Women pioneers celebrated in style
Published on 05 February 2013 11:30 AM
The Tate Modern on London's South Bank saw a unique day of performance art on February 3, as American artist Suzanne Lacy's Silver Action brought together more than 400 women over the age of 60, to engage in live and unscripted discussion.
What stood out about this group of women was that they were among the country's foremost feminists and activists. The last time they had gathered in such numbers was to battle towards changing Britain's social landscape, and to make themselves heard during activities at the Greenham Common peace camp and the Miss World demonstrations in the 1970s and 1980s.
Silver Action has been designed by Lacy to explore the invisibility of women in the public arena once they pass a certain age. Lacy's vision is to promote the fact that these women still have a meaningful voice.
Lacy wanted to frame the issue of ageing within activism, and to enforce the point that women should always have a voice, regardless of a particular picket line or a specific march. Lacy claims that London is ready to explore such issues, and she wanted to use the women she had gathered together to promote a healthy discourse, particularly as many of them are now at the age where decisions about the distribution of public resources can have a profound affect on their lives.
'Society owes a debt to these women' - Ranzen
The women involved in Silver Action were responsible for many of the things we now take for granted, according to Lacy, and they were from a unique generation that fought for and made happen many of the things that make-up the quality of life we now expect.
Television personality Esther Rantzen agreed with Lacy. Having just set up a confidential helpline for older people called the The Silver Line, she was quick to point out that having grown up alongside these women, the Silver Action group represented a real snapshot of the revolution that had occurred in her lifetime. Rantzen claimed that today's society owes a debt to them, whether it was through the victory against apartheid or for the proliferation of nursery schools.
Lacy hopes to pioneer a cultural shift in perspective with Silver Action, which has been five months in the planning and is only one event at the start of a year-long project at the South Bank Centre, relating to the topics of women and ageing.
Copyright Press Association 2013