Doing it the Womanifesto way

When the world shut down in 2020, Womanifesto sprang to action. The group, which formed in Thailand in 1995 as a grassroots women’s art collective and biennale, began hosting weekly gatherings of local artists around the world, continuing rituals of sharing and art making in “the Womanifesto way”.

For the Sydney contingent of the group, the works they conceptualised during that time—including performance, video, multimedia and sculpture—are now realised in an exhibition celebrating Womanifesto’s ethos of collective care. “The artists are leading the reflection on and the telling of their own history of Womanifesto through contemporary works that are about exchange between contemporary artists,” says co-curator and publications manager Marni Williams.

Womanifesto began as a way for women to make art on their own terms.”

An accompanying digital anthology with Power Publications presents Womanifesto’s history through a new format and lens. “It’s the first in an experimental form of trying to combine art historical research and digital publishing with creative practice,” says Williams.

Womanifesto began as a way for women to make art on their own terms. “It started from thinking, ‘If we can’t do this, [instead] we can do this,’” says co-curator and Womanifesto co-founding artist Phaptawan Suwannakudt. “We did not fit into what in Thailand at that time was seen as a substantial way of making art.”

The 2020 gatherings were an example of the group’s adaptability. “They would respond very flexibly and organically,” says co-curator Yvonne Low. “The idea behind [the gatherings] was triggered by the global pandemic, to support women’s practice at precarious times.”

Decades later, Womanifesto’s initial aims remain just as crucial. “I think it’s very important for the next generation, because we are not out of it,” says Suwannakudt. “It’s always good to reflect on what we are doing.”

Womanifesto: The Womanifesto Way
4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art
4 November—17 December

This article was originally published in the November/December 2023 print edition of Art Guide Australia.

Preview Words by Giselle Au-Nhien Nguyen