Women in Arts: Disobedience Paths

A conference by Joumana Haddad, the Lebanese author of the book I Killed Xerazade: Confessions of an Angry Arab Woman, and the post-premiere of the new film by the British director Sally Potter, The Party, feature among the highlights of the October 2017 international meeting at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation that is to debate the affirmation of women in literature, in music, in cinema, in the visual arts and in the performing arts.

“Any form of creativity emerges out of disobedience, thus, the capacity to question that which exists”, stated Inês Pedrosa and Patrícia Reis, commissioners of Women in Arts: Disobedience Paths. In the presentation of this event, they also recall how “the female half of humanity was apparently confined to silence and to obedience up until just over a century ago” before evoking Clarice Lispector and Virginia Woolf as symbols of a counter-culture of resistance. This thus establishes the framework for the various questions that they wish to see discussed over the course of the two days of this international encounter that brings together a couple of dozen artists and that unfolds over speeches, debates, and “conversations about life”, among other initiatives.

With her lucid and vociferous voice, the Lebanese writer and journalist Joumana Haddad (Beirut, 1970), who launched the Arabic language magazine Jasad about the body in 2009, is the keynote speaker at this event. Haddad has dedicated herself to destroying the taboos and equivocations around creativity, art and the relationship between men and women, whether in the East or in the West. She is in Lisbon for the launch of the Portuguese version of her book I Killed Scheherazade: Confessions of an Angry Arab Woman. In her speech, she is to discuss the contemporary meaning of being Arabic and female. According to Joumana Haddad, it makes no sense for the classical literary figure of Xerazade, a temptress whose life is dependent on her abilities to keep men interested in her, continues to represent the reality and attitude of Arab women.

Three leading figures of Portuguese culture are duly honoured in the “Conversations about Life” segment: the authors Lídia Jorge and Maria Teresa Horta, and the painter Graça Morais; with the latter having recently exhibited her painted and sketched works at the Gulbenkian Foundation in Paris.

Women in Arts: Disobedience Paths also features the Portuguese premiere of The Party, the new film by Sally Potter, the director of the award winning Orlando (1992), among her other memorable films. With a star-studded cast, including Patricia Clarkson, Bruno Ganz, Timothy Spall, Cillian Murphy and Kristin Scott Thomas, the film accompanies a celebration among friends – the host having just been nominated for a new political role –, but the celebrations end in tragedy following a series of dramatic revelations. Having premiered at the Berlin Festival, the film is described by Sally Potter as a “political comedy” and may be seen in Portugal for the first time at the Gulbenkian Foundation.