In 1969, radical feminist Carol Hanisch wrote a short text entitled ‘Personal is Political’. The title referred to the idea that when you share your personal issues with others in a closed circle, that is, with “your kind of people”, you realise that the problems that you are stuck with are not only yours, but they are embedded in the structures of society. Silvia Federici, an Italian feminist scholar, refers to a group where it is safe to share personal issues with likeminded people as an autonomous group. People take part in autonomous groups willingly. The meetings are not only important to the individuals who participate in the group discussions, but they also have a wide-reaching impact on society (groups that want to keep the issues and values shared within the group amongst themselves are called separatist groups, according to Federici).


In my research, I organise and take part in sessions that are called Feminist gatherings. I am interested in the notions of gathering and sharing; processes where something that touches you personally turns into something political.


We organised two public open gatherings at the Research Pavilion in Venice. The first gathering was held in May 2019 together with Anna-Kaisa Rastenberger (KuvA) and Annette Krauss and Tiong Ang (HKU Utrecht) as well as students from both universities. We also did a walk at Giudecca Claudia Faraone (Luav, Venezia) with feminist perspective.

The second gathering was organised with some of the members of our research cell Disruptive Processes and additional participants.

Feminist Gathering

Jaana Kokko

This is page is in progress but showing some of my contribution to the Research Pavillon in Venice 2019

as part of the cell Disruptive Processes.


Political Image

The image on the wall canvas is based on a photograph where a 15-year-old girl is making pillowcases for her trousseau (kapiot in Finnish). I used this image as a reference for the image in the woodcut.


In the process, I studied how memory is materialised in the canvas and how a deeply personal and emotional relationship with the material can turn into a political one. By copying and using the method of the woodcut, the photo of the peasant girls making their bridal trousseaus transforms into an image of factory workers.


Memory becomes materialised in the canvas. The pillowcases not only include the hours of work and the hopes and fears of their makers, but also the work, hopes and fears of the (women) who cultivated the cotton plant somewhere in the world. They include the dreams, sweat and oil from the scalps of those whose heads rested on the pillowcases.


Like others, I also worked for hours on this material, unstitching, printing (during my stay at the Research Pavillon in Venice) and ironing it. Wood cuts were hanged together with Anni Laakso's sculpture Agora. In the end, I was helped in sewing by Leena Pukki.

Photo: Jaana Kokko