Albertine Books, the French Embassy’s Acclaimed Bookshop and Cultural Hub, to Host First-Ever Public Festival Aimed at Advancing Dialogue Between Leading Female Thinkers and Artists in the U.S. and France, November 1-5
Discussions to Feature Roxane Gay, Christiane Taubira, Guerrilla Girls, Laure Adler, Houda Benyamina, Robin Coste Lewis, Marie Darrieussecq, Marie de Cenival, Caroline de Haas, Anne Garréta, Soraya Chemaly, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Delphine Horvilleur, Daisy Khan, Mary Kathryn Nagle, Heidi Steltzer, Wassyla Tamzali, Lauren Wolfe, Elaine Welteroth and Others
All Events Are Free and Will Be Streamed Live at livestream.com/frenchembassy
“Just as there can be no deep social change without the arts, there can be no shift without dialogue; no action without the words to incite it in our minds.”—Gloria Steinem and Robin Morgan
The Cultural Services of the French Embassy and Albertine Books, the dynamic bookshop and cultural center operated by the French Embassy in New York, are pleased to announce that pioneering feminist writers and activists Gloria Steinem and Robin Morgan are the curators of the fourth annual Festival Albertine. For the five-day free public event (November 1-5, 2017), Steinem and Morgan have invited a diversity of organizers, artists, writers, scholars, politicians, religious leaders and journalists—a lineup spanning cultures, generations and areas of expertise—not simply to explore the obstacles confronting women, but to “dare to dream of change and of a legitimate equality between women and men.”
For Steinem and Morgan, Festival Albertine 2017 is an opportunity to realize, in person and in public, a vital exchange of ideas between leading female thinkers and artists in the U.S. and France. The event is a timely new iteration of a longstanding and mutually-energizing dialogue that stretches back to the mid-20th Century, when Simone de Beauvoir published her groundbreaking 1949 book The Second Sex, having traveled across the United States for four months in 1947; and Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique debuted in 1963, inspiring the establishment of the National Organization for Women. In 1972, Ms. magazine’s historic inaugural cover story, “We Had Abortions,” followed the example of French feminists who had signed a petition demanding abortion’s decriminalization. In 1984, de Beauvoir and Morgan joined forces to cofound the Sisterhood Is Global Institute, the first international feminist think tank.
While the U.S. and France have long produced some of the most influential feminist thinkers and still do, their sometimes diverging perspectives on questions surrounding issues such as religion, childcare, and work-life balance, together with their commonalities, will offer material for fruitful debate. “In all our diversity on both sides of the Atlantic, today perhaps more than ever before, women are experiencing the double jeopardy of sex and race, the need for and resistance to political representation, the challenges of old and new media, workplace and parenting inequality, gendered daily violence plus a very gendered terrorism, religious extremism versus spirituality, and the gendered plus universal danger of global warming,” they explain. According to the curators, this international conversation is as urgent as ever. “The future of all of us on this small blue planet depends on making these connections between subjects now seen as unconnected. The human race is a bird with two wings. If one is broken, the bird cannot fly.”
Among the speakers addressing these concerns in this year’s festival are Laure Adler, journalist, author and cultural adviser to the late French President François Mitterrand; award-winning film director and screenwriter Houda Benyamina; ; writer, media critic and activist Soraya Chemaly; spoken-word poet, performing artist and LGBT rights political activist Staceyann Chin, journalist and a writer Mona Chollet; National Book Award-winning poet Robin Coste Lewis; author, playwright and Charlie Hebdo contributor Marie Darrieussecq; Act Up activist and co-founder of the radical feminist action group La Barbe, Marie de Cenival; activist and politician Caroline de Haas; Diller Scofidio + Renfro founding partner Elizabeth Diller; Roxane Gay author of Difficult Women and Bad Feminist, and contributing opinion writer for the New York Times; novelist Anne Garréta; Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-founder and co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation; the “feminist masked avengers” Guerrilla Girls; journalist and rabbi Delphine Horvilleur; Daisy Khan, Founder and Executive Director of the Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality (WISE); Arts Director of the Monnaie de Paris Camille Morineau; playwright and lawyer specializing in the sovereignty of Native tribes and peoples Mary Kathryn Nagle; environmental scientist Heidi Steltzer; American pro-choice activist and president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund Cecile Richards Algerian lawyer, author and former director of Women’s Rights at UNESCO Wassyla Tamzali,; Christiane Taubira, former Justice Minister of France; journalist and Women Under Siege director Lauren Wolfe; Elaine Welteroth, Editor in Chief of Teen Vogue, and others.
