FEM! Today’s feminist artists

Maria Arnal, Flavita Banana, Mar C. Llop, Yolanda Domínguez, Julia González, Agnés Mateus, Marga Mbande, Andrea Btoy, Lali Álvarez, Bianca Batlle Nguema, Sònia Gómez, Núria Guiu, Maria Isern, Silvia Albert Sopale, María Cañas, Miriam Reyes, Maria Sevilla

What imageries are currently proposing feminist artists? What challenges and opportunities does feminism propose from the cultural world? On October 31st, 2019, the magazine IDEES and the CCCB organized an artistic event that gathered around twenty leading artitsts in the CCCB’s lobby space, in front of a packed crowd. Poetry, dance, music, monologues, humour and even graffiti and live painting took the stage to celebrate and to claim creativity. The event, curated by Núria Vergés and Mireia Calafell, was the first activity of the #47 issue of the magazine IDEES, dedicated to feminisms. At the same time, it was part of the cycle “The words we are still lacking”, included in the CCCB’s exhibition and program of activities about feminisms.

Presentation of IDEES 47

The evening started with Las Glorias cabareteras, a comic duet formed by Glòria Martínez and Marta Bernal, which combines classic cabaret features with some ‘trashy’ look. With humour and irreverence, as well as an unmistakable style, they were in charge for conducting the show. Next, it was the turn of the coordinators of Núria Vergés and Mireia Calafell, to present the project and to introduce the authors and articles included in IDEES #47 issue.

Núria Vergés and Mireia Calafell, coordinators of the IDEES magazine 47 issue, presented the project at the beginning of the show

The first of the artists to go on stage was the photographer Mar C. Llop, who spoke about her personal experience as a transgender woman and stressed the transition process she carried on. At the same time, she explained with images some of her photographic projects, in which she portrays transgender people. It was then the turn of the poets Maria Sevilla Paris, Miriam Reyes and Maria Isern, who recited several poems in a choral way. Their performance caused long applause from the audience. During the breaks between the performances, DJ Sonido Tupinamba livened the wait with her music that you can find in the Spotify playlist below. The selection includes music from different decades, countries and cultures, with a common denominator: the songs have been written or performed by women and/or people gender dissident people.

With her powerful voice, Marga Mbande was the first vocalist to step onto the stage, and she performed two highly acclaimed songs. Mbande also took advantage of her appareance to vindicate the diversity and the mainstreaming of disciplines produced by feminist artists. Afterwards, it was the turn of the visual artist Yolanda Domínguez, who intervened through a video because of a last-minute setback. Dominguez reported and criticized the online violence against women in the digital sphere, and reviewed some of the abuses she suffers on a daily basis.

Throughout the evening, there was also space for visual arts and painting. While the artists went through on the stage, the illustrators Andrea Btoy and Bianca Batlle Nguema were painting live with different techniques. The result were two portraits that garnished the left side of the stage during the show and at the end.

Andrea Btoy and Bianca Batlle Nguema painted live these two portraits
What does it mean to be subversive?

However, if there was a performance that broke preconceptions down, it was that of Agnés Mateus and Lali Álvarez. Through a set of questions made to themselves and also to the audience –”Who distributes feminist licenses?”, “Feminist creation must be an anticapitalist creation?”, “Does non-subversive feminism exist?”– they both reflected on what does it mean to be subversive as well as the need of being it. Afterwards it was time for the special and ‘mysterious’ performance of Núria Guiu and Sonia Gómez, who surprised everyone.

In the last part of the evening, María Cañas came on stage providing the touch of humor and making the audience laugh with her videos. She left the floor to actress Silvia Albert Sopale, who performed along with part of the cast a piece of her play is No country for Black Women. The phrase “The Virgin cannot be black” resounded with force in a moving staging that made everyone reflect on what does it mean being woman and of African descent in our country.

Actress Silvia Albert Sopale staged a moving performance to think about what does it mean to be an Afro-descendent woman

The graphic illustrator and cartoonist, Flavita Banana, was the last artist to appear on stage and surprisingly she did not draw but chose to read a text about the process of depression and personal improvement she went through a few years ago. The text, sincere and moving, has been published, along with other texts, in the book Tsunami. Miradas feministas (Sexto Piso, 2019).

