Artist Nikki Luna de­bunks mis­con­cep­tions about fem­i­nism

Lessons on fem­i­nism with artist Nikki Luna

Red Magazine - - Contents - WORDS RIA PRI­ETO

It is the artist’s duty to re­mind. And Nikki Luna has been dili­gent about it, from pulp­ing con­fi­den­tial ma­te­rial into blank pages to paint­ing her resin in­stal­la­tion blood-red. Fe­male vic­tory, op­pres­sion, and so­cial phan­toms that haunt women take new form in her hands. Pro­vok­ing vivid rec­ol­lec­tion isn’t sim­ply the af­ter­math; it’s the point ev­ery time.

After a series of lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional ex­hi­bi­tions, Luna is now tak­ing part in the re­call through her re­search-based artist fel­low­ship granted by the Asian Cul­tural Coun­cil. The RED March 2017 cover woman is cur­rently based in New York, from where she dis­patched her thoughts on fem­i­nism and the so­ci­ety back here at home.

What are five com­mon myths about fem­i­nists?

That fem­i­nists hate men. Fem­i­nism is not against men, but we are against the pa­tri­archy.

An­other one is that fem­i­nists can’t be moth­ers or housewives. There is also the prob­lem of so­ci­ety equat­ing wom­an­hood to moth­er­hood. We must re­mem­ber that moth­er­hood is not ev­ery woman’s des­tiny.

It’s also a myth that fem­i­nists don’t like makeup or prac­tic­ing self-care. Tak­ing care of her ap­pear­ance is a choice a woman should have. It only be­comes a prob­lem when so­ci­ety de­mands unattain­able “beauty stan­dards” and makes choices for women re­gard­ing what they can and can­not wear.

Fourth, that fem­i­nists are les­bians—as if there is any­thing wrong with be­ing one.

Fi­nally, that fem­i­nism is only for women. A fem­i­nist can be any­one, from dif­fer­ent na­tion­al­i­ties, ages, gen­ders, etc. If you be­lieve in re­spect­ing and valu­ing girls and women [by giv­ing them] equal foot­ing in so­ci­ety, then you can be a fem­i­nist.

What three things do you wish the Philip­pines had?

First, that re­pro­duc­tive health care is ac­tu­ally prop­erly im­ple­mented. It will make a huge dif­fer­ence to have ac­ces­si­ble, safe, and re­li­able health­care ser­vices, from pre-natal to birth to post-natal ma­ter­nal and in­fant care, es­pe­cially for the marginal­ized. Sec­ond, a higher de­gree of equal­ity for women. Third, peace talks. This is cru­cial, since in the Philip­pines, there are more peo­ple liv­ing in poverty. There’s a need to de­velop our ru­ral econ­omy and look into how policies and laws con­tinue to op­press the poor.

Who are the women you look up to?

My Univer­sity of the Philip­pines pro­fes­sors in women and devel­op­ment stud­ies: Sylvia Clau­dio, Judy Tagui­walo, and Nathalie Verce­les. The tres marias: Glenda Glo­ria, Lili­beth Fon­droso, and Maria Ressa. Patti Smith for her mu­sic and her art, and how grounded she is. Judy Chicago’s pas­sion for fem­i­nist art is truly in­spir­ing. •

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