Bénédicte de Montlaur, Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy in the United States, says of this year’s festival, “France and the US have a long history of rich intellectual exchange around issues of feminism and have led the world in the fight for women’s rights. At the same time, both countries are among the few Western democracies that have yet to elect a female head-of-state. Although great strides have been made, gender equality remains at the forefront of our public conversations in France, the US and around the world. The time has come to take stock. This year’s Festival Albertine, curated by Gloria Steinem and Robin Morgan asks some of the most interesting French and American voices from diverse disciplines to engage in a rare and vital dialogue, working towards a renewed vision of feminism today and outlining what an egalitarian future could be.”
Festival Albertine 2017 will take place at Albertine Books (972 Fifth Avenue). Additional participants and the festival schedule will be announced soon at Albertine.com. All events will be streamed live at livestream.com/frenchembassy.
This program is presented in conjunction with Festival Albertine 2017, an annual series of conversations produced by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and Albertine Books that invites French and American authors, artists, scholars, and activists to explore current issues from French and American perspectives. More information: www.albertine.com.
From November 5-9, Anthology Film Archives, the international center for film study, preservation, and exhibition in New York, will present rare films by feminists Carole Roussopoulos (1945-2009), a pioneer of activist media in France, and Nathalie Magnan (1956-2016), a media theoretician and champion of cyberfeminism. To view the schedule of screenings, visit www.anthologyfilmarchives.org
Festival Albertine 2017 – Tentative Lline Of Events
Wednesday, November 1, 7pm
From the Voting Booth to Your Living Room
Participants include but are not limited to Christiane Taubira
The voting booth is the only place on earth where the least powerful and most powerful are equal. Or at least, that should and would be true, if it weren’t for such fixable problems as low voter turn-out, unlimited political spending, gerrymandering, and voter suppression. This panel is devoted to discussing how to make the first sentence a reality by minimizing the second.
Do we do this by emphasizing the impact of voting on our daily lives? How can we encourage more diverse and representative candidacies for public office, as culturally diverse democracies should? Both the United States and France have never elected a female president. Why has this been the case, what does it mean, and most importantly, how can we change this situation? All of these questions—and more—will be open to exploration.
Thursday, November 2, 7pm
Thursday, November 2, 7pm
How to Become Visible
Participants include but are not limited to Laure Adler, Soraya Chemaly, Nassira El Moaddem, Elaine Welteroth, moderated by Lauren Wolfe
As feminists say, “you need to see it to be it.”
We live in what is called the “Information Age.” And it’s true that more people are exposed to more media than ever before. It’s also true that women are underrepresented in the media and that the distance between facts and Fake News, between the world privileged with media and one deprived of electricity, or even literacy, has never been greater. Many factors have contributed to this situation. The panel will address such crises as increasing censorship of both traditional and online news sources; lack of fact-checking; advertising as censorship; physical assaults on and jailing of journalists—and the fact that much of this behavior is encouraged by some political leaders.
It will also discuss such subtle threats as media control by media moguls; how the media shapes our understandings through the representations of society—of women in particular; and issues such as “false equivalency;” cyber-bullying; or “trolling” that suppress ideas and groups. We will discuss how to make an individual, group, fact, idea, or chosen identity visible in today’s media landscape.
