North View Gallery

Sylvania CT 214 Building | Gallery Director: Mark Smith

Force For Change

Force for change
September 23 through October 25
Gallery Hours:
Monday through Friday: 8am – 4pm, Saturday: 12 noon - 4pm
Artist Gallery Talk:
Thursday, October 3 at 1pm
Opening Reception:
following Artist Talk, 2 to 3pm
Special Reception:
Saturday, October 5 from 2 to 4pm
Demonstrations and Workshops:
throughout October - check the schedule in the gallery or at Force for Change.

About the exhibition

Student pointing fake gun Students sparring

This exhibition is comprised of a series of photographic portraits of the women who are certified self defense instructors in the Portland area in the Indonesian martial art Poekoelan Tjimindie Tulen.  This particular martial art is led by a woman who started her training when she was only twelve years old.  The local schools are all led by women and unlike many martial arts, there are no weight classes or segregation of male to female sparring partners.  This form is fluid and whip-style and the self defense instruction places a strong emphasis on not only reaction time and forward force, but also addressing and dispelling the socialization and myths many grow up with concerning what it means to be feminine. 

The women who teach Tulen Self Defense are not all full-time self defense instructors. In fact, many of the women who have gone through the 2-3 year program of special training in addition to their personal path rising through ranks and experience in the martial art itself, have lives filled with careers, family and with other sports and hobbies in addition to their martial arts training. This exhibition is both a journey into my own investigation into the immense passion and drive that drives these women to add one more thing to their lives and a personal exploration as I train and teach with them and constantly amazed by the compassion and bodacious-ness that surrounds me. None of these women who train and teach are alike - they all move differently, all fight differently and are all here training because of different reasons. Wherever they have come from, Tulen self defense has drawn them in and united them in a way that they are sisters for this cause.

With very few exceptions, each one of these women do not look 'the part'. They are women of all different sizes, ages, and physiques. Through this series I intend to engage the public in a dialog - not just about what victims and heroes in general should look like - but also about the more taboo and difficult conversations around assault and abuse; domestic, intimate and otherwise.

These images - images of the women in their gi’s in their schools paired with images of them as they are as they move through their lives - at home, with kids, family, pets, at work - at play.  As women, we so often are defined by 'types' rather than by the overwhelmingly complex recipe of identities that exist all at the same time and rotate as needed. Like Cindy Sherman's Film Stills, I am driven by what I see as a limited and constricting sense of what women who are not “victims” look like, who they are and what they do. By gathering these images and these women’s stories and by engaging in a public manner - though these images and this exhibition - my hope is to counter the messages and images we as a community have received.

- Kim Manchester