“Social justice is ‘in’ in the art world.” – @billythecamera

Social justice is defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “a state or doctrine of egalitarianism (Egalitarianism defined as 1: a belief in human equality especially with respect to social, political, and economic affairs; 2: a social philosophy advocating the removal of inequalities among people).”

In their attempt to create an event surrounding the overarching theme of “social justice,” it seems Galerie F has instead created an event lacking equality when it comes to their representation of artists. Their “Social Justice” art show features a line up of 20+ men to 1 female. There are also concerns that the gallery, which has not been known for supporting social justice movements, is capitalizing off the work of these movements.

The debate brought up several questions, including:

  • How are women/queer artists going to be valued if galleries continue to focus on male-centric shows?
  • What are the parameters for curating a socially responsible “social justice” art show?
  • When female/queer artists are still struggling to be equally recognized for their work, is it ever defensible to have any art show dominated by men?

Comments by local artists and social justice activists (posted publicly on the gallery’s event page) include:

Galerie F’s response to inquiry from Gozamos

Thank you for your email. I am really glad you reached out to us for this. I am sure you can imagine that this show has ignited a lot of passionate conversation and it means so much to me that you value our perspective on this.

First and foremost, we invited at least four times the amount of artists that are featured on the line-up. As much as it would be a dream to work with every artist we invite to participate in our shows, the reality of every exhibition is that a small percentage accepts; whether it’s that they don’t have time in their schedule or that they have no interest in the theme, is different from artist to artist. You can know for sure that we also would have liked to see more diversity in our line-up but I’m proud of the artists we’re working with and don’t wish to diminish their perspectives, accomplishments and ultimately their work by saying this exhibition is irrelevant because Galerie F wasn’t able to cast every role, even when we tried.

We have reached out to many women artists for this exhibition! We are even working on getting a “queer womon of color” into the show, even before these questions were asked of us. Her work focuses on gender identity and she is an active participant in GLTBQ – we would love for her to participate and share her gorgeous works but at the end of the day our only aim was to provide a platform for those who wish to participate – no matter who they are. Every individual on this planet deserves to be accounted for so that we may all better understand and accept each other.

On that note, I would like to point out that “Social Justice” is the overarching theme. The show encompasses a huge variety of of relevant societal conflicts from body image issues, slumlords and politics to women’s rights, racial conflicts and Native American rights. Yes, queer womyn of color were/are invited to participate but we also wanted this exhibition to be open to all facets of social issues which make-up the bigger picture of our culture and humanity as a whole.

You are always welcome to ask questions and if you would prefer an interview with myself or the owner (Billy Craven), I’d be happy to schedule one. We both will be available at the exhibition opening for conversation – as that is the very point of the event. We are putting our heart into better supporting our community and look forward to future suggestions and collaborations.

 

What do you think about this event and the concerns it raises? Leave your comments below.

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