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Rethinking the Subject: Feminism and Creative Practice LECTURE TWO Writing the female subject: Feminist Strategies in Retrospect and Context Alexandra.

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Presentation on theme: "Rethinking the Subject: Feminism and Creative Practice LECTURE TWO Writing the female subject: Feminist Strategies in Retrospect and Context Alexandra."— Presentation transcript:

1 Rethinking the Subject: Feminism and Creative Practice LECTURE TWO Writing the female subject: Feminist Strategies in Retrospect and Context Alexandra Kokoli

2 Current & Forthcoming Exhibitions in Aberdeen PEACOCK VISUAL ARTS David Rushton, Memory Maps (23 Feb-5 April) This exhibition by David Rushton includes meticulous model interiors of an artist's workplace; the artist's studios, gallery, conceptual art museum, factory and classroom. A founder member of the Analytical Art Group in the 1960s and later a member of Art & Language, Rushton explores the cultural and material conditions of working in art as an unfinished ongoing narrative. Rushton was also artist-in- residence in Tillydrone between July and December THE FOYER GALLERY Maria Vuorinen, that you would love me (28 Jan-15 March) I am asking private questions in public. Despite displaying my work in public it is thus still aiming at a most private communication. […] My work is reflecting a universal theme, love, and yet it is my reflection about silent, one-sided – at times even undirected – but eventually self-destructive love where gender both does and does not play a part.

3 Your contributions so far Pollock, Griselda, The Politics of Theory (core reading for seminar one) also available on: pIC&pg=PA3&lpg=PA3&dq=the+politics pIC&pg=PA3&lpg=PA3&dq=the+politics NB: Core reading for seminar 3 (Alison Rowley, Plan: Large Woman or Large Canvas?) also available to download in full: 1&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=0_0&sig=0M_jj-qJz3b1V0KYcbPx1nuUFHc 1&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=0_0&sig=0M_jj-qJz3b1V0KYcbPx1nuUFHc The Feminist Future Symposium (MoMA, Jan. 2007) – 21 talks available to download! 1. go to itunes (download it for free if you don't already have it at: 2. go to itunes store - click on link found in left margin in itunes (must be online) 3. search for 'the feminist future' 4. click MoMA Symposia icon at ITtunesU 5. click 'the feminist future' tab and video selection will appear 6. select chosen video and watch or download for free The Guerrilla Girls website now unblocked

4 Peer-reviewed vs. non-peer-reviewed sources E.g. academic books, articles in academic journals Definition: vetted and approved as legitimate, valid and helpful contributions to an established field by a team of recognised experts E.g. postings on personal or open- access websites, blogs, Wikipedia Not necessarily useless, but should be used advisedly –Cross-reference –Use as source for further references

5 Feminism and Visual Culture Critique of popular visual culture (cinema, advertising) –Psychoanalytic and Marxist models and terms of analysis –The (gendered) gaze; fetishism Critique of art (& design) history and their methods (the canon, etc.) –Why have there been no great women artists? (Linda Nochlin) –firing the canon (Griselda Pollock) –Pollock and Parker, Old Mistresses (1981) –Challenging the modernist myth (R. Krauss) of originality Creative practice as critique –The focus of this lecture! All three connected, in theory (same principles) and practice (same people involved) [CRITIQUE = not the same as criticism, though usually critical; detailed analysis that aims to uncover the internal logic of the text/object in question, as well as examine the text/object itself]

6 Linda NOCHLIN Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists? (1971) What/who is great? –The modernist cult of originality (cf. Old Mistresses) –The gender bias of genius (ibid.) Women art students historically led towards minor genres of painting, such as portraiture, landscape and still life Female students of painting banned from attending life drawing sessions as late as the 1890s, to protect their virtue! –Life drawing = prerequisite for history painting, thus women confined to the minor genres

