Women Are On Display (In A Good Way) At This Video Installation In Chinatown

One of the Women In Windows films in the wild, from filmmaker Jasdeep Kang. (Courtesy Zhera Ahmed)

Visit Chinatown's Chung King Road this weekend and you'll see windows filled with videos exploring what it means to be a woman. Women In Windows is a multi-part video installation, showcasing films created by women of color, that runs through this Sunday.

Curator Zehra Ahmed detailed the installation's concept of the "frame" for women's bodies in an interview via email.

"The multifaceted and deeply personal female perspective cannot be contained by, or simplified to, a skin-deep, male-gaze centric representation of what it means to be female," Ahmed said. "As women we are conditioned to think that our physical appearances will get us further faster, and at the same time, men focus on those physical aspects. ... [Women In Windows] is highlighting the fact that men need to look at women's talents and their work a lot more. It can be just as exciting."

Arshia Fatima Haq's film The Ascension in Women in Women In Windows. (Courtesy Zehra Ahmed)

Change is already happening in surprising places — Ahmed cited Instagram as a platform helping women to present themselves on their own terms. But, she said, there still need to be more men helping to find talented women, thanks to men still serving as gatekeepers.

While the installation is about empowering women, Ahmed emphasized that men have supported her along the way too.

"A lot of men helped me on this project, and even though I am on the femme train and have no intention of getting off, I am constantly surrounded and supported by lots of men," Ahmed said. "No one can do it alone; we all need to be a part of this conversation together, so that it can keep moving forward in a positive direction."

Muna Malik's film Are You Here in Women In Windows. (Courtesy Zehra Ahmed)

The films run the range of subject matter from family history to the daily life of a black woman struggling with anxiety and depression.

The location on Chung King Road was chosen in part for its vibe, which Ahmed described as mysterious, but intimate and cozy. Hanging lanterns along the way cast a red hue that Ahmed called "seductive."

"Walking down the road, there is this real sense of discovery as you encounter [the films]," Ahmed said.

The films are leaving Chinatown soon, but Ahmed said she hopes to take these works to other cities, as well as expanding the number of films included. She's currently focusing on finding more video artists and filmmakers, but she added that she'd also love to do an exhibit feature women with another talent — DJing.

"This is really to highlight to young girls that they can be DJS if they want. It's not just a man thing," Ahmed said.

Women In Windows is on display now and will be in the windows of Chung King Road through this Sunday.

Here are the locations where you can find the films of Women In Windows (find the addresses here):

  • Garden, 2017 by Alima Lee - in the windows of Imprint Projects and Chungking Studio
  • The Ascension, 2018 by Arshia Fatima Haq in collaboration with Cassils - in the windows of Poetic Research Bureau
  • Ravel, 2014 by Gazelle Samizay - in the windows of Lisa Derrick Fine Arts
  • Phiran Wali (The Girl Who Walks), 2019 by Jasdeep Kang - in the windows of Automata Arts
  • Are You Here, 2019 by Muna Malik - in the windows of Preen Inc.
  • Shedding Skin, 2017 by Yumna Al-Arashi - in the windows of The Institute for Art and Olfaction