|December 8, 2017
They came with signs, sculptures, beaded masks, customized riot shields, and pink pussyhats to take their resistance — and their art — to the streets during Art Basel. The Parade Against Patriarchy, organized by feminist artist Michelle Pred in collaboration with 13 artists from across the nation, including Krista Suh, the founder of the Pussyhat Project, marched through Miami Beach streets around the Bass Museum of Art to promote their intersectional approach to feminism and rebellion against patriarchy.
Pred debuted her pieces — riot shields with the messages "Pussy Grabs Back" and "My Body My Business" — at the Inauguration Day protests against Donald Trump in January. She marched with them at the following day's Women's March on Washington and brought them out again for Wednesday's Parade Against Patriarchy in Miami. Showing her pieces outside gallery spaces is crucial to underscoring her art's message of intersectionality, she says. "It's really important for me to show not only in galleries but also on the streets, where it's exposed to a different audience. There's only a certain number of people that actually... have the privilege to go to art museums and all these fairs going on."
Miami-based artist Alessandra Mondolfi, founder of the Artist March that took place in June, echoes Pred's sentiments of inclusivity. "Miami needs something like this on the streets, outside of the white walls of the fairs, and we really want this to represent all women," she says.
Staging a feminist protest during Miami's biggest cultural week might seem like preaching to the choir. But artist Melanie Oliva, Mondolfi's Artist March co-organizer and founder of the progressive art collective the Artful Activist, says there are always new people to target with their message. Just before the parade's procession began, Mondolfi handed a flyer reading "Parade Against Patriarchy" to a man walking past the participating artists. He asked her what "patriarchy" meant.
"I think if we got to explain to one man what patriarchy is, that's success right on its own," she says.
The Parade Against Patriarchy comes at the close of a year when women rose up to say "no more" to sexual harassment, among many other consequences that result from a patriarchal system. The viral #MeToo campaign cracked the code of silence faced by survivors, making public what women have privately shared among themselves for years — even as the sitting president of the United States continues to serve after being caught on audiotape bragging about sexually assaulting women, and as an accused child molester stands days away from possible election to the U.S. Senate.
Says Pred of the current seismic paradigm shift: "I think, already, a lot of us are feeling the increase in the understanding of what's happening with patriarchy. People are talking about what's happening with sexual harassment... the movement that is just expanding. [The parade] is a way of also getting people [who] might not agree with those ideas to be exposed to art that's dealing with it. My artwork is mainly about instigating conversations and thought, and provoking those ideas and creating public art."