7 Artemisia Gentileschi ( ), L: Susanna and the Elders (1610) R: Judith Decapitating Holofernes (c. 1618)

8 Tintoretto, Susanna and the Elders (1555-6)

9 Artemisia Gentileschi: A Feminist Heroine (?) Tragic life story (see Kahlo too; also AGs contemporary Elisabetta Sirani) English translation of the trial transcripts in Mary D. Garrard, Artemisia Gentileschi : the image of the female hero in Italian baroque art (Princeton University Press, 1989) Griselda Pollock, The female hero and the making of a feminist canon: A Gs representations of Susanna and Judith, ch. 5 of Differencing the Canon, pp : on the dangers of biographism for women artists

10 Griselda Pollock, The female hero and the making of a feminist canon: A Gs representations of Susanna and Judith, p. 123 […] not about revenge. Yet it is about killing. But it is a metaphor, a representation in which the literalness of killing a man is displaced onto a mytheme wherein the action is necessary, politically justified, not personally motivated. There would be my difference. Not in her tragic biography, expressed in the violent scene of revenge on seducers and rapists. Judith could become a means to structure a desire for a certain kind of artistic identity, that of an active woman who can make art, make herself in that action of entering representation, a kind of killing that is not just in the representation of a kill […] AGs projection of her desire for agency in the world and a figuration of what that desire might be: the image gives it structure, allows it into articulation, into artistic discourse.

11 Gentileschi, La Pittura (Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting, 1630s); misattributed to Caravaggio until 1962 (Michael Levy, Burlington Magazine)

12 Other examples? Joan Borsa on Frida Kahlo (cf. last weeks core reading) On the persistence of biographism in ref. to Kahlo see: Joanne Heath, Women Artists, Feminism and the Museum: Beyond the Blockbuster Retrospective, in A. M. Kokoli (ed.), Feminism Reframed (CSP, 2008), pp Consider your interpretation of Maria Vuorinens show in light of these arguments

13 Feminist creative practice as critique Feminist practice vs. feminist practitioners (Griselda Pollock) – but: Rediscovery and validation of womens art = part of feminist agendas Creative practice connected to political movements and events (e.g. community art projects) Different kinds of feminist creative practice AND different classifications (partly overlapping but incommensurable)

14 Parker and Pollock, Fifteen years of feminist action: From practical strategies to strategic practices, Framing Feminism, pp There is […] a dialectic to be maintained within feminist art practices between the democratic and enabling activities which encourage more women to make art and exhibit it simply as women, and the specialised, theoretically developed feminist interventions in the official cultural sites and apparatuses. It should not be a matter of either/or, alternative or interventionism, populism or the mainstream. The history of the feminist art movement […] reveals a necessary relation and interchange between practical strategies and strategic practices. (p. 75)

15 Judith Barry & Sandy Flitterman, Textual Strategies: The Politics of Art Making, Screen, 21:2 (1980), reprinted in Parker & Pollock (eds.), Framing Feminism, pp A typology of 4 categories of womens art with corresponding strategies: Glorification of an essential female power A form of sub-cultural resistance Isolationist: separatist and apolitical Artistic activity as textual practice

16 Glorification of an essential female power Gina Pane (FRA, ) Azione Sentimentale, 1973 (a performance in three stanzas) Corporeality & pain The body as material bearer of the artists actions The body as screen upon which images and signs are projected Pain as (ritual) sacrifice A feminine cliché?

17 A form of sub-cultural resistance Judy Chicago et al., The Dinner Party, Redefining art to include crafts and previously neglected skills hidden history of female productivity Essentialist? An alternative tradition that fails to challenge the mainstream

18 Isolationist: separatist and apolitical Inclusive of both separatists (aiming to establish their own society) and those who deny that their work is embedded in a social context (just happen to be women) Separatist: [Arlene Raven] Terry Wolverton and the Lesbian Art Project (LA) An Oral Herstory of Lesbianism (1979). Collaborative performance project conceived and produced by Wolverton; ten-week series of workshops of consciousness-raising, role-playing and theatre games resulting into a series of dramatic scenes

