HearSay, HereSay, Her Say!

A Photovoice Odyssey of Girlhood Identity. 

This photo exhibit marks the first International Day of the Girl  Child, October 1, 2012. It is also a feature presentation of an international research symposium hosted by the Institute for Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies,  Girlhood Studies and the Politics of Place: New Paradigms of Research; . The result of a collaboration between researchers in the Faculty of Education, McGill University and the Girls Action Foundation, this exhibit draws upon the notion of ‘girl-method’ and participatory work with, for and about girls. Pertinent to this work, the Girls Action Foundation offers workshops to girls at a local elementary school in Montreal as part of its Girls Media Club.

The Girls Media Club is in its 2nd and offers an opportunity for girls to learn about multimedia and ways of expressing ideas through various media. It involves 11 and 12 year-old girls. The “Photovoice” workshop module aims to engage girls in visually representing and engaging in discussions about the places they navigate (school, home, peer-spaces), their feelings in those spaces, and what expectations exist in those spaces about their identities. 

The members of this year’s Girls’ Media Club explored their school environment and using a ‘no faces’ approach to visual ethics, took photos of the spaces they navigate everyday. The girls lit up both behind and in front of the camera. Equally illuminating are the stories behind the photos. Their photos and captions tell stories about friendship, loss, and aspiration and shed light upon their realities and experiences. The photos depict images from both inside and outside of the school and elicited narratives around broader themes relating to safety, gender, and belonging. The photos on display represent a small  fraction of the 250 photos that were taken. The girls themselves selected the images they wanted to share at the symposium. As a whole the images provide viewers with an opportunity to hear what girls have to say.

The photos presented in this exhibit are displayed on 5 feet tall triangular prisms constructed from coroplast and foam board. Lighting fixtures have been placed inside these semi-transparent forms to mimic and signify both the language of light and imagery captured by the photographers but also the potentials of photovoice as method to highlight and illuminate expression not.

While the placement of these forms allows a collective representation of selected images, only one photo per side is anchored to the form requiring intimate engagement with each photo and the accompanying caption.

When external lighting is low, the light from inside the prisms projects on the ceiling above as a call out and reminder to continue work for, with and about girls.

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