Film Review: !WAR: Women Art Revolution

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<p>
<em>!WAR: ! Women Art
Revolution</em>
<br />
<a target=”_blank” title=”Available soon on ZeitgeistFilms” href=”http://womenartrevolution.com/contact_details.php”>Available soon on ZeitgeistFilms</a>
</p>
<p>Imagine
wandering through an art gallery, ignoring the art and instead tallying the
number of female artists on display. It may seem strange, but that’s exactly
what a group of women did in the late 1960s. Their findings–that women had been
almost completely excluded from the gallery system–were not entirely surprising.</p>
<p>The
group formed a coalition, Women Artists in Revolution, and the feminist art
movement was born. For the next 40 years, artist Lynn Hershman Leeson recorded
snippets of it, documenting art by women and interviewing any female artists,
curators and art historians she could find. Leeson accumulated over twelve
thousand minutes of video and archived nearly one thousand still images. <em>!WAR</em> is the condensed version of this
lively history. </p>
<p>The
documentary’s main strength lies in putting feminist artwork into context. “You
have to ask yourself why it was necessary for [feminist artists] to do this in
the first place,” says Leeson. Through archival footage and interviews, <em>!WAR</em> illustrates just how difficult it
was for women (who have since become the foundation for feminist art practice)
to get into galleries, much less art history books. </p>
<p>

</p>
<p>”As
an undergraduate at Harvard
University [in the early
1980s],” says art historian Amelia Jones, “I don’t think there was a single
woman artist whose work was discussed in any one of my classes.” Thankfully,
things have changed. <em>!WAR</em> shows how women exposed and subverted the
system that decides what artwork gets recognized and remembered. In revealing this, the documentary becomes more engaging than any textbook chapter on the
feminist movement.</p>
<p>Anyone
who lived this movement will enjoy <em>!WAR</em>,
but those that didn’t are the ones who most need to watch it. We need to see
life breathed back into feminism, see its passion and creative problem-solving
made contagious. We need to be reminded that feminism was once <em>cool</em> and, though gains have been made,
the fight for equality is not over.</p>
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