19 Artistic activity as textual practice Mary Kelly, 3.806C [C is for Cake], Documentation VI: Prewriting Alphabet, Exergue and Diary (1978) The Post-Partum Document ( ) Creative practice evolves from a theoretical reflection on representations (p. 318) the image of women is not accepted as an already produced given, but is constructed in and through the work itself. meanings are socially constructed […] it is only through a critical understanding of representation and a re-presentation of women can occur. (p. 320)

20 Mary Kelly, The Post-Partum Document ( ) An examination of the process by which the child becomes a subject but also Of motherhood as one of the social and psychical processes by which femininity is produced 6 series of documentation each made up of identical panels, organised in the exact same way –Documentation I: Analysed Fecal Stains and Feeding Charts explores the first significant interaction between mother and child -- feeding and hygiene. Feeding chart printed onto (used!) nappy-liner –Documentation VI: Prewriting Alphabet, Exergue and Diary: three distinct representational registers which shadow each other in a mimicry of the Rosetta Stone. Prewriting Alphabet: childs attempts at forming letters; exergue: description of the circumstances of childs letter-writing; diary: description of the circumstances of MKs life as mother

21 L: 9 Feb 1974, 03: Not Homogeneous, Documentation I: Analysed Fecal Stains and Feeding Charts (1974) R: 3.806C [C is for Cake], Documentation VI: Prewriting Alphabet, Exergue and Diary (1978)

22 Why was the PPD controversial? Stained nappy liners Mixed minimalist and conceptualist strategies with domestic and motherly work Heavily reliant on post-structuralist psychoanalysis Alienating to other feminists? Must one know Lacan to get PPD? See the PPD Dossier in Framing Feminism

23 Feministo: The Womens Postal Art Event ( ) Mail art project and resulting installation Evolved out of a private communication (the correspondence between Kate Walker and Sally Gollop) Strategies developed out of consciousness- raising group Anti-hierarchical –Professional and non-professional artists, trained and untrained –All media and all genres, esp. domestic crafts

24 Sue Richardson, Babyface Sandwich, Butterfly Sandwich and Fly Sandwich. Portrait of the Artist as a Housewife, ICA, 1977; installation shot

25 Kate Walker, Keep Smiling Chocs (1975-7)

26 Kathy Nicholson, Packed Meat in the Fridge ( )

27 Kathy Nicholson, Salad with Woman ( )

28 Alexandra M. Kokoli, Undoing homeliness in feminist art: Feministo: Portrait of the Artist as a Housewife (1975-7), n.paradoxa: international feminist art journal, vol. 13: Domestic Politics (January 2004), pp Not simply empowering but deeply ambivalent. Phil Goodall: both celebrated the area of domestic creativity and womans world and exposed it for its paucity A sophisticated interrogation of the gendered construction of domesticity: what are the psychosocial implications of womans designation as home-maker? Making literal the uncanny – unhomely In Feministo, the home is transformed into a spatial metaphor for unhomeliness as experienced by women in the domestic sphere, but also for the state of not belonging in other realms (language, but also the highly invested space of the art gallery) for the sexual other.

29 SO: Different categories of feminist art or different kinds of (feminist) art criticism? Content or interpretation? Are (re)interpretations/alternative interpretations possible?

30 Seminar Task (2) Imagine that you are curating an exhibition with the title Feminism Reframed. You must choose 3 objects that you feel best exemplify the relationship between feminism and creative practice, but that also challenge rigid categorisations of feminist art (e.g. theoretically informed vs. celebratory). Which works would you choose? Why? Can you write a short label for each object and explain your reasons for why they have been chosen. You may wish to do this in small groups. Wack! website for images, podcasts, blogs:

31 1. Identify; 2. Look closely! Martha Rosler, Nature Girls (Jumping Janes). From the series: Body Beautiful, or Beauty Knows No Pain ( ). Photomontage

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