THE GATHERING PROJECT
Collaborative research project with Maipelo Gabang in Gaborone, Botswana
May 28 - June 7, 2019
There have been concerted efforts in recent years towards establishing equitable environments and practices especially towards women, in all parts of the world. With that, there has been a surge in ‘women-centred’ proceedings and assemblies that range in their scope of approach, focus, and application of principles. Irrespective of the variations, a striking similarity in all these efforts is the need for women to gather, engage in conversation and establish meaningful connections. These connections can serve many a purpose but their longevity is grounded in the understanding of reciprocity. However, within this global society, we often forget that those we may share sentiments and struggles are operating within differing parameters which subsequently influence their personal motivations to gather, engage in conversation and exchange. Therefore, sincere reciprocity can only take place with a genuine understanding of the people, place, and practices. In order to facilitate this process and the underlying objectives, we have chosen to use the convention of the ‘Bachelorette Party’ as the supporting frame.
This project investigates the ritual of participation and social gathering built up by women in local communities. We analyse social patterns of meetings and events, the means of acquiring permission and accessibility, the manners/performativity of speaking, listening, caring, and relating to others. The aim of this phase is to identify, experiment and develop the process and working methods that will establish the project frame (Bachelorette Party), project theme (the gathering of women) and its extended content and objectives within the chosen contexts (Botswana and Sweden).
At the intersection of being artists, women, and people of colour, with unconventional exposure to and command over several cultures, ideologies and languages we have the ability to occupy multifarious positions which oscillate between being invisible to being hyper-visible depending on the context. Our collaboration is rooted in evoking the spirit of inquiry, negotiating complexity and provoking expression in order to transcend the familiar ways of thoughts that often lead to the lack of social cohesion. The ‘Bachelorette Party’ has become an adopted practice alongside more traditional means of pre-wedding activities and formalities the world over by women of differing demographics noticeable those of culture and social classes. Within the respective social contexts the Bachelorette Party can be re-imagined to suit the conventions and traditions of the time and place but at its core, it retains its purpose of the council, celebration an acknowledgement towards the next phase of a woman’s life. Often than not the Bachelorette Party is one of the few ritualised practices where women are able to go out, meet other women and most noticeably detach from gender norms, social rules, and restrictive behavioural expectations. Reciprocity is a vital building block of social cohesion however the traditional relationships and roles that women accumulate over years tend to lack this necessity which can undermine the sense of self-worth and limit progress beyond the domestic realm. In male-dominant cultures and contexts that limit extended expressions of feminine identities or limit the ability of others to recognise and accept these extensions, the ever-evolving Bachelorette Party and similar respective traditional practices can become a way to subvert/disrupt the behaviours and accompanying actions that contribute to normalising the need for unreciprocated domestic labour (house + emotional work) which is often rendered invisible yet obligatory.
supported by IASPIS/Swedish Arts Grants Committee