I recently paid a visit to one of my favourite museums in Paris, the Musée Carnavalet, to see its latest exhibition about the history of feminism in Paris. Specifically, how Parisiennes have been fighting for their rights since the French Revolution. As with all of my museum visits, I was blown away by how much I learned. For example, I had no idea that French women did not gain the right to vote until 1944. As in, France was in the middle of a war, and somehow that became the backdrop for granting all its citizens their suffrage rights. Incredible.
There was a lot of artwork on display throughout the exhibition, but I was particularly taken by Feminist Hands #4 by Esther Ferrer. The image of holding two hands together, like in the photo above, was a common symbol of the feminist movements of the 70s and 80s, and there are countless photos of women marching through Paris holding their hands above them making this shape. The image above was my favourite artistic rendering of this iconic symbol.
I sometimes despair at the state of the world and just how much there still is to fight for. Sometimes I grow weary of the mere fact that we have to keep fighting at all. But as I walked through this exhibition, it suddenly hit me that nearly every single woman standing next to me, old or young, was wearing pants. And that was completely normal. It wasn’t all that long ago that that would have been very much not okay. It’s a small thing, the right to wear pants. But it was also a powerful reminder that change is possible. You just have to keep fighting.
Suggestions for artists I should check out? Please contact me with your ideas. I hope you enjoyed your daily helping of art!