“Resistance is Female” Takes Over Phone Booths in New York

The decentralized Resistance, as it turns out, is a majority of Americans.

And leading the charge are women and girls.

So it makes perfect sense that a new grassroots takeover of telephone booth advertising in New York is a campaign called, “Resistance is Female”. Organizers and artists say that the ad takeover project is putting out a message that corporate controlled media seems to be quelling: keep fighting, keep speaking up, persevere.

The artists have put up a couple of dozen or so new art pieces in places where typecast women typically sell shampoo or fashions: a high-jacking of the advertising streetscape which the French and the Situationists would have called détournement in earlier decades.

Gigi Chen for #resistanceisfemale (photo © Jaime Rojo)

This act of “taking over” phone booth spots has become more popular in recent years as artists and activists seize the machinery and claim public space for public messages.

The Resistance is Female idea came about after the Women’s March in DC,” says Street Artist Abe Lincoln Jr, a contributing artist and one of the few men in the collective. A well known name in the New York Street Art scene, Abe says not all the artists typically come from Street Art but all are now using the streets to get out their visual missives.

“This is a direct message to women (anyone who self identifies as female) and their allies to keep fighting,” he says. “It’s a general message of encouragement to resist the current ‘status quo’ of intolerance. Whatever your battle is, do it! We want to support you in persevering, speaking up, and fighting.”

Participants say they have many more actions planned for the coming months, and they are in it for the long haul, so keep your eyes peeled for the “Resistance is Female” moniker to pop up while you are waiting to cross the street, or on your way to the nightclub, or to do the laundry.

Kim Osborne for #resistanceisfemale (photo © Jaime Rojo)

We asked Abe Lincoln Jr. and Gigi Chen, another artist in the collective, about the new campaign.

BSA: Why is it important to get this message out?
Abe Lincoln, Jr. : The Resistance is Female is a project of visual signposts to encourage continued resistance. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by our unhinged president and it’s easy to get pulled in a million different directions by life. These are here to give support to give support and reminders to women to keep fighting.

BSA: Are all the artists participating in this campaign women and what’s the allure of using the platform of phone booths for the message?
Abe Lincoln, Jr. : No, its predominantly self-identified females, but we want to make it open to everyone, and to be as inclusive as possible. We also are asking people who aren’t necessarily street artists to make work for the project. It brings new voices to the conversation.

Shalini Prasad for#resistanceisfemale (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Placing this message in a space usually reserved for advertising can take people by surprise. It’s a disconnect; they’re expecting to tune out an ad for booze or some TV show and they get a message that says “Hey, keep it up! It’s far from over, and we got work to do!”

BSA: How do you see feminism and art in this polarized political environment?
Gigi Chen: I never used to be interested in politics when I was younger even less so in artists who make political art who seemed more superficially interested in the topics for their visual shock value. In many ways, Americans are shielded from the actual brutality of war, famine and even the more severe forms of female persecution such as genital mutilation/female circumcision.

Artists are always the ones to really start a dialogue publicly. Feminism as a concept was debated so much in the follow up to the election. That term “Feminism” is something I have lately had to rethink and rediscover. This project “Resistance is Female” is part of that visual movement. If just taking a glance of a poster can start a debate, then indeed this “Feminist” art project is “Political.”

Dusty Rebel for #resistanceisfemale (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The poster project has become something that I have been thinking about everyday since my piece got put up. I wonder “Who am I even to make this poster and throw myself into this movement and debate?” And then I have to stop myself and wonder why I am questioning the validity of my own role in this dialogue to begin with.

I am after all, a hard working artist who has struggled and created and thrown herself into her own work for years. As artists, male and female, we have the capability to visualize and show our points of view in a way that one can understand and, hopefully, empathize with.

The HOPE poster by Shepard Fairy was a huge part of brand recognition for a blossoming Barack Obama campaign and the “WE CAN DO IT” posters  mobilized our country during WWII. Even with all these political arguments among friends and strangers, I wonder how much of us generally consider ourselves actually “Political”?

Jack Adam for #resistanceisfemale (photo © Jaime Rojo)

According to organizers there are a number of participants from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines in Resistance Is Female so far, including  Abe Lincoln Jr., Sara Erenthal,  Maha Al Asaker, Jen Genotype, Kim Osborne, Valerie Lobasso, My Life in Yellow, Astrida Valigorsky, Gigi Chen, Shalini Prasad, Jack Adam, and The Dusty Rebel.

To learn more follow their Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/resistanceisfemale/

This article is also published on the Huffington Post