Resident Artist Shaheen Ahmed for Embodying Geographies at the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham
Artist's response: Embodying the Body
I attended the above symposium to take inspiration from the many female academics working in the fields, of Geography, Environmental Science and Geology. Historically, female geographers, explorers and academics worked in the shadow of their male counterparts. Even today, women are still under representated in these areas of expertise as well as many other academic areas. My role was to absorb this information and create a digital response.
I wanted to create something that carried the flow of data. I was asked to focus on adding the body to the work, and to take inspiration from the Lapworth Museum's display of the Trailblazers. Trailblazers was an exhibition of female exploreres, geologists, scientists and academics held at the Lapworth Museum in Birmingham UK.
I had several questions that I wanted to investigate one being, could the statistics be drowning the overall work of female scientists? A strong sense of rooting the data became evident for me during my residency. Pinning down the imbalance enabled me to work with a tiered structure of statistics. This created a transparency that helped me shape historic and modern narratives that were merging and floating, with waves of collective voices and shared practise in the fields of mapping, research, data logging and more. Female geologists and academics in the 19th century were known to wear large billowing dresses to excavate archealogical digs. I dressed one of the bodies with a cut out from a geological map of Great Britain. Marine Biologist and pioneer environmentalist, Rachel Carson's book 'Under the Sea Wind' is reprinted on one of the bodies along with a shift dress with a map compass on another.
Embodying Geographies Symposium
School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Birmingham