Womxn Who Rock: (Un)Conference Photo Essay

1. Selected photos

These six photos in particular describe how the Womxn Who Rock (Un)Conference was not limited to music, was participatory, and engaged the community. Each photo highlights a different insight gained in our experience, from the importance of recognition to the joy of community gathering.

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Photo by:
Anuudari Oldokhbayar
Date: March 10, 2018
Location: Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) Atrium
Category + Explanation: Building Communities, Reel Rebels — Because this community altar celebrates all womxn, and explains the intersection of gentrification and creative spaces, this photo is reflective of the organizational efforts of artistic activism specific to Seattle.


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Photo by: Anuudari Oldokhbayar
Date: March 10, 2018
Location: Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) Atrium
Category + Explanation: Making Scenes — This photo features an audience member performing on stage during the blues jam, showing how participation from fans is equally important in producing musical works.

 


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Photo by: Anuudari Oldokhbayar
Date: March 10, 2018
Location: Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) Atrium
Category + Explanation: Write to Rock — This book, Jackson Street After Hours, was described on stage as influential in understanding jazz in Seattle. Because this was shared by the woman singing on stage, it centers the conversation on cultural production by women of color and acknowledges those histories.

 


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Photo by: Anuudari Oldokhbayar
Date: March 10, 2018
Location: Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) Atrium
Category + Explanation: Making Scenes — Ana Cano, aka Black Mama, joined the other musicians on stage during the blues jam. Their collaboration exemplifies making a music scene.

 


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Photo by: Chloe Yeo
Date: March 10, 2018
Location: Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) Atrium
Category + Explanation: Making Scenes — The blues jam filled the atrium with lively music and dancing, especially in a space that tells parts of the Seattle story. This aerial view shows how the audience and band came together to activate this space and celebrate womxn in rock.

 


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Photo by: Sean McGrew
Date: March 10, 2018
Location: Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) Prologue Theater
Category + Explanation: Reel Rebels — Because Promised Land discussed recognition of the Duwamish tribe, distributing this story helps to illuminate local indigenous activism.


2. Conference overview + takeaways

The six photos we chose reflect our overall perception of the (un)conference and captures the most striking moments that we experienced. The interviews conducted helped to frame the social perception of the event. By hearing how the community felt, we were able to recognize the importance of creating spaces like this, and how creating this archive allows for its continued existence. The (un)conference was an effective tool for demonstrating how it is necessary for cities to celebrate previous histories and generate new ones. As a result, understanding how intersectionality helps to inform culture is vital in approaching creating the community spaces that allow for peoples and cultures to thrive. In working together to create this photo essay, we learned how a lot can be accomplished through collaboration and the value of having new perspectives and opinions other than our own in producing a creative work.


3. Photo categorization

See the above photos for categories and explanations.


4. Live blog — Chloe Yeo


5. Interviews 
Anuudari Oldokhbayar

 

Interviewee 1: Bailye

1. What does this conference mean to you?
I have been coming for a several years and I really love the energy that it brings. Also, I feel that it is an opportunity for for women to connect and I really appreciate that. Overall, it has just been a cool thing to be a part of.

2. Why do you think having a conference like this is important to us (women) today and for our future?
I think that having an opportunity to connect with a community across generations, especially hearing from elders. Plus, being a part of something that is designed to build up a solid community and connect with the Seattle women’s community is really important to me as a whole. As a white person, it is also a great opportunity to hear from voices of color, which is important to me. So, I really appreciate that!

3) What is the importance of having the conference here at MOHAI?
So that is is really interesting because it is the first year it is being held here (MOHAI), it has always been at Washington Hall, hence, I am still adjusting to the new venue. But, I have never been to the MOHAI before, and going and seeing some of the exhibits have been really cool and does make the conference feel connected to Seattle and Seattle history. It feels sort of curated and also it is a beautiful day.

4) How should we move forward from this together? (In your opinion)
Man, there are so many things to do! I really am glad that this conference has continued to happen and the continuation factor is really important. I would love to see more connection aside from the once a year conference about events that are going on that support the same kind of vision. For example, when people are playing music locally and just any other organizing that is going on. In one of the panels, they were talking about “where is the action” and just getting the words out about those actions would be awesome.


