New exhibition a powerful look at the woman reader and writer
By Jillian McMullen, Staff Writer
It’s a long trek from New West, but the UBC Belkin Art Gallery’s new exhibition is definitely worth the long bus ride for those with a keen interest in feminism and literature. Having opened on January 11, Beginning with the Seventies: GLUT explores how women have participated in arts and literature as subjects, objects, and creators.
The centrepiece is a recreation of the Vancouver Women’s Bookstore, which opened in 1973 in response to a growing desire for feminist books and periodicals at the time. “Glut” means an excessive supply or abundance of something—an excess. GLUT, then, embodies the wealth of feminist material available in the archive. Three bookcases adorn the walls of the gallery, filled with woman-written titles: From I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou; to Gender Trouble, by Judith Butler; and A Room of One’s Own, by Virginia Woolf. These titles, among others, were chosen because they were listed in a catalogue for the bookstore from its inaugural years.
One of the pieces I found most striking in the collection was a work dealing with Friedrich Nietzsche’s many problematic writings on womanhood and femininity in general. The piece, which is set up on a tabletop, features seven paperbacks by the writer, titles that have become foundational to literary criticism—including Genealogy of Morals, The Will to Power, and Beyond Good and Evil. Whips made out of printed lines from these texts are placed above them, reminding the observer of the verbal lashings some of his words continue to cause.
As an English Lit major, I’ve read excerpts from these works countless times over the course of my studies. Often, when working with historically-relevant literary documents, we have to try to separate the theory from the prejudice. This exhibition, however, says “No, no you can’t do that,” and the way it exposed this harmfulness in academia felt very powerful for me.
The exhibition has a lot more to offer than the small snapshot I’ve given you, so you should definitely check it out. The people working behind the front desk are super welcoming and will check your bag (free of charge) so you aren’t bogged down while walking through the gallery. I was also able to snag a free poster during my visit—it wasn’t a cheesy promotional poster for the gallery either, but an actual print of one of the artists involved in the show, which I think is pretty cool.
The exhibition will run from now until April 8, and admission is free—it’s on a school campus, after all.