January 27, 2021

Indecent Intentions: Street Harassment and Contemporary Art

In 1986, Adrian Piper began handing out small cards in bars when, after repeated rebuffs, individuals continued to make unwelcome advances. “Dear Friend,” they read. “I am not here to pick anyone up, or to be picked up. I am here alone because I want to be here, ALONE.”

Existing as both a work of art and as a practical defense, Piper’s cards foreshadow the types of actions many artists and activists have used since to combat such unwanted attention. While the term street harassment was barely in the general lexicon when Piper created My Calling (Card) #2 (for Bars and Discos), today it is common parlance. With the founding of organizations like Stop Street Harassment and Hollaback! in the past decade and an explosion of media attention around the term in the last year in particular, awareness of the peril of simply walking-while-female is arguably at an all time high. (See: Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s Stop Telling Women to Smile wheat pastes; Hollaback!’s viral video “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman”—more on that later; or Jessica Williams’s catcalling segment on the Daily Show.)
Source: Huff Post

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