Ellen Malos discusses Sistershow - artistic protest

Description

English

Ellen Malos talks about using humour and satire to disrupt conventional protests and negotiations.

Sistershow

Sistershow was a Bristol-based theatre collective that emerged from the Women’s Liberation Movement in 1973. Activists Pat VT West and Jackie Thrupp made disruptive and satirical appearances at literary festivals, conventions and meetings. They sought to subvert established patriarchal dialogues and provoke political questions about the experience and place of women in the arts, and in society at large. Ellen Malos comments that it was not always easy to continue serious discussions when proceedings were interrupted by theatrical forms of protest, raising an important question about tactics and strategy in different contexts.

In 2011 Centrespace Gallery in Bristol held an exhibition called Sistershow Revisited that looked at the history and legacy of Sistershow. The group was documented by feminist Debi Withers, who maintains a Sistershow Revisited blog. Humour can be a powerful political tool and feminists sometimes harnessed wit, satire and subversion to challenge social norms. The irreverent humour of contemporary women comedians such as Julie Walters, Victoria Wood, Jessica Hynes, Shappi Khorsandi, Olivia Colman and Julia Davies owe a great deal to the WLM and the cultural changes that the movement engendered.

Can you think of a time when humour or comedy has been used to challenge conventional ways of thinking about relationships between women and men (TV programmes, films, cartoons)? Which have been most successful in your view?

Do you think humour needs to deal with serious ideas to be effective?

Transcript

Transcript

There was another occasion when there was a discussion at Bath, part of the Bath Festival, about John Berger’s views of women, and it was called Women and Art or something. John Berger was one of the speakers, there was some other guy whose name I’ve forgotten. And Monica [Sjoo], who had a particular view of women in art, obviously. And also of, you know, Monica was a mother goddess person, you know, so she was fairly different. But, what happened was, Pat [van Twest] and Jackie [Thrupp] appeared, this time behind the curtain somehow; the curtain got pulled back. And there was Pat naked, and Jackie doing body painting on her. And, you know, they proclaimed something like, ‘This is women and art,’ or, ‘This is art,’ or, something of that kind. As far as I recall it now, because we’d turned up to give Monica support obviously, and, as far as I recall it now, almost the whole of the discussion took place about that, whether that was art, what did it mean, etc, etc. And Monica was furious because she wanted to talk about her ideas about women and art.
Title:
Ellen Malos discusses Sistershow - artistic protest
Date:
24 - 26 October 2010
Duration:
1:24
Format:
Sound recording
Language:
English
Collection:
Sisterhood and After: The Women's Liberation Oral History Project
Copyright:
© British Library
Held by
British Library
Shelfmark:
C1420/06

Full catalogue details

Related articles

Feminist visual arts

Article by:
Sisterhood and After Research Team
Theme:
Changing cultures and the arts

The Women’s Liberation Movement used posters, slogans, film, painting and photography to propagate their ideas. But what is feminist art? Find out more about the artists, mediums and theory of 1970s feminism.

Changing cultures and the arts

Article by:
Sisterhood and After Research Team
Theme:
Changing cultures and the arts

Feminists of the Women’s Liberation Movement set up theatre companies, film groups, artist collectives and publishing houses that supported campaigns and questioned political culture. Discover the ways in which women’s liberation created change through the power of opinions and ideas.

Related collection items

Related people