Interviewee 2:
Salma

1. What does this conference mean to you?
I think overall, it is just about bringing women together from different organizations and different communities to share the role we take on to empower other women and empower our communities. So, it is just a safe space to all of us.

2. Why do you think having a conference like this is important to us (women) today and for our future?
For the people that attend the conference – it is important they get motivated because I know sometimes when it comes to community organizing and similar things, we get really tired and discouraged sometimes. We sometimes feel hopeless and overwhelmed with the work that we do! But, when we come into this space, we get so inspired by the other work that other women are doing and it is a “wow moment”, which reminds me why I do the work that I do and a reminder of the passion that we have for the work that we do. So yeah, it is just about coming together and sharing the different kinds of work we do to empower and inspire each other.

3. What is the importance of having the conference here at MOHAI?
Personally, the museum is a really hard space to get everybody in one area. Plus, keeping things on schedule, being organized, and being all together is a little hard in the space because we are all in different places at all times. So, maybe I wish that it would have been held at a smaller venue. But, it is really cool that we can do a conference here and MOHAI means a lot to Seattle. I think this is a big step towards the idea that women can take up a space like this and be part of the history and the conversation.

4. How should we move forward from this together? (In your opinion)
The incubator room is a space where we can have conversations about what we are all fighting for and the struggles we are all going through, but it is amazing that we are all doing it differently. So, when we hear the specific struggles that women have in the work that they specifically do for whatever cause it may be, we can start strategizing and start working together in a more efficient way.  This is because we are connecting now and talking to each other about the things we are individually doing, but truly us building networks and connections through events like this conference, we know there is support everywhere even though we all do different work.

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WOW to Black Mama <3

Seeing Ana Cano today truly made my day this afternoon! Her strong and confident self was inspiring and it was amazing to see such a resilient woman with the most positive aura and energy on stage doing her own thing. She defies all the odds of being a female MC coming from the misogynistic Ecuadorian culture. Also, as a mixed-race woman who is Latina, black, and indigenous, her deep-rooted knowledge, emotional intelligence, cultural sensitivity, and open-mindedness was clear and transparent from how she presented herself.

She is not afraid to speak her mind through her music, where success of such provocative and honest lyrical songs is unclear. However, it was clear that she believed in the importance of activism in music and what other great way to stand up for yourself, for your loved ones, and for those oppressed. Musicians like Ana are important to us and our future, where she redefines what music can be and what it should be – crushing stereotypes about cultures, telling true stories, and changing people’s perception about challenging topics for the better future for all. I truly wish her the best of all and will make sure to spread her music to everyone I know.

Black Mama

Todays performance in class was great. My mom is from close by in Colombia and it was eye opening to hear the stories she had to tell for each song she really tells a story and stands for feminism. It was amazing to see the type of Spanish music my mom listens to live. Black Mama has a perfect voice and great sound. What she talked about after each song was related to what we learned in class and the movement of women in the punk rock scene which was cool to see the correlation.

Even tho i could not understand her lyrics while she sang you could see the emotion she sang with. You know those lyrics meant a lot and were 100% real. It is beautiful to see someone who has seen so much oppression to women and family members to turn it into music that has a real message behind it. I really hope she gains popularity and becomes bigger than she is now she deserves to be heard with the image she conveys with her lyrics.

On Ana Cano

Much of Ana Cano’s discussion after her performance in the Ethnic Cultural Theater aligned with what we have discussed throughout the course, in that she embodies feminist methodologies and explores alternative futures in music. Because her music illuminates issues that provoke positive and negative responses, her music and identity are forms of protest, much like other music in the pop protest moment. This protest serves to challenge social conventions and expose all forms of oppression. By acknowledging her heritage and addressing colonial erasures, her work then helps to change the modern perception of Ecuadorian/Latin American histories. Bringing these forgotten histories to the forefront allows for more populations to work collaboratively and move forward in a way that is respectful, innovative, and meaningful. As a result, her discussion of identity was helpful in gaining clarity about forming new relationships with music and feminism. In redefining genres and stereotypes, Ana Cano shows that influence can come in many forms, and that sharing these stories is crucial in dismantling the oppressive behaviors that have been normalized in music and society.