Friday, November 3, 7pm
Art, Body and Representation
Participants include but are not limited to Roxane Gay, Mona Chollet and Camille Morineau.
The difference between a woman’s body as experienced by its inhabitant, and a woman’s body as observed or represented, is the difference between truth and fantasy. This panel will explore the personal, social, and political consequences of that division, as it is projected and enforced by power. This power is expressed in advertising, arts, fashion, film, TV, fiction, and graffiti, as well as in beauty standards, eating disorders and archaic female mutilation customs. Such expressions take place in a worldwide context of objectification of and violence against women that includes rape, battery, sexual harassment, “honor murders,” sex trafficking, survival sex, denial of protein to females, denial of both reproductive freedom and safe motherhood, and other appropriations of the female body. Each of these can be re-doubled by racism, ethnicity, homophobia, caste, disability, and class. How to reclaim the integrity of the female body and its representation? How do women artists explore the concept of body in their works? And what impact does art have on our perception of the female body?
Saturday, November 4, 5pm
The Politics of Language
Participants include but are not limited to Mary Kathryn Nagle, Marie Darrieussecq, Anne Garréta, Robin Coste Lewis, moderated by Gloria Steinem
Language can reveal, conceal, and even define reality. This becomes all the more evident in both media and literature, where language frames and creates imagery that becomes the basis for actions, attitudes, and opinions. Words assign labels, identities and value—negative and positive alike. Saying “prostituted woman” makes the woman visible as more than a “prostitute,” and an “enslaved man” is more than just a “slave.”
Now that we are beginning to liberate our language from the divisions of gender and race, we also may take heart from, say, Cherokee and other Native American languages—like such pre-patriarchal languages in Asia or in Africa—that have no gendered pronouns like “he” or “she,” and no words for nature, since humans are part of nature. As philosopher Suzanne K. Langer wrote, “The notion of giving something a name is the vastest generative idea that was ever conceived.” This panel will question old limits, and suggest words for new freedoms.
Saturday, November 4, 7:30pm
The Politics of Religion
Participants include but are not limited to Wassyla Tamzali, Delphine Horvilleur, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Daisy Khan
Religion is a major force in political life, yet we are not supposed to discuss—or even name—its influence. This panel will go where others fear to tread. In their desire to control reproduction, patriarchal religions have sought to control women and viewed them as a threat to their power.
Religious political influence is a challenge to the separation of church and state—a unique and apparently still radical distinction made by the framers of the U.S. Constitution and a cornerstone of the French Republic. It is also an internalized problem for women and men who have been raised in patriarchal religions. Now, more than ever we need to expose the politics of religion, yet also preserve each person’s right to her or his spiritual beliefs.
Sunday, November 5, 3:30pm
Slam poetry performance – Staceyann Chin followed by debate It Starts in the Streets
Participants include but are not limited to but are not limited to Marie de Cenival (La Barbe), Kathe Kollowitz (Guerrilla Girl), Frida Kahlo (Guerrilla Girl), Houda Benyamina, moderated by Elisabeth Sackler
When “La Brique”, a name adopted by two young graphic designers, wanted to change consciousness in Rennes, France, they made night raids, and replaced some of the very many street signs bearing men’s names with signs bearing women’s names instead. When the Guerilla Girls wanted to protest the almost total exclusion of women artists from museums in the U.S., they created posters and graffiti with the question: “Must a woman be nude to get into the Metropolitan Museum of Art?” Other signs declared: “MoMA is a female impersonator.” Change starts where people are, and people are in the streets, as shown by movements such as Black Lives Matter, Women’s March, Femen, as well as the many forms of street art that are displayed in our cities.
This panel will explore the vibrant, outrageous, imaginative, verbal and visual ways that big changes have begun in small places, both through activism and through the arts. Reflecting on the changing nature of public spaces—both physical and digital—it will also brainstorm on how to do this in the future.
