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Lin Gibson Murdered by Misogyny: Forever

Gallery 1C03


engraved brass plaque reads "in memory of Nathalie Croteau MURDERED BY MISOGYNY December 6, 1989, Montreal"

Lin Gibson, Murdered by Misogyny: Forever, 1990, brass plaque (one of 14), 7 1/8" x 12". Collection of the University of Winnipeg Students Association and University of Winnipeg.

For the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in December of 2018, Gallery 1C03’s curatorial intern Breanna Waterman presented a public talk at the University about Lin Gibson’s multi-site artwork Murdered by Misogyny: Forever. On December 6, 1990, Gibson installed fourteen brass plaques in public spaces throughout Winnipeg to memorialize and honour each of the fourteen women who were murdered in an act of brutal misogynistic violence exactly one year earlier at l’Ecole Polytechnique in Montréal, and to speak out against gender-based violence. One of the plaques that makes up this installation is permanently displayed on the east wall of Gallery 1C03 at The University of Winnipeg. Following is an edited transcript from Waterman’s public talk.

On December 6, 1989, fourteen women lost their lives in an act of misogyny when Marc Lepine opened fire at l’Ecole Polytechnique in Montréal. Lepine entered a classroom, asked the men to leave, and proceeded to tell the women that he was going to kill them because he believed they were all feminists and he was “fighting feminism”. He proceeded to do the same in another classroom, a stairwell, and a cafeteria. In total, Lepine shot 28 people and killed 14 women. Twelve of these women were engineering students, one was a nursing student, and one was a staff member at the university. The 14 women murdered were:

Geneviève Bergeron
Hélène Colgan
Nathalie Croteau
Barbara Daigneault
Anne-Marie Edward
Maud Haviernick
Maryse Laganière
Maryse Leclair
Anne-Marie Lemay
Sonia Pelletier
Michèle Richard
Annie St-Arneault
Annie Turcotte
Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz

The shock of this direct act of violence against women and reaction against feminism sparked outrage across the country, and many people responded in solidarity with support and memorials. Lin Gibson was one of these people, dedicating a year of her art production to memorializing these fourteen women and publicly standing up against misogyny.

Lin Gibson is a Toronto-based feminist editor, writer, and artist who lived in Winnipeg for many years. She attended the University of Manitoba, was a founding member of Winnipeg’s Women’s Liberation Group in 1969, and was the first director of Osborne House, a local women’s shelter. Murdered by Misogyny is a series of four works of art by Gibson, each with a different subtitle, presented in public locations across Canada.

Gibson’s first piece, Murdered by Misogyny: Ces Noms, was a vinyl lettering installation displayed on the street-front window of a downtown Toronto bookstore in March of 1990. The installation featured the words “Murdered by Misogyny” in between two lists of names: on one side, in capital lettering, were the names of the fourteen women killed on December 6, 1989; on the other side, in lowercase, were the names of Gibson and thirteen other living women who publicly identified as feminists. Below the second set of names, Gibson added the words “guilty as charged.” A vase with fourteen fresh cut flowers and the poem “Ces Noms” were shown alongside the window lettering.

Ces Noms was soon followed by Gibson’s second piece in the series, Here in Black and White, a text spread of these same 28 names published in the spring 1990 issue of the nationally-distributed contemporary art publication C Magazine.

Gibson’s third installation, Murdered by Misogyny: These Shining Golden Names, was shown at Anna Leonowens Gallery in Halifax in 1990 as part of a three woman exhibition titled Backtalk, and centred around the theme of violence against women. These Shining Golden Names featured the names of the fourteen murdered women and Gibson’s poem “Ces Noms,” this time presented in gilded lettering.

Murdered by Misogyny: Forever was Gibson’s Winnipeg installation. It featured fourteen brass plaques, each engraved with the words “In Memory of,” the name of one of the fourteen women, and the phrase “Murdered by Misogyny December 6th, 1989, Montréal.” The plaques were displayed in fourteen different public locations across the city. In some locations the inscription was written in French. In addition to the plaque for Nathalie Croteau displayed at The University of Winnipeg, one plaque for each of the other thirteen women was installed at the following places: University of Manitoba Faculty of Engineering, Centre Culturel Franco-Manitobain, Klinic, Women’s Health Clinic, Manitoba Union Centre, Artspace, Augustine United Church, City Hall, West End Cultural Centre, Manitoba Legislative Building, Manitoba Museum, Plug-In Institute of Contemporary Art, and the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

Gibson specifically selected these locations because they represented a broad spectrum of societal functions — spaces dedicated to education, culture, health care, religion, government -- thus amplifying the message of her art. At the University of Manitoba, for example, the plaque was displayed directly outside of the Dean’s office, demonstrating that office’s agreement with the message that these women were indeed murdered by misogyny. At the Augustine United Church, the plaque was displayed in a sacred space designed for silent reflection.

The plaques were installed on December 6th, 1990 and were to remain on display for one year. Following the year, the plaque exhibited at The University of Winnipeg was purchased by the University in partnership with the University of Winnipeg’s Student Association with a donation to Osborne House. It has been shown on campus since then, thus honouring the artist’s wish for the work to be a permanent marker.

Murdered by Misogyny: Forever is a conceptual artwork that emphasizes the importance of remembering the names of these women and the emotions attached to their deaths, over the aesthetic pleasure of the artwork. Gibson deliberately chose the plaque – a medium conventionally used to memorialize “great men” of history – to inscribe these women’s names. Even the Roman typeface was important to the artist because of its implication in the patriarchal preservation of history and because of its conformity to grave commemorative events. The traditional and official format of the plaques and their very public locations ensure the visibility of these women’s names and the reason they died. The permanent nature of the plaque also inscribes upon the viewing public a reminder of our responsibility to stand up against gender-based violence.

Sources

Yeo, Marion. “Murdered by Misogyny: Lin Gibson’s Response to the Montreal Massacre.” Canadian Woman Studies. Volume 12, no. 1 (1991): 8-11.

Yeo, Marion. “Lin Gibson: Winnipeg, 1990-1991.” M5V Magazine. (c.1991): 55-57.

Email communication with Lin Gibson. November 22, 2018.