Maria Arnal closes the show

The singer María Arnal starred the end of the show with a performance in which she wanted to innovate by using several interviews’ cuts of feminist voices who had moved, surprised and challenged her. Arnal thanked these voices “for daring to speak.” From this point, as she explained, she processed the stuff and created a composition that served as a rhythmic base for her performance. The singer and songwriter used the voices of Donna Haraway, Paul B. Preciado, Bjork, Marina Garcés, Christina Rosenvinge, Helen Hester, Gata Cattana, Ursula K. Le Guin and Silvia Federici, among others.

Arnal explained that “the idea was to work with these voices in the way I work with mine; that is to say, at the same time as a channel and as a message, form and content, an instrument, as some sort of internal scheming, for a hasty, disrupted, endless dialogue between all these voices”. The artist finished her performance by saying: “We see the songs once they are done, but this experience aimed to invite the audience to reach a more invisible space: the internal kitchen where a process is shared. Later on I sang over this words a few couplets I wrote from my own experiences that feminism helped me to see from a different perspective”.


Maria Arnal

Maria Arnal is a singer-songwriter and currently one of the most admired voices on the Catalan music scene. She studied singing at the Badalona School of Modern Music and trained with Marc Sempere and Jasmin Matorell. Alongside guitarrist Marcel Bagés, Arnal has released three albums: Remescles, acoples i melismes (2015), Verbena (2016) i 45 cerebros and 1 corazón (2017). She received several awards for her last album, including Best National Record, Best Pop Record and Best New Artist. Her music takes inspiration from the poems and oral traditions of the Iberian Peninsula.


Flavita Banana

Flavia Álvarez, also known as Flavita Banana, is an illustrator, cartoonist and sketch artist. She studied Art and Design at the Massana School of Art and Design in Barcelona and at 26 years old began sketching humorous cartoons. Her work, which was awarded the Gat Perich Prize for Graphic Humour, narrates the absurd and comical aspects of human relationships and the way we interact with social networks. Her published work includes The things of Love (Las Cosas Del Querer, Lumen 2017), a compilation of her best cartoons, and Cosmic Archives (Archivos Cósmicos, 2019). She has also illustrated books such as Curvy (Lumen, 2016).


Mar C. Llop

Mar C. Llop is a freelance photographer and activist of the trans* people’s association Generem!. She works in advertising and publishing, specialising in architecture, interior design, fashion and portraits. Since 2013, she has been working on the gender diversity project Construccions identitàries Work in progress. She is also involved with the Construccions identitàries Famílies project. Her photographs portray people during the gender transition process.


Yolanda Domínguez

She is an artist specialising in communication and gender. She works by creating actions to create relationships between people and generate communities following an experience with conflict. Her projects deal with social themes related to gender and consumption. Her work includes Poses, Register (Registro), Accessories and accessible (Accesorias y accessibles), Children vs. Fashion (Niños vs. Moda) and numerous exhibitions at museums all over the world, such as the Elga Wimmer Gallery in New York, Open Systems in Vienna and the Rojo Artspace in Milan. She was awarded a Spanish Ministry of Culture grant for the Promotion of Spanish Art and, in 2014, received a special mention at the Freedom of Expression awards alongside The Guardian newspaper. At present, she combines her artistic life with journalism and educational undertakings, working with several universities and media outlets like the Huffington Post Spain, where she writes a weekly column on the representation of women in the mass media.


Julia González

Sonido Tupinamba is the alter ego of Julia González in her role as musical curator and radio presenter for Radio Primavera Sound and Dublab. A researcher into African rhythms in America, she has performed at many major venues and cultural centres across Barcelona, as well as at several cult music venues like Glastonbury, Hotel Pikes and the Pohoda Festival. She works in cultural and academic management and also organises musical events. 


