Public museums and art galleries in Canada are highly authoritative, and trusted knowledge and identity mobilising institutions, whose exhibitions are frequently a ‘blank page’ of erasure, silencing, and marginalisation, in terms of women’s histories, experiences, and contributions. Feminist exhibitions are a response to this, but few in Canada have been explored as practices of feminist community adult education. I begin to address this gap with an analysis of two feminist exhibitions: In Defiance: Indigenous Women Define Themselves
, curated by Mohawk-Iroquois artist, Lindsay Katsitsakatste Delaronde, at the Legacy Gallery, University of Victoria; and Fashion Victims: The Pleasures & Perils of Dress in the 19th Century
, curated by Ryerson Professor Alison Matthews David, at the Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto. Although dissimilar in form, focus, and era, these exhibitions act as powerful intentional pedagogical processes of disruption and reclamation, using images and storytelling to animate, re-write and reimagine the ‘blank pages’ of particular and particularised histories and identities. Through the centrality of women’s bodies and practices of violence, victimization, and women’s power, these exhibitions encourage the feminist oppositional imagination, dialogic looking, gender consciousness, and a visual literacy of hope and possibility. Yet, as women’s stories become audible through the very representational vehicles and institutional spaces used to silence them, challenges remain.
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