From 17 June to 6 July

With this exhibition we want to question stereotypes of femininity and investigate how illustrations of fictional rebel girls contribute to identification and identity formation processes.

This exhibition examines the rebel girls of children’s literature through their representation in illustrated books: Matilda, Pippi, Otje, Ronja, Madeline, Floddertje, Sophie, Momo, Mildred Hubble, Mafalda and many more. Whether physically strong, free-thinking, or unruly, it explores what being a rebellious girl means for the young adults of today and how illustrated characters contributed to this image. We also want to investigate if such characters impacted on the identity building process of that generation.

The exhibition is an experiment in participatory practice: we aim to collect and share stories. We decided to focus for the exhibition on a specific sample of young adults born in the 1990s. This allows us to cover a more international range of characters, as well as giving us more opportunities for in-depth discussions, as the memories of the impact of these characters are relatively recent. We collected stories broadly first through an online form asking participants what their favourite rebellious illustrated character was/is and to try to explain how they relate to that character. We then conducted and recorded in depth audio interviews (in English & Dutch) with selected individuals. The individuals were selected for the interest of their story, their broad appeal/ representativity, but also to insure the representation of a variety of characters/impact/identities. Having a limited space and timeframe, we do not aim to be exhaustive in the various forms of feminine rebellion representation. This participatory approach allows us to gain a snapshot of this generation of readers and their relationship to illustrated rebellious characters. This approach also fosters personal engagement and reflexivity from the public with the topic at hand.

Ultimately the exhibition aims for the public to ask themselves if the books they show to and read with their children reflects their own set of values when it comes to female representation/ identity formation and reflect on how they themselves have been influenced by such illustrated characters.

Exhibition team:

Emilie Sitzia
Catherine Buckland (MA student UvA)
Christine Lai (MA student UvA)
Izanna Mulder (MA student UvA)
Emma Yandle (MA student UvA)

With support from:

Student volunteers (UvA & Maastricht University)
The Astrid Lindgren Company
Bullitt Identity
Bijzondere Collecties
Fiep Westendorp foundation


Bijzondere Collecties
Oude Turfmarkt 129
1012 GC Amsterdam