In Suzanne Lacy’s Silver Action performance on 3 February at Tate Modern the conversations of hundreds of female activists aged 60 or over were reinterpreted by a group of activist individuals via Twitter. As performers their role was to pull-up a seat to a card table, sit down and listen. By listening, rather than joining in, they reinterpreted the shared experiences of activism from the 1950s to present day via Twitter, taking the performance beyond The Tanks and out to an international activist community.
Following the performance here are excerpts of the blog accounts of just three of the many individuals who took to Twitter on the day of Silver Action:
Bearing witness to the words weaving their way across the network of tables I sat at the corners of was a humbling experience. Prompted by a series of questions posed by the artist, the conversations covered everything from the doors the production of cheap white goods and developments in childcare have opened for women, ageism and the effect of other forms of bias, modern perspectives on waste and the environment, possible remedies to societal breakdown and notions of “activism” in the masculine and the feminine realm…. Sunday’s event communicated the roles these women have had in social transformation to a very wide audience in a transformative way and highlighted the social relevance older women have to the whole of society now. It also reminded me how great Tate Modern is.
What an awesome day we had yesterday with Suzanne Lacy and her Silver Action art performance piece at the Tate Modern Tank space, where 400 women of 60 plus came together to have a huge conversation about their lives as feminists and activists. Jane and I sat in and recorded inspiring conversations that covered everything from leaving abusive relationships in the 60s when there was little support to the frustration felt over today’s young girls who feel they have nothing they need to fight for! It was a privilege to listen and our role was to tweet out the conversation to a bigger audience in (we think) the first artwork that has integrated real time social media comment into its content.
It’s rare for me to just listen without also talking and I found that rather than doing what I normally do - half-listening while thinking about what I’m going to say next - I was properly listening. Suzanne is concerned with the idea that older women are not valued or listened to in our society, so creating this space that forced us simply to listen to older women was important. There was a recurring theme throughout the discussions I witnessed that I found particularly challenging: many older women felt that young women now actually have it harder than they did. This surprised me, because listening to them talk about their experiences as young women, I was reminded of just what a difference their activism has made and felt incredibly grateful for the opportunities they created for me.
Return to the BMW Tate Live series of blog posts for further posts following the performance and let us know your view on the debates and stories shared, here on the blog, via #silveraction and @Tate_Live on Twitter.