Sunday, November 5, 6pm
An Egalitarian Future
Participants include but are not limited to Caroline de Haas, Heidi Steltzer, Elizabeth Diller, and Cecile Richards, moderated by Carol Jenkins
We won’t have a democratic future without democratic families and this means men raising children as much as women do, and women working and leading outside the home as much as men do. That is a personal place to begin. There are also political results. For instance, the single greatest determinant of violence inside any country—and of whether a nation will use military aggression against another nation—is not poverty, access to natural resources, religion, or even degrees of democracy. It is violence against females.
Thus, the equality and welfare of women may be the key to solving otherwise intractable problems that would stop us from even having a future. The future of all of us on this small blue planet depends on making these connections between subjects now seen as unconnected. This panel will connect all areas of women’s equality to democracy, to peaceful conflict resolution, to solving global warming, and to survival. Humanity is a bird with two wings. If one is broken, the bird cannot fly.
About the Curators
Gloria Steinem is a writer, lecturer, political activist and feminist organizer. She travels in this and other countries as an organizer and lecturer and is a frequent media spokeswoman on issues of equality. She is particularly interested in the shared origins of sex and race caste systems, gender roles and child abuse as roots of violence, non-violent conflict resolution, the cultures of indigenous peoples and organizing across boundaries for peace and justice. She lives in New York City, and recently published My Life on the Road, her first book in over twenty years.
An award-winning author, Robin Morgan has published over 20 books, and is a leader in U.S. and international feminism. She and Simone de Beauvoir co-founded The Sisterhood Is Global Institute. She hosts “Women’s Media Center Live with Robin Morgan,” a syndicated radio show and podcast.
About the Participants
Laure Adler is a journalist, author of more than 25 written works, publisher, and radio/TV producer. She holds a PhD in history with a thesis on feminists of the 19th century and has served as cultural adviser to the French President François Mitterrand. Adler teaches at Sciences Po Paris about women and feminism and will publish in October Dictionnaire intime des femmes in France.
Houda Benyamina is a film director and screenwriter. Her César-and Cannes Camera d’Or-winning film, Divines, follows young women from the outskirts of Paris who use violence and grace as means to achieve their goals. She actively works toward gender equality in the film industry through her organization, 1000 Visages.
Soraya Chemaly is an award-winning writer, media critic and activist. Her writing appears regularly in international media and she frequently speaks on topics related to feminism, free speech, sexualized violence and media portrayals of gender. She is a co-founder and director of the Women’s Media Center Speech Project.
Staceyann Chin is a spoken-word poet, performing artist and LGBT rights political activist. Her work has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Pittsburgh Daily, and has been featured on 60 Minutes. She was also featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, where she shared her struggles growing up as a gay person in Jamaica.
Mona Chollet, is a Switzerland-born journalist and a writer. She has been living in France for 20 years and works for Le Monde diplomatique in Paris. Her books include Beauté fatale, about the feminine obsession with beauty, and Chez soi (2015), a defense of time spent at home.
Robin Coste Lewis, the winner of the National Book Award for Voyage of the Sable Venus, is the poet laureate of Los Angeles. She is writer-in-residence at the University of Southern California, as well as a Cave Canem fellow and a fellow of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities. She received her MFA in poetry from New York University, an MTS in Sanskrit and comparative religious literature from the Divinity School at Harvard University, and a PhD in poetry and visual studies from the University of Southern California.
Marie Darrieussecq is a writer and psychoanalyst and a graduate from the Ecole Normale Superieure. She’s the author of twelve novels, a number of short stories and a play. She writes in art magazines in London and Paris, and in Charlie Hebdo. Her, first novel Pig Tales (1996) was published in 45 countries. She won the Prix Médicis in 2013 for Il faut beaucoup aimer les hommes.
Elizabeth Diller is a founding partner of Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R), an interdisciplinary design studio that works at the intersection of architecture, the visual arts, and the performing arts. DS+R’s work includes the High Line, Lincoln Center redesign, and The Shed. Diller is Professor of Architecture at Princeton University.
