Women Artists in Asia: ‘Making History’ on Wikipedia with Asia Art Archive
From 8 March to 8 April 2018, Asia Art Archive and M+, West Kowloon Cultural District co-presented an “edit-a-thon” to improve the representation on Wikipedia of women artists in Asia. The main edit-a-thon event was held at Art Basel Hong Kong, but participants could also join in online. Below, we share the story behind the event and M+’s collaboration with Asia Art Archive, the edit-a-thon’s outcomes and results, and the resources we created to help participants start editing Wikipedia on their own!
For years, the art collective known as the Guerrilla Girls has been tracking the dismal representation of women in the global art world. This year, for the first time, the Guerrilla Girls conducted a study on the representation of women artists in the collections of Hong Kong art galleries and institutions, as part of their installation in the Asia Art Archive booth at Art Basel. As expected, the results pointed to a clear gender disparity: only 16% of the makers in the M+ Collections, for example, were female, and 6% of the Asia Art Archive archives belonged to women.
It’s no wonder that in the past few years, people around the world have been organising edit-a-thons focused on creating better representation of women artists on Wikipedia, the community-powered online encyclopedia whose editors are dominated by men. The best known example of these is Art+Feminism, an annual global campaign comprised of hundreds of self-organised gatherings in which participants add, edit, and translate Wikipedia articles about women artists.
In the first collaboration of its kind, M+ and Asia Art Archive this year co-presented a Wikipedia edit-a-thon on women artists in Asia, with the help of the Hong Kong Wikimedia User Group. The collaboration between Asia Art Archive and M+ came from the commitment of both organisations to address the gender imbalance in our own collections, and in the larger art infrastructure. Rather than simply focusing on women artists, the edit-a-thon focused more specifically on women artists in Asia—a group that is further underrepresented both in the art world and on Wikipedia, and an area in which our two institutions have particular expertise and resources.
The edit-a-thon was intended to contribute to a growing global community, and also be a community-building exercise. In the process of organising it, we learned from previous organisers of Wikipedia edit-a-thons on women artists, including in Hong Kong, and we are incredibly grateful to have been able to share these contributions and keep adding to their efforts.
Participants were given help and training to add, edit, or translate articles about women artists in Asia on Wikipedia. People were invited to participate either online from 8 March to 8 April, using an online dashboard, or in person at the main edit-a-thon event on 30 March in the Asia Art Archive booth in the public area of Art Basel. The main event, fittingly, took place in front of the large gorilla head in the Guerrilla Girls’ Women Make Art History exhibit in the booth!
Articles created: 14
Articles edited/translated: 27
Editors who took part: 27
Words added to Wikipedia: 30K+
A big thank you to everyone who participated and helped make all of the above happen! It was truly wonderful to see so many dedicated people come together both online and in person to help make a difference.
If this post has made you interested in trying your own hand at Wikipedia, great! It’s easy to get started. We created a short guide that participants could use to participate in the edit-a-thon from their own homes. Although this year’s edit-a-thon has ended, you can still find the guide here to help you get started. You can also take a look at a Powerpoint presentation we made on how to use Wikipedia.
Finally, you can find even more resources and help on the event’s online dashboard. Go forth and edit, and we hope to see you for next year’s edit-a-thon on women in art!
Image at top of post: The booklet created for the edit-a-thon. Photo © M+, Hong Kong