Culture  Rethinking the political individual

Back Off! seeks to unite activists through art

Forget “art for art’s sake.” This year’s Back Off! – an “annual feminist event” hosted by the Women’s Studies Association of Concordia and the Centre des femmes de l’UQAM – aims to explore and perpetuate the symbiotic relationship between art and social change in Montreal. “The link…is not a clear or linear one,” explains Claudyne Chevrier, one of the event’s organizers, “but we think that if people are touched…they might listen.” Through a day of discussion and workshops, Chevrier and her colleagues hope to “draw attention to political art being produced in Montreal and to understand how social movements use art to transmit their messages.” The focus is on “the political individual,” and the ways in which we can expand our notions of this individual by “rethinking” conventional representations of gender. The event is intended to be a meeting place for those involved in social movements to gain an artistic perspective, and for artists to explore how they might incorporate social issues into their work – Chevrier hopes that “different groups of people come together to discuss ideas with people they don’t usually get to see.” She adds that the conference was “born of a desire to bring together the franco and anglo feminist scenes in Montreal.”

Don’t be misled by the event’s somewhat uninviting title, which Chevrier admits “can sound a little aggressive:” all the activities are entirely free, in both English and French with translation available. Examples of workshops include “Zine Production,” “Feminist Radio,” and “Silkscreening for the Revolution.” On-site childcare and food will also be provided, free of charge. Chevrier explains the motivation for Back Off! “comes from the idea that we see problems; we’ve seen and talked about those problems for a long time, and we now want to act…with energy and enthusiasm.”