Marie de Cenival is a former Act Up activist and founder of the radical feminist action group, La Barbe (The Beard), which denounces white men’s monopoly on power, prestige and money in France. De Cenival is now Senior Gender Advisor for Heartland Alliance International, a U.S.-based human rights organization.
Nassira El Moaddem is a journalist and one of the few female editors-in-chief of a French media outlet. She began her career as a reporter and news anchor at Itele/Canal+ before joining France 2. In 2016, she took the helm of the Bondy Blog, a news website that gives voices to the voiceless, especially those living on the outskirts of cities.
Caroline de Haas, an activist and politician, has fought violence against women as an adviser to the French Minister of Women’s Rights. She has launched several organizations dedicated to promoting equality or improving women’s visibility in the media and public sphere. She is the co-author of Mais qu’est-ce qu’elles veulent encore!
Roxane Gay is a professor, editor, commentator, and author of the New York Times best-sellers Hunger and Bad Feminist, Difficult Women and An Untamed State as well as World of Wakanda for Marvel. She is a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times.
Anne Garréta is a French novelist, one of the few female members of the OuLiPo literary movement, and an occasional DJ. Her first novel, Sphynx, a love story, was written without the use of any gender markers. Garréta rejects the traditional representations of genders that are embedded in our social codes.
Annie Laurie Gaylor co-founded the Freedom From Religion Foundation with her mother Anne Gaylor in 1976, after a feminist awakening, and is now co-president. She is also co-administrator of the Women’s Medical Fund charity. Books include Woe to the Women: The Bible Tells Me So and Women Without Superstition.
The Guerrilla Girls are feminist masked avengers in the tradition of anonymous do-gooders like Robin Hood, Wonder Woman and Batman. Using facts, humor and outrageous visuals they expose discrimination and corruption in politics, art, film, and pop culture. They undermine the idea of a mainstream narrative by revealing the understory, the subtext, the overlooked, and the downright unfair. Since 1985 they have reinvented the f-word ‘feminism’ in over a hundred posters, street projects, actions, books, and billboards.
Delphine Horvilleur is a French rabbi, a writer and chief editor of the magazine Tenou’a. She makes frequent appearances in the media. Following her books, En tenue d’Eve (2013) and Comment les Rabbins font les enfants (2015), she will publish Les milles et une façons d’être Juif ou Musulman aujourd’hui with Rachid Benzine in the fall 2017.
Daisy Khan is Founder and Executive Director of the Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality (WISE), a women-led organization committed to peacebuilding, equality, and justice for Muslims around the globe. Ms. Khan recently launched WISE’s most ambitious peacebuilding tool, WISE Up, a book and campaign aimed at fighting extremism and Islamophobia.
Mary Kathryn Nagle is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation. She serves as the Executive Director of the Yale Indigenous Performing Arts Program and is a partner at Pipestem Law, P.C., where she works to protect tribal sovereignty and women and children from violence and sexual assault. Nagle has authored briefs in federal appellate courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.
Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, is a nationally respected leader in women’s health and reproductive rights. Ms. Richards leads a movement that has worked for more than 100 years to build a healthier and safer world for women, young people, and marginalized communities.
Heidi Steltzer, Ph.D. is an environmental scientist, explorer, and science storyteller. She is an Associate Professor at Fort Lewis College, serves on the leadership team for Homeward Bound, and recently founded the Colorado Mountain Center, where scientists invest as much in sharing what they do with the world, as doing science.
Wassyla Tamzali, a former director of Women’s Rights at UNESCO, has published several books on the importance of secularism, particularly in Arab and Maghrebi societies. She is a strong advocate for the rights of all women, regardless of their backgrounds and religious affiliations, and has widely contributed to the debate on Arab uprisings and revolutions.
