LACY, silver action, talking and doing.

It was expected that Lacy’s event at the Tate would trend on Twitter. It did not. But today two days after the event at last yes Growing Old Disgracefully were mentioned apparently interviewed by Lacy. I was not aware of their presence and neither were the people at my table or at the workshop. Anti-oil activism was the only activism mentioned on Twitter until today. It occurs to me that the problem of the whole project was  that it was focused on talking and being constrained to remain at our table limited in space and time.

Activism is doing. Old women are activists in  all spheres of political action, resistance, and fights for justice and in Art and Education. There are old women active and influential in the Peace movement, in the  Occupy movement, in the Green and Climate Change movements, in the education of young women and in the fight for the National Health Service, in Pensioners Forums  and other organisations that are fighting for a fair and just word.  And of course old women are volunteers in a host of charitable organisations. They are activist in the family too. All these women are invisible in real life because they are not considered as old but exceptional in their own activist group or else dismissed because they are in the caring field.  It is the ‘my best friend is Black, Jewish, Moslem, Old’ effect.

But also we have internalised this ageism. If we are energetic and healthy we say ” we are not old” even if we have to dye our hair and have plastic surgery and Botox injections.  If we are hard of hearing we do not raise our voice to ask for people to project their own.  We do not demand from the organisers of every demonstration to have special arrangements for old people who cannot walk or stand for hours. In feminist conferences there are old women on the panels but they do not mention that their expertise is due to age. There are  no workshops about what is like to be over 60. What is the journey from the age 60 to 90+ like? What is our contribution as older women to society, and what are our fears. Our past may be recognised but our present is not acknowledged.

I dream of an event in the tanks where old women would come and mill around with the audience showing placards of their field of action past and present local or universal. Where the walls would be plastered with photos of old women in protest. Where women in wheelchairs and their carers and grandmothers and grandchildren would mix with everybody else….

I dream… I dream …

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LACY TATE SILVER ACTION DAY

I shall be a spoil sport.  The women I talked to at the Tate, a lot of the tweets, declare that it was a wonderful event. Well I think it was a disappointing mess of an event. Although wonderfully organised it did not to my mind achieve anything either at the workshop (see previous post on this blog but specially the comments)  or on the day.

I have been an old woman activist against ageism  for the last 18 years. What I have experienced is that ageism permeates our language, culture  and our consciousness.

Let us start with the title of Lacy’s project. If you Google ‘silver action’ you get a Turkish football site. Why did Lacy change her original title from ‘grey hair action’?  Also the word ageism  did not feature in this event.

As I detailed in my previous post on this blog the workshop I attended was not conducive to talk about our present. In real life old women are invisible. More than their physical presence, it is what they do with their time, working or after retiring and/or raising a family that is absent from public life. It is their experience of advancing age with all its liberation and difficulties that are not talked about.  It was symbolic that the timeline  on the wall extended from 1945 to 2000. There was not enough room for the 27 women present to post  their activities after 2000. The age range being 60+ it would have been extremely interesting.

On the day of the event the intimate encounter of 4 women was of course interesting as women encounters always are.  We could have talked for much longer but the time available was very limiting. Also we were unaware of the space around us and the different activities that were happening. Did I feel manipulated? Not really but I felt that this part of the event was redundant for me. I belong to the Older Feminist Network, Women in Black, Old Women in Film Group, I only recently lapsed in my membership of Growing Old Disgracefully. I wanted to know what issues were discussed in the other workshops. I imagine that Lacy’s final work will provide me with this experience.

On the tweets the general impression is not one  of  rebellion, resistance. A few mentions of the cuts, of campaigns that individuals are part of but not a feeling of general militancy against violence, and social  injustice.  

When they are frail, old women are completely ignored. The frail old woman is ‘other’. There was no space and time for talk on militancy on this subject.  Let us talk about Greenham and feminist consciousness, let us talk about our youth and feminist ideas, let us talk about the young women. But the fear of disability and death that pervades our public life prevents us from acknowledging the old frail woman and there is no solidarity expressed publicly. 

 I will end on a positive note. As usual a woman only space has been enormously enjoyable.  

THE CRYSTAL QUILT AT THE TATE MODERN

I had given up on this blog. I have asked people to contribute to the site but women are not forthcoming and the instances of ageism I have experienced lately did not seem to warrant a post. But I am angry again. The Tate Modern in London is exhibiting  Susan Lacey’s  installation  “The Crystal Quilt” in the newly opened tanks. http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern-anks/display/suzanne-lacy-crystal-quilt.

As mentioned on the Tate site 430 women over the age of 60 collaborated on this work of art that consists now of a video, documentary, quilt, photographs and sound piece. I was looking forward to see this exhibition and loved the video, documentary and photographs but the kernel of the installation should have been the sound piece. When I went into the room where the comments of the women were being played I was distressed not to be able to hear the voices of the women clearly. I am hard of hearing and have a good hearing aid with a loop setting. But unfortunately I could not hear the voices clearly.

As usual I blamed myself, the hearing aid and dismissed the event. However a friend who could hear the comments in the room phoned me to say that I would have been interested by this part of the exhibition. Yes, my reaction was to get angry and I immediately  phoned the Tate about the poor quality of the sound. After being referred to a couple of customer relations people who did not know anything about the situation, I was phoned later by an understanding woman who informed me that there is no loop in that part of the installation, and no headphones. She would see what she can do and come back to me… I will not hold my breath .

How can they talk of “an ambitious work that fuses social responsibility with the power of aesthetics” ?. Is this the extent of the Tate Modern social responsibility? Should not the voices of the women be heard by ALL?