Screenings, Performances & Events

Desire Change Book Launch

  • September 1, 2017, 6:00pm – 10:00pm
  • MAWA, 611 Main Street

Free, everyone welcome!

Desire Change: Contemporary Feminist Art in Canada

To commemorate MAWA’s 30th anniversary in 2014, MAWA decided to undertake a ground-breaking project: to produce the first book about art and feminism in Canada. There have been excellent discipline-specific texts, particularly about Canadian feminist performance art, but no over-arching textbook about the vast range of feminist visual arts practices. MAWA took it upon itself to fill this shocking absence and make sure that the history of feminist art in this country is preserved and given the critical reflection that it is due … and now, after many years of fundraising and labour, the book is done!

In 2013, the Winnipeg Foundation supported MAWA to hire Managing Editor Nicole Burisch, who solicited editorial proposals from scholars, writers and artists across North America. MAWA received 33 dazzling proposals for what exactly a book about Canadian art and feminism could look like. We selected the thoughtful proposal by itinerant academic Heather Davis, who sought to explore the dynamic between our desires (what we want bodily and politically) and change, and proposed organizing the manuscript into three sections: sex, gender and feminism; colonial patriarchy and matriarchal decolonization; and a feminist critique of institutions and speculative alternatives.

The result is a stunning volume that MAWA has produced in partnership with McGill-Queen’s University Press: 328 pages that celebrate the art of feminists in our nation. The book features 14 essays focusing on regional histories, activist art, community engagement, Indigenous feminisms and the political role of the female body. There is also a historical timeline from 1963-2015. The manuscript was submitted to the academic peer review process to ensure the highest standards of accuracy and conceptual rigour.

MAWA is proud to have paid writers’ fees. This is not customary in the academic world, but we felt it was essential and reflects our commitment to: a) paying women for their labour and b) ensuring a wide range of voices, including those outside of the academy. By paying professional fees, the project has supported feminist artists, art educators, theorists and critics by providing a paid platform for enquiry and research. MAWA has also offered image fees to the artists represented. Again, women artists must be paid!

This project is so important to us because it furthers MAWA’s core goal: equality for women artists. Because this book will be of national importance and use, it will be a legacy that will live into the future.

Please help us celebrate Desire Change: Contemporary Feminist Art in Canada by attending the launch party on Friday, September 1 from 6-10pm at MAWA. Books will be available for the reduced price of $45 (list price is $49.95).

September 1 will also be the opening night of our members’ showcase, Feminist Futures. Let’s celebrate our history while actively imagining (and working toward) what we hope is to come.

–Co-EDs Shawna Dempsey and Dana Kletke