Womxn in Windows. Groundbreaking art.
The Seaport’s commitment to the arts remains strong this summer, in collaboration with the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s River to River Festival. The Womxn in Windows exhibition is a pioneering video installation that explores society’s influence on female identity. The work of five womxn artists from diverse cultural backgrounds are playing in windows and storefronts of the Seaport, challenging passersby to stop and reflect on their perceptions of femininity.
Here, Womxn in Windows founder and curator Zehra Ahmed and two of the artists featured in the exhibition share the stories behind their work.
Curator Zehra Ahmed
What was the initial inspiration for Womxn in Windows?
We are living in an age of extreme identity politics and social polarization. As the walls of our echo chambers grow higher I often think about how I can create punctures in these walls for cross cultural dialogue.
Womxn in Windows was born from that desire — to engage with womxn, specifically across cultures, and to share their perspectives on identity, culture and society with a wider audience.
I believe that culture can transform our relationships. Now, more than ever, it is necessary to share our cultures; to learn from one another’s experiences and to unite people globally.
What is the significance of the window in this project?
Windows have always been portals for consumption but also desire. Our societies have encouraged consumption, especially that of the female body, but they have seldom made room for our desires or encouraged us to speak out. For me, the window is a portal into the mind of womxn, a journey where the viewer can learn a little more about someone else, and in doing so, learn about themselves. The window is a portal to explore the multiple identities that live inside each of us.
How did you select the artists featured in this exhibition?
The primary reason for choosing this group of artists was their work itself. The nuances, intentions and deep exploration of self in each work. It is important for the artist to identify as a womxn, which includes cis, non-binary and trans. Each artist for this specific show is American by birth, but also of many other cultural backgrounds, upbringings and multiple identities.
What do you hope to inspire in people who encounter Womxn in Windows in the Seaport?
I would hope that people will encounter something different than the perspectives they interact with on a daily basis; something that makes them a little more curious about the differences between each of us. I also hope that an artist or story might resonate with them, and give them the opportunity to explore their own thoughts and perspectives.
This show is about celebrating difference, because we believe that individual differences advance societal strength, and we truly believe that learning from one another’s cultures and experiences contributes towards a transformative humanity of equality, freedom and respect.
Artist Jazmin Garcia
Film: Flor de Azalea, 2017
What appealed to you about Womxn in Windows?
I was happy to participate in this project alongside other incredible filmmakers. I made this short for my mother, as a way to express the respect, care, and love I have for her in the best way I know how. When I was asked to share this short film for the screenings in June, I was even more thrilled because it coincided with my mother’s birthday, and what better way to honor her than to display her beautiful story for New Yorkers to view. I love that my mother’s origins in Culiacan, Sinaloa, are on view on the streets of NYC.
What message do you hope to convey to those who see your film?
I hope people walk away with a sense of renewed pride and empathy for the journeys of our parents, especially those with immigrant backgrounds. I also hope it instills a spark in people to want to be more curious about their parents and their past lives. If we don’t preserve our histories, nobody will.
Artist Jasdeep Kang
Film: Phiran Wali (A Girl Who Walks), 2019
Why did you want to be a part of this project?
Having a curator like Zehra — who can really see the nuance and intention behind the messaging of my work — was really empowering and exciting for me as an artist. I’m always thrilled to collaborate with WxW because of their values and perspective on curating.
What is the significance of the window for you?
One of my favorite things to do at night is walk through the city and stop by windows that bring me into other worlds. Having my work displayed in a window is like looking into a portal of time and space. My piece explores fantasy and escape, I feel that looking into a window and witnessing a piece with that intention is exactly how I’d like my work to be received.
What do you hope people who encounter Womxn in Windows come away feeling?
I hope people get a chance to imagine another time and space. I hope they feel a little more free, and that they connect with some unknown desires that are calling for them. I hope they walk away reimagining what independence looks like for them.
Womxn in Windows is on show throughout the Seaport, 24 hours a day, through June 27.
Womxn in Windows is co-presented by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) and The Howard Hughes Corporation at the Seaport.