Christiane Taubira in the founder of the left-wing Guianese party Walwari, and was elected four times to the National Assembly of FranceShe was the driving force behind the 2001 law that recognizes the Atlantic slave trade and slavery as a crime against humanity. In 2012, she was appointed Justice Minister of France. In that capacity, she oversaw fundamental penal reforms that prevent recidivism and promote rehabilitation, and introduced a law that both legalized same-sex marriage in France and allows same-sex couples to adopt children.
Lauren Wolfe is an award-winning journalist and photographer who has written for publications from The Atlantic to The New York Times. She is currently a columnist at Foreign Policy magazine and the director of WMC (Women Under Siege), a journalism project on sexualized violence in conflict originated by Gloria Steinem at the Women’s Media Center in New York.
About Festival Albertine
Inaugurated in 2014 in the newly-opened Albertine Books, Festival Albertine has quickly become a vital summit for discourse between leading French-speaking and American thinkers, and has cemented Albertine Books’ reputation as New York City’s hub for timely French-American intellectual exchange. Author, journalist and cultural critic Greil Marcus curated the 2014 festival, which featured “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, filmmaker Olivier Assayas, author Mary Gaitskill, graphic novelist Marjane Satrapi, Nobel Prize-winning mathematician John Nash and Fields Medal-winning mathematician Cédric Villani. Festival Albertine 2015 enlisted innovators including National Book Award-winner Judith Thurman, Performa founding director RoseLee Goldberg, author Adam Gopnik, Ethiopian-American novelist Dinaw Mengestu and The New Yorker art editor Françoise Mouly to curate a variety of discussions. Participants included The New Yorker editor David Remnick, graphic novelist Phoebe Gloeckner, Pulitzer Prize-winning critic and author Margo Jefferson, and author Katie Roiphe, who were joined by French-speaking voices including Mauritania-born film director Abderrahmane Sissako, Algerian novelist Kamel Daoud and cartoonist and film director Riad Sattouf.
Ta-Nehisi Coates, journalist and author of the National Book Award-winning Between the World and Me, curated last year’s festival, focusing on questions of labels and categories. After the presidency of Barack Obama, after the 2005 riots, after the attacks on Charlie Hebdo, Coates asked participants including Benjamin Millepied, Claudia Rankine and Benjamin Stora to discuss what our national, social and cultural labels mean today.
About the Cultural Services of the French Embassy
The Cultural Services of the French Embassy promotes the best of French arts, literature, cinema, digital innovation, language, and higher education across the US. Based in New York City, Washington D.C., and eight other cities across the country, the Cultural Services brings artists, authors, intellectuals and innovators to cities nationwide. It also builds partnerships between French and American artists, institutions and universities on both sides of the Atlantic. In New York, through its bookshop Albertine, it fosters French-American exchange around literature and the arts.
About Albertine Books
Described by the New York Times as a “sumptuous, swaddled nest where book lovers can roost,” Albertine, the French Embassy’s reading room and bookshop, is a haven dedicated to bringing to life French-American intellectual exchange. It holds over 14,000 titles from 30 French-speaking countries, both in French and in English translation. Albertine offers the most comprehensive selection of French-language books and English translations in the United States.
Housed within the historic Payne Whitney Mansion, headquarters of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in New York, the bookshop and cultural space provide unprecedented access to a previously private mansion featuring a stunning new design by one of France’s most celebrated modern architects, Jacques Garcia.
Since Albertine opened in September 2014, the Embassy has welcomed thousands of visitors eager to explore French literature and culture. It has become a veritable must-see destination in New York City. Albertine also provides a venue for cross-cultural programming all year long, with discussions exploring culture through both a contemporary and global lens. Every month French, Francophone or American writers, as well as artists, illustrators, scholars and entrepreneurs are invited to discuss various topics.
Funding Credits / Acknowledgments
Festival Albertine is made possible with major support from Air France, Fondation CHANEL, Institut français, and Van Cleef & Arpels. Generous support is provided by Champagne Pommery and Intercontinental New York Barclay.
Blake Zidell at Blake Zidell & Associates: 718.643.9052, firstname.lastname@example.org/