to intentionally support art and creative expression at the Forum.

This year’s Forum program is intended to fortify through art, culture, technology and creative expression, the means by which activists can forge alliances, learn, celebrate activist creativity, and ultimately advance our feminist and cross-movement work.

In addition to key collaborative and generative learning processes facilitated by individual artists and groups, the forum will also feature elements such as feminist theatre and cabaret, poetry and spoken word performances, multiple curated visual art exhibits, film screenings, musical performances, contemporary and traditional dance and other creative expressions.

There will also be spaces for people to just be…to just make…to just explore their own creativity.

As part of this effort, and in the lead up to the Forum AWID is leading a series of pre-forum conversations (podcasts) with artivists and donors who are supporting activists that are using art and creative expression in their organising. We hope to learn more about the ways that activists across social movements are using art to conjure fresh perspectives and new ideas, and exploring new ways of working with each other.

In addition to these conversations, we will be sharing more about some of the incredible artists helping to co-create the forum on our Tumblr page

At AWID we believe that these expressions will create the opportunity to prompt and inform fresh thinking around the Forum theme “Feminist Futures”. So whether you are coming to the forum in Bahia or not, we encourage you to engage with the material, be inspired, submit your own work, and join the conversation around the ways that art can help to envision diverse and inclusive ‘Feminist Futures.’

AWID Forum