Agnés Mateus

She is a performer and multidisciplinary artist. A journalist by profession, she also studied theatre until starting as an actress under the guidance of Txiqui Berraondo and Manuel Lillo in Barcelona. Her career took shape in 1996 when she became one of the core creator-founders of the Col·lectiu General Elèctrica, with which she worked until it was disbanded eight years later. She usually works with Juan Navarro, Roger Bernat, Rodrigo García, and Simona Levi. Alongside Quim Tarrida, she took part in the 2018-2019 programme of artist residencies, EN RESiDÈNCIA, at the Institut Quatre Cantons, in the neighbourhood of Poblenou, Barcelona.


Marga Mbande

She is a singer of Equatoguinean descent born in Barcelona. She began her artistic career in 2003 with the group Dlux, of which she was a member until 2012. Since 2014, she has been a regular performer for the Magic Nights show at the Casa Batlló. In 2017 she presented Mbande Sound, her first solo studio recording which, with sounds of the diaspora, Afro-Pop, Afro-Soul, and Future-dancehall, is also her most personal work to date.


Andrea Btoy

Andrea Michaelsson, alias Btoy, is an urban artist from Barcelona who trained at the city’s Institute of Photographic Studies of Catalonia. In 2002, after experimenting with free and improvised artistic techniques (aerosol, plastic paint, etc.) and with the help of the walls in the streets, she began her career as an artist. Since then, she has painted murals in the streets of Barcelona and exhibited her work in numerous cities including Paris, London and Jakarta, as well as at festivals like The Cans Festival, where she collaborated with Banksy, the Bundeskunsthalle Museum in Bonn and the Tour 13 in Paris. 


Lali Álvarez

She is a playwright, stage director and writer. She studied Philosophy at the University of Barcelona, Audiovisual Production at La Mercè and Direction and Playwriting at the Barcelona Theatre Institute (Institut del Teatre). At present, she is the resident artist at the Nau Ivanow with the HUI BASA theatre group, of which she is artistic director. The group works on projects focused on three areas: scenic documentary, theatre in unconventional spaces and relationship with the audience. With HUI BASA she premiered THA TZPAR, which she co-authored with Pau Matas, at the Tàrrega Festival (FiraTàrrega) in 2018, and also DISSENY HUG, a work conceptualised with Gary Shochat that takes the form of an intervention in the public space of the Design Museum. She wrote and directed BARCELONA (against the wall) (BARCELONA (contra la paret)), performed by the company LAPùBLICA (Grec, FiraTàrrega, and Temporada Alta 2016), as well as Ragazzo (Nau Ivanow, 2015), which received the Critics’ Prize for Best Young People’s Show, Best New Actor, and the 2015 Serra d’Or Prize for the Best Show.

Bianca_Batlle_Nguema_credit_Lorenzo Duaso

Bianca Batlle Nguema

She is an artist with African roots, daughter of the first generation of immigrants born in the Spanish colonies who came to study and work in Barcelona. After the death of her mother, who never spoke of her African roots, Bianca Batlle Nguema set out on a journey to discover and experience her origins. Ever since then, she has been using her artistic work to explore the consequences of being a person of mixed parentage in a country where she is also part of an ethnic minority. Batlle Nguema tries to capture the complex and significant path of discovering her identity in every one of her paintings.


Sònia Gómez

She is a dancer, performer and choreographer who trained in Contemporary Dance and Choreography at the Barcelona Theatre Institute and the P.A.R.T.S School for Contemporary Dance in Brussels. She has been working since 2004 on projects centred on identity building, but also on discovering certain social impostures through art, and artistic imposture through the body and performance. She has received several awards for her work including the 2007 Prize FAD Sebastià Gasch, the 2010 Innovative Touring Show Prize, the 2017 Delfí Colomer Prize, and the 2018 Butaca Award for the Best Dance Show.


Núria Guiu

She is a ballerina and choreographer; she is a graduate of the Barcelona Theatre Institute. She has worked with Spanish companies like IT Dansa and La Veronal, as well as with international companies, including the Cullberg Ballet and Gisèle Vienne, among others. She also teaches Iyengar yoga and is studying for a degree in Anthropology and Human Evolution at the Open University of Catalonia (UOC). In 2012, she created the work The Mute (La Muda), which premièred at the Oslo Opera House, performed by the Carte Blanche Dance Company. Her most recent work, Likes, obtained a special mention for the Best Dance Performance at the 2018 City of Barcelona Awards, and also a prize for the Best Solo Dance Performance at the 2018 Barcelona Critics’ Awards. In 2018, and together with the dancer and social educator Pau Milla, she founded the Col·lectiu Perifèria, a creative educational project working with body and movement for conflict mediation and social transformation. She is presently working as an artistic assistant to French director Gisèle Vienne, as well as performing in some of her creations.


