One Discipline: Cheer up Luv in conversation with Curated by Girls
Culture — 23.09.19
Words and Creative Direction: Rhianedd Dancey
Photography: Emma Harries & Melie Hirtz
Styling: Carine Malonda
Beauty: Iga Vasylczuk & Ludivine Francois
Curated by Girls is a creative platform founded by Laetitia Duveau, driving a mission to celebrate femininity and empowerment through diversity and equality. Creating platforms for emerging and established artists through a string of international exhibitions, shows and events. Cheer up Luv is an ongoing photojournalism series vocalising women’s documentation of sexual harassment, a platform created by Eliza Hatch. Kicking off a series of interviews between like-minded creatives, they discuss the importance of promoting storytelling through creative disciplines and projecting voice through expression.
Laetitia: Did it feel like an urge to give a voice to harassed women?
Eliza: When I initially started the campaign I would have conversations with my male friends about harassment, and they didn’t seem to understand at all what we were going through on a day to day basis. They were misguided enough to challenge us. There is a complete lack of awareness surrounding the subject and conversations like these were not happening enough. This is when I decided I wanted to try and combat the normalisation of sexual harassment, and open up a dialogue about the issue.
Eliza: Do you think there is a lack of diversity and representation within creative spaces?
Laetitia: Lack of diversity is real, especially in the art world where female artists remain dramatically underrepresented and undervalued in museums. Predominantly the white upper-class male occupies 70% of the gallery world – even though 51% of visual artists are women. And this lack of diversity in art has nothing to do with lack of talent. It’s a consequence of male-dominated history and the fact that we still live in a male-dominated market which dictates when who, how and what art is.
Eliza: How can we combat this issue?
Laetitia: Highlighting conversations, identity issues, and inequalities, through art can have a big impact. Showing diversity on a larger scale is also important. We need to define innovative ways of improving inclusiveness and diversity. More diverse decision-makers in the art and cultural sectors; curators, gallery owners, women of colour and queer or trans women of colour owners to occupy the creative scene.
Laetitia: In your work, you portrait a more authentic version of womanhood. Do you see fashion and brands evolving in that direction or is it just a trend?
Eliza: It’s currently happening as society slowly becomes more woke. However a ‘token’ feel still remains, rather than a genuine representation of all types of womanhood. We are still in the early days, it’s going to take a few years to break the stereotypical supermodel default that we have all become accustomed to seeing in magazines our whole lives.
Laetitia: How did your UNFPA x Cheer up Luv Collaboration start and how would you like it to develop?
Eliza: The UNFPA shared the statistics of a study they did in Sri Lanka, discovering that 90% of women experience sexual harassment on public transport. We created a social campaign to photograph, interview and film 16 women about their experiences, and publish a different story every day during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. We also created a short film, and the campaign then developed offline to incorporate bus stop posters and an interactive exhibition space where we hosted workshops and spoke to bus conductors about the issue. We then projection-mapped the entire campaign onto the Colombo Town Hall for International Women’s Day. This project was definitely one of the most challenging yet rewarding things that I have done in my career so far, and my plans are to continue my relationship with the UNFPA and travel to more countries and create more awareness campaigns.
Laetitia: How integral is storytelling in the work you do and the topics you tackle?
Eliza: Storytelling is imperative to the work that I do because it has created a network of women who have found solidarity with one another through shared experiences. The relate-ability of each woman’s story creates a sense of community within my social platform, which in turn encourages more women to speak out and share their own stories. One of the great things about social media is how it allows for easier communication about difficult topics, whilst introducing you to millions of people all over the world in similar situations.
Laetitia: We have reinvented a way to communicate ideas, due to new ways of communicating. Thanks to the internet, we are more informed. With Curated by Girls, I do feel that sharing people’s personal stories has a lot of impact because it is honest and real. And of course, the audience will connect even more to those who have the courage to reveal their vulnerability to empower others. People want to hear stories they can relate to, and tend to focus on topics that touch them, emotionally…and brands have noticed how efficient it is to reach people’s empathy. The danger is the abuse of trying to reach the audience. Cause then it becomes un-authentic. And what is overused doesn’t have an impact anymore. We need to go back a little, to the core, the essence of who we are.