Feature Segment: The Garneau Sisterhood
Posters from the first Garneau Sisterhood campaign in the fall and summer of 2008.
What this weeks feature is going to show is that Edmonton has an active femminist community that is willing to take to the streets with the tools of art to confront problems and build solutions. There are many more examples than what we are going to feature this week and trying to even encompass it all would be daunting task so we are going to focus specifically on the Garneau Sisterhood. Here is a description of the Garneau Sisterhood in their own words in a VUE article from June 11 2008.
Following the recent string of sexual assaults in the Garneau area perpetrated by a man breaking into women’s homes when they are alone at night, women in the area are being warned to “lock their doors and windows” to stay safe. Not only will tips like this not keep us safe, they perpetuate a culture of fear. Women in the area would like to issue their own warning … to the perpetrator: we are organizing and we are channeling our fear.
You can read more about the Garneau Sisterhood here. We have received permission to use these posters but have been asked to make it known that they are no longer active. The pictures posted this week span from 2008 to 2010. These few pictures will not accuratley represent how they impacted the street level visual culture of that area with a commanding prescen for such a sustained time. When they first emerged thier presence was bold thus both comforting and shocking to many but by 2010 thier prescene, and the message associated to it, felt normal in that area. But it cant be denied that these posters were often attacked whether by buffing crews or those who felt uncomfortable with them, but many sustained those attacks in high visibility areas and demonstrated a beautiful form a resilient protest or solidarity. The Garneau Sisterhood has been credited in a Chapter by Lise Gotell in the book ‘The Story of Jane Doe: A Book About Rape‘
The Garneau Sisterhood’s campaign, conducted anonymously and without links to established organizations, interrupts these neoliberal technologies by calling upon women to actively reject their assigned role as safety-conscious victims-in-waiting. This campaign was marked by great irreverence and a DIY (“do it yourself”) style of direct activism that is characteristic of third wave feminism. In its creative and edgy challenge to risk management discourses, the Garneau Sisterhood demonstrates the strategic importance of extra-legal feminist struggles within the difficult context of neoliberal governance.
This weeks feature post is meant to remind or introduce you to this feminist action that existed in our city and had a substantive impact on those living here and to comment that it is very possible for small groups of people to have substantive influence over our communities, for both good and bad, through our shared space and visual culture.