I mistakenly interrupt a viewing of “The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo.” When I first walk in to The Showroom, yet I am still greeted with a warm welcome and given the opportunity to sneak around the exhibition during the screening. (Although I was tempted to sit and finish the film, if you haven’t seen it I highly recommend it).
The Showroom itself makes for a perfect environment for the feminist library to co-exist with, as there is a sense of warmth and community, with a table filled with tea mugs and a kettle, and rows of chairs surrounding a small projector. The walls are lined with beautiful portraits by young self identified women of colour, which I later find out is a separate project, yet seems to fit so well with the key ideals of the feminist library.
A condensed version of the Feminist Library is on ‘loan’ within the exhibition, and the colourful illustrations and zines of all shapes and sizes instantly catch my eye. Even by looking through a few of the zines, you are able to see the absolute diversity and progression that the feminist library strives to represent. From 1975, until present, they have been gathering and growing a large archive of feminist literature, giving self identifying women and non binary people the ability to educate themselves on feminist theory, while also providing a nurturing and networking space for women to interact and connect with one another.
The instillations within the exhibition highlight the uncertainty of the library’s future, as it is currently searching for a permanent home, while marking the transitions the collective have experienced throughout the years. A promotional VHS of volunteers from 1992 plays on loop, symbolising the evolution of the collective while highlighting the strength and dedication these women had for the library.
The Feminist Library continues to pursue outreach work for women within the community by providing them with free workshops that were ran by leading artists, activists, and curators such as Liv Wynter. Creative writing, zine making workshops, dance workshops, and collaborative book-making workshops, were just some of the activities made available during the exhibition; all the work produced was then showcased in a community party, which also served as the closing day of the exhibition.
The Feminist Library has plans to work with more artists outside of the collective in the near future, and in places such as Berlin, so that they can connect with women across the board and develop networks.
Although the exhibition is now finished you can go and visit them at:
5 Westminster Bridge Rd, South Bank, London SE1 7XW
You can also follow them on Twitter to find out about their latest events, and you can become a friend of the library for as little as £3 a month to support their move to a new home here.