Upon arriving at the Women in Conflict event, I was struck by the taciturn and introspective atmosphere. I had yet to attend an event by the Women for Women Society, but I anticipated a more visibly stimulating and impassioned foreground, followed by a further impassioned response by the spectators. Instead, I realised gradually that there is no need for great extroversion when confronting and embracing the many realities of women in conflict today.
Women for Women International is an organisation that sponsors marginalized women in countries afflicted by war and conflict, and guides them in leading more resourceful, healthy, and influential lives through training programs. The St Andrews branch raises awareness and fundraises for the organization through various events around the university. This time, as part of the On The Rocks Festival, a photography and poetry exhibition was curated in the corridor outside the Arts Lecture Theatre. Complementary wine and food aside, I really enjoyed being a spectator to the many tender voices of the St Andrews community.
A short series taken by Luca Lamoni called ‘Woman In Transition’ were displayed in the exhibition. The series featured nostalgic black-and-white portraits of his ex-girlfriend, whom he felt was a ‘woman in transition, full of potential but somehow insecure about her goals.’ The young woman’s life was witnessed and documented beautifully through candid photographs of her doing everyday things. Luca’s photographs were taken in a most truthful and unperformed manner, manifested through the lens of a man engaged in a transient relationship with a woman, observing the intimacies of the internal conflicts she grappled with. Such a perspective is rarely seen and indispensable to what the event was attempting to showcase: a window into the intimate and private spheres of a woman in conflict.
A number of poems written by members of the St Andrews community were exhibited along with the photography. The poems explored a range of themes crucial to a woman’s experience, such as domesticity, youth, and maternity. There were also two poetry readings. One of the poems confronted the burdens on identity endured growing up, while the other associated an empowering sociopolitical experience with the women involved in Colombia’s FARC guerrilla army.
Overall, the event harnessed a great diversity of voices through an honest and raw exhibition of the arts, which was thankfully unburdened by the gregariousness common at many events held at this university. While, admittedly, my initial reaction to the exhibition was one of nonchalance, I later found myself greatly warmed to the meditative ambience hanging in that single corridor.
Image featured courtesy of On the Rocks