Exhibit advocates for body rights on ‘battleground’

Michele Pred
“Your body is a battleground” will run at Weinberg/Newton Gallery, 300 W. Superior St., until June 9. All works displayed in the exhibit are available for auction throughout the run of the show. 

By Arts & Culture Reporter

Feminism, body politics and the pro-choice movement converge in “Your body is a battleground,” a new art exhibit featuring the work of more than 30 artists.

The exhibit opened April 15 at Weinberg/Newton Gallery, 300 W. Superior St., and runs until June 9.

Meg Noe, director of exhibitions and programming at the gallery, said she tried to get as many feminist-identifying artists to participate in the exhibit as could fit in the space. She said the gallery reached out to artists who could represent the status of reproductive rights and feminist issues in Chicago.

All of the works in “Your body is a battleground” are up for auction on Paddle8.com throughout the exhibit’s run. The auction is organized by Personal PAC, Weinberg/Newton Gallery’s partner for the exhibition. Personal PAC is a political action committee focused on electing pro-choice state-level candidates.

“[Weinberg/Newton Gallery] has showcased art that shines a lens on reproductive rights, reproductive freedom and issues that go hand in hand with the work we do,” said Rickie Ryan, director of fundraising, marketing and communications for Personal PAC.

Noe said proceeds from the exhibition’s auction will be split equally between the artists and Personal PAC.

“I hope the money helps [the artists] continue making work that reinforces an importance for feminist ideology within the art world,” Noe said.

One of the art works in “Your body is a battleground,” created by artist Dan Paz, is titled “Salem’s Mute Testimony.” It is a work of photography that has been cut into five 60-inch-long strips and installed onto the gallery floor, Paz said.

While creating “Salem’s Mute Testimony,” Paz said she was thinking about the “state of the criminalized body” and the history of using photography for identification purposes.

“It’s important that we’re still committing to working toward a better, safer world for people to have freedom and control over their bodies,” Paz said. “We’ve seen, in a lot of ways, local governments using ways around legislature to sort of yoke freedom or put certain walls up.”

Paz said it is “incredible” to still be having the conversation about ownership and freedom of a person’s body in 2016.

Noe said change tends to be slow moving, and she is not sure whether the exhibition will help the feminist and pro-choice movements beyond letting the community know the concepts are still important to fight for.

“The most I could possibly hope for is that this exhibition reminds folks that defending this right is extremely important for all citizens,” Noe said. “It’s not a partisan issue; it’s not a women’s issue; it’s a human rights issue. Roe v. Wade continues to be challenged since it was [enacted], and it is a legal right we need to continue to defend.”

“Your body is a battleground” is free to the public, but specific events related to the exhibit may require an extra fee. The exhibit runs until June 9. More information is available at WeinbergNewtonGallery.com.