Maria Isern

Maria Isern is a poet, writer and researcher into contemporary literature and forms of narrative. She graduated in Literary Studies at the University of Barcelona and has a Master’s Degree in the Representation of Cultural Identities from the Sapienza University of Rome. She authored Sostre de Carn (laBreu edicions, 2017), which is the fruit of her exploration, while straddling the academic and non-academic worlds, into the fantasy of an infinite expansion of the body and the pleasures of frustrating the experiment. She won the 2017 Francesc Garriga Award. She is currently writing a thesis on the relationship between the eye and the peep-hole in contemporary narratives.


Silvia Albert Sopale

Actress and creator. A graduate of the Graduate School of Dramatic Arts (ESAD) in Múrcia, she wrote and performed It's No Country for Black Women (No es país para negras), a piece about the implications of being a woman of African descent in Spain. Her previous work, the collective montage Hotspot - Migraré, migrarás, migrarán, was co-produced with the Grand Julio Mario Santo Domingo Theatre in Columbia. She is also the founder of We Are Not Woopi Goldberg (No Somos Woopi Goldberg), a theatre company of African descent. She is a member of the Association of Professional Actors and Directors of Catalonia (AADPC) and co-founder of Black Barcelona and Black Ink (Tinta Negra), a collective of actors and actresses in the diaspora.

María Cañas

María Cañas

She is a Spanish multimedia artist. She has a degree in Fine Arts, a PhD in Aesthetics and History of Philosophy from the University of Seville, and a master’s degree in Digital Post-production. She is the director of Animalario TV Producciones, a creative space devoted to the culture of recycling, appropriationism and artistic experimentation. Her work has been exhibited at festivals, fairs, art centres, museums, and national and international galleries. She has received numerous awards, grants, and residences, among them the El Público Prize for Plastic Arts RTVA (2016) and the Universo video residency grant at the Centre d’Art i Creació Industrial LABoral (2015).


Miriam Reyes

Miriam Reyes is a poet and video creator who was born in Ourense and emigrated to Caracas with her parents when she was eight years old. She studied literature at the Central University of Venezuela and Hispanic Studies at the University of Barcelona. Her anthology, Fierce (Feroces), earned her recognition as a poet in 1998. Since then she has published several collections of poems: Black mirror (Espejo negro DVD, 2001), Sleeping Beauty (Bella durmiente, Hiperión, 2004), Evictions, (Desalojos, Hiperión, 2008), Do What I Tell You (Haz lo que te digo, Bartleby, 2015), Calmly Thought (Pensando en frío, Malasangre, 2016), Sardine (Sardiña, Chan da Pólvora, 2018) and Inner, Self, Body (Yo, interior, cuerpo, Argentina, 2013). Her work features in both national and international anthologies and has been translated into half a dozen languages. Since 2001 she has been experimenting with audiovisual writing and multimedia recital. She has performed her video-recitals at spoken word and performing arts festivals. She has also translated poems written in Galician, Catalan and Portuguese to Spanish. She co-directs the poetry publishing house Marisma and maintains the website of collective writing Prensándonos en frío.


Maria Sevilla

Badalona, 1990. She thrived on bias and living on the periphery of the outskirts. She spent her teenage years listening to punk, grunge and trash while discovering the comforting warmth of literature. She studied Catalan Studies at the University of Barcelona. When finished, she began her PhD thesis (ongoing) on The Passion According to Rennée Vivien (La passió segons Renée Vivien) by Maria-Mercè Marçal. In 2015, she published her first collection of poems, Teeth of Pulp (Dents de polpa, AdiA) followed by Kalashnikov (Kalàixnikov, Món de Llibres)in 2017.Since January 2019 she has been one of the three programmers of l’Horiginal.

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