Declaration of Sentiments: Wesleyan Chapel
2015 | Leah Shafer
Declaration of Sentiments: Wesleyan Chapel is the third in a series of videos by Shafer that explore the Declaration of Sentiments (1848), which announced a movement for the civil, social, political, and religious rights of women in the United States.
Authored primarily by Elizabeth Cady Stanton after the U.S. Declaration of Independence (1776), the document was signed by 68 women and 32 men at the Seneca Falls Convention, which is now considered the first women’s right convention in the United States.
The video is an experimental documentary in which a diverse group of voices speak the words of the Declaration of Sentiments in the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls (New York), where the Declaration was first read, to explore presences and absences of agency within historical spaces through fragments, repetitions, decentering, and collage.
The project is particularly provocative in light of the erosion of women’s rights alongside the possibility of the first female U.S. president during the first decades of the twenty-first century.
Leah Shafer (United States) is an Assistant Professor in the Media and Society Program at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, where she also is also a member of the Women’s Studies and Theatre Departments. Videos from her ongoing Declaration of Sentiments project have been screened as installations at the Gould Hotel and the Women’s Rights National Historical Park, both in Seneca Falls, New York. This iteration of the project embraces feminist visual praxis through fragments, decentering, and repetition.