Pieter Space, Los Angeles  2017

One Woman Shows is a play on words against the singularity of the solo exhibition to a model of multiplicity as a group of women witnessed and performed acts of self-naming. The project, initiated by Cindy Rehm is inspired by Suzanne Lacy’s 1975 collaborative performance, One Woman Shows. The network of performers was built through a chainmail structure to produce an interconnected community of participants who engaged in an experience that is both intimate and communal.

One Woman Shows is  A Metabolic Studio Special Project in archiving/the Woman’s Building


photo credit: Nora Zukker 2012

photo credit: Nora Zukker 2012

In the summer of 2012, I spent 3 months in Berlin. The image above is from one of several bike rides I led in Kreuzberg and Neukölln. I lived in Neukölln, an area with a large Arab-Muslim population, much like the one in Chicago where I grew up. Roughly 200,000 people ride their bikes on any given day in Berlin yet I never saw a hijab-wearing woman on a bicycle. My sisters and I were forbidden by our parents to ride bikes. Our brother faced no such restrictions. My parents immigrated to the U.S. from Yemen, where conservative values of gender inequality are the norm. They were raised to believe it was improper for girls to ride bikes, that bicycle riding was a threat to a girl's virginity, her “highest virtue”.

I was happy to learn that as more Syrian refugees began to arrive in Germany, several groups began offering lessons to girls and women who had never ridden bikes before. To this day, it is taboo for a woman to be seen riding a bicycle in several countries including Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan. A headline in 2015 read “Shock and Controversy as Women in Yemen Ride Bikes,” it described a protest ride that 14 women turned up for; 4 knew how to ride bikes.