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Take Back the Night – Montreal, 1998

In August 1998 I was invited to contribute as an artist to the annual Take Back the Night march in Montreal. Much of my research in the studio and elsewhere was, at that time, focused on the winged human figure. As a feminist, I was struck by how often winged female figures, whether these are “angels”, “fairies” or some other trope, were sexualized in art. The Take Back the Night march was the ideal place to reclaim the iconography of the winged woman, through the presence of hundreds if not thousands of women walking and reclaiming their right to the streets.

With the help of drop-in volunteers (listed below) I made 200 pairs of “wings” that could be pinned easily to clothing by means of safety pins (the more safety, the better, it seemed to me). The wings were an iridescent fabric (gold/mauve), each painted with glow-in-the dark paint. Caroline Alexander, also an artist participating in the march, took the night-time photos of the march, below. Women seemed to love putting on and wearing the wings. For me it was a privilege to participate in this important event as a feminist artist. I also loved working with so many collaborators and volunteers, sewing steadily in my studio, then on rue Marie-Anne, for days, and it was a thrill to see hundreds of women walk off into the night with glowing little wings on their shoulders.

wings 2  Wings under construction

take back the night Sept 98  The march. (Photo by Caroline Alexander)

take back the night Sept 98 detail You can just see the central woman’s wing!

wings 3 The collection growing

Merci, tout le monde:

Janice Anderson, Carleton Evans, Penelope Hammond, Caroline Alexander, Michelle Veight