Response to Black Mama

Ana Cano (Black Mama) is an amazingly talented musician, performer, and extremely insightful feminist, a strong and sincere advocate for black women and indigenous peoples.  In this course, we focused on the untold origins, histories, and stories of music in the United States. We explored the voices and influences of black and latinx musicians that have been unacknowledged and hidden away for too long. Ana Cano said the music she writes is for herself, as an Afro-Ecuadorian woman, for her people, and for women everywhere. She is committed to sharing the stories that her own country has kept silent, and stories that most US citizens, such as myself, were never aware of.

It can often be difficult to identify sincerity in musical protests, especially popular music. But it is obvious to me, from her performance and her talk today, that Ana Cano exemplifies what it means to be a feminist musician and person.

Safe space for all

The article about the documentary Gits on Bitchmedia mentions “Telling me not to walk home in the certain neighborhood is ridiculous because I live in that neighborhood.” I feel for this quote because as a young woman living in Seattle, especially the U-District – 9PM passes and I start having heavy anxiety and fear regarding how I am going to get home. In fact, my house in the U-District was broken in last night, and it is a serious issue not just Seattle, but many cities place on women and men every day. Especially, in the case of Mia Zapata – what happened is the most tragic of all and must never happen to anyone ever.

 

The article also states how many of the founders of Home Alive, a nonprofit organization that promotes alternative methods for women to protect themselves within the community, faced misconceptions about self-defense as simply teaching women to beat someone up? This is infuriating because why are the efforts of women just trying to protect themselves and cope on their own with the terrible innate situation of our very given existence? The victim-blaming society is draining and makes me wonder how so many people have these thoughts, understanding, and perspective about assault regarding those oppressed (not white male)?

 

From seeing the documentary in class, I thank the girls who made the movie because without it, this important, but awful history of a woman from Seattle probably would have been forgotten by all and never learned by the young. Mia Zapata’s biography mentions that she had a lot going on for her in terms of her career such as a record deal and tour dates prior to her death. Hence, it saddens me to think that maybe she would have been a mega star just like many predicted her to be if that night never happened. The question of how we can make Seattle, where we live a safe place and somewhere we securely can walk around after 9PM is always on my mind. There is not an easy answer because the society we live in have deep rooted issues that can’t be solved by a single action and us as a human race must act together to help create a safe space for everyone for the better future.

Music pick of the week:

Mount Kimbie – You Took Your Time Feat. King Krule (Official Video)

River Tiber – West ft. Daniel Caesar

 

¡Viva Zapata!

I’ve lived around the greater Seattle area for all my life, yet I had never heard the tragic story of Mia Zapata’s life and death until a couple days ago. As I watched the film, Rock, Rage & Self Defense: An Oral History of Seattle’s Home Alive, I just couldn’t believe I had never learned about an event that so profoundly affected the Seattle music scene and community. Mia had an enormous and obvious impact on her colleagues, friends, and on women within the Seattle music scene in general, and her death left a huge, terrifying scar on the community. Music group 7 Year Bitch even dedicated their album name, “¡Viva Zapata!”, to Mia the year after her death.

But these women didn’t passively let Mia’s rape and murder paralyze them. They decided to do something about it and help protect themselves and each other. In the BitchMedia article “Finally, Filmmakers Tell the Forgotten History of Seattle DIY Self-defense Group Home Alive”, Rozz Therrien and Leah Michaels discuss their research on the organization of Home Alive, a non-profit group dedicated to helping women gain access to educational self-defense resources, in Seattle. I think what struck me most was the nearly complete lack of online documentation at the time they started this project. Rozz Therrien describes how they changed this by “go[ing] through all these boxes of history and scan[ing] them in to archive them so when someone does the search they can actually fine the literature of the newsletters and zines that were written by community members about Home Alive.” I was also amazed by the amount of support Home Alive received from a wide variety of Seattle and non-Seattle based musicians, as listed in the These Streets article on Mia Zapata, such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Heart, and the Presidents of the United States of America.

I think people are often too quick to define Seattle music to “grunge”, aka Nirvana, in the past and as the origin of Macklemore in more recent times. But feminist punk was a lesser known backbone of the Seattle music scene, and continues to have strong roots in the city. For my DJ selections, in dedication to Mia Zapata, I’ve included a couple of fairly current, local feminist artists.