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Feminist activism and art.

San Francisco

Several hundred women and a handful of men gathered at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in April for Utopia/Dystopia, the third annual conference on feminist activism and art. Younger conference participants, sporting punk haircuts and pierced body parts, mixed with older feminists to share ideas about art, social consciousness, and interactive technology.

A variety of artists spoke about how they've tried to improve their communities. They included Susan Cervantes, who spearheaded a mural movement that has changed the face of San Francisco's Mission District, and Jocelyn Taylor, co-producer of Dyke TV, the ground-breaking lesbian cable television program in New York City.

Kathleen Hanna, the lead singer of the punk band Bikini Kill and one of the founders of Riot Grrrl Press, a nonprofit distribution and printing service for underground female writers, sparked the most excitement. For many of the older attendees, this was a first introduction to the Riot Grrrl and fanzine movement among younger feminists. "Hanna gives me hope for the future of feminism," said one fortyish participant.

Hanna told the story of how she used the press to propagate the Riot Grrrl movement. In an interview with a reporter, she said, she lied about the existence of Riot Grrrl organizations all over the country so that "we would sound like a powerful source." Girls who read the article wrote to Hanna to ask how they could join the non-existent groups, and then formed chapters, making her claims come true. Hanna now shuns the mainstream Media and relies on personal contact with girls, especially after Bikini Kill concerts, to motivate them to make their voices heard.
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Title Annotation:third annual feminist art/political conference, 'Utopia/Dystopia,' Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, San Francisco, CA
Author:Lee, Margaret
Publication:The Progressive
Date:Jun 1, 1995
Words:274
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