Tag Archives: Catherine Long

Feminist Practices in Dialogue

Practice in Dialogue is a research group of feminist artists dedicated to examining the formal structures and strategies of historical feminist art alongside their own art practices. Founded in May 2014 by AHRC supported CCW PhD researcher Catherine Long in collaboration with Rose Gibbs, Practice in Dialogue evolved out of a need to create a space in which to think critically about feminist art practices. Participating artists are: Miriam Austin, Alison Ballance and Abigail Smith, Ingrid Berthon-Moine, Cécile Emmanuelle Borra, Rose Gibbs, Lora Hristova, Catherine Long, Ope Lori, Lauren Schnieder and Nicola Thomas.

Practice in Dialogue will be launching their first publication on 18 December 2015 at the ICA alongside their event Feminist Practices in Dialogue: an afternoon showing of work including video installations, performances, sound pieces and sculpture followed by We Are Anti-Capiphallism, a discussion on the challenges facing contemporary feminism chaired by Helena Rickett. Supported by the CCW Graduate School Student Initiative Fund, the publication will feature contributions by the participating artists as well as essays by Catherine Long and Rose Gibbs.

Long_orange_publication_cover compressed

Feminist Practices in Dialogue cover. Image credit: Alison Ballance, 2015

The group aims to create a space where artists can talk and think critically about the current challenges to feminism in a climate where the backlash against it combines with neoliberalism to reduce the political agenda of feminism to a set of fragmented rights and personal choices that neatly dovetail with capitalism. In this environment, behaviours are divorced from the gendered circumstances within which they have been generated and are recast as feminist. Here feminism becomes about infiltration of the very structures that are responsible for women’s subordination in the first place, rather than a practice that seeks to circumnavigate them and create alternatives.

The exhibition and discussion at the ICA will foreground the importance of art and feminism as lived practices that have the potential to unsettle hegemonic patriarchal structures. Avoiding the pitfalls of dominant heteronormative culture is not easy and, as such, the emphasis of the event will be on feminist art practices as an ongoing work-in-progress that calls for continual self-reflection and critical analysis. The day will explore the methods by which feminist artworks contest the status quo and resist recuperation by the dominant patriarchal system. The artworks and discussion are an invitation to gauge how the artists involved with Practice in Dialogue have responded to contemporary issues while offering the possibility for a thorough and interrogative conversation, which is essential if feminism is to retain its potency.

Catherine Long’s own doctoral research focuses on video art practice and its potential as a radical tool for deconstructing mainstream images of femininity as well as reconstructing and developing progressive representations of female subjectivities. Through re-examining critical feminist video artworks of the 1970s and 1980s, Long has been investigating the ways in which women artists have historically challenged the dominant economy of representation. The camera apparatus allowed women to control the production of their own image, articulate their subjective experiences and directly address the spectator. Underpinned by the radical principle that ‘the personal is political’, feminist art practice utilised consciousness-raising as both a formal strategy and a means of generating content in order to speak to other women and inspire political activism.

Amidst a resurgence of feminism, Long’s video practice explores how artistic strategies used in the second wave feminist era can still provoke and undermine the status quo of gender representations, proposing new possibilities of female identities. Drawing upon strategies of performance to camera, direct address and narrative, her practice explores the dialectics of representation and criticality in relation to themes of internalisation, anxiety and body image.

The publication will be on sale in the ICA’s bookshop from 18 December 2015.

Top image: Untitled Leytonstone 2005, Rose Gibbs

A Feminist Dialogue with the Camera: an Exhibition of Work by Catherine Long

A feminist Dialogue with the Camera, a one day exhibition of works by Catherine Long, was held in the Cookhouse gallery at Chelsea College of Arts on the 1st April 2015. Featuring video and installation works from Long’s practice-based PhD research, the exhibition was concerned with the conditions of female representation on screen in a contemporary Western context. As part of the exhibition Long, with artist and activist Rose Gibbs, held a discussion on feminist art practices for an invited audience.

Long’s research focuses on video art practice and its potential as a radical tool for deconstructing dominant mainstream images of femininity, as well as reconstructing and developing progressive representations of female subjectivities. Through re-examining critical feminist video artworks of the 1970s and 1980s, Long has been investigating the ways in which women artists have historically challenged the dominant economy of representation. The camera apparatus allowed women to control the production of their own image, articulate their subjective experiences and directly address the spectator. Underpinned by the radical principle that ‘the personal is political’, feminist art practice utilised consciousness-raising as both a formal strategy and a means of generating content in order to speak to other women and inspire political activism.

Amidst a resurgence of feminism, Long’s video practice explores how artistic strategies used in the second wave feminist era can still provoke and undermine the status quo of gender representations, proposing new possibilities of female identities. Drawing upon strategies of performance to camera, direct address and narrative, her practice explores the dialectics of representation and criticality in relation to themes of internalisation, anxiety and body image.

Feminist Dialogue on the day

Image credit: Jude Long, 2015

Top image: Meat Abstracted, Catherine Long, single channel video, 2014-15

Self-organisation and Sewing: Differently Screening with Critical Practice

Members of Critical Practice have been meeting regularly in CCW Graduate School to cut, stitch, sew and assemble a unique Banner of Values. The banner began its construction as part of Critical Practice’s Differently Screening series, which is contributing to the cluster’s ongoing research into the production, performance and propagation of both value and values.

The first Differently Screening took place on 24 May 2014 at the Bread and Rosespub in North Clapham, where a Battersea and Wandsworth Trade Union banner hangs above the pool table. The pub is named after a poem written for the 1912 mill workers strike in Massachusetts where women demanded fair pay, or ‘bread’, but also the ‘roses’ of fair treatment and care as well, a protest that led to landmark labour reforms.

This acted as a productive site for our screening of The Women of Brukman, a documentary showing the struggle of a cooperative of predominantly female textile workers in Buenos Aires. During Argentina’s financial crisis, the owners of a suit business abandoned their factory, leaving machinists and others without pay. The women began to self-organise and in this process became aware of their meager salaries in relation to business’ profit for the first time. Despite police raids and the Brukman brothers returning, claiming their right to the factory, the textile workers persisted, forming the 18 de Diciembre cooperative that still runs the business to this day. It is an inspirational story, which has motivated other factories in the same commercial area of Buenos Aires to form similar cooperatives.

During the screening, to the click-cluncking sounds of the Brukman factory’s industrial sewing machines, participants set to work, selecting and cutting words to create the Banner of Values. Those present were invited to consider their personal values in relation to the film, and fabric letters emerged calling for ‘emapthy’, ‘severance’ and ‘security’. An initial discussion before the screening revealed how difficult it can be to talk about personal values in an unknown group. Terms such as ‘equality’ and ‘truth’ ring as too cliched, too trite, to a contemporary ear, having been appropriated by the language of commodification. Yet these words were taken up and reclaimed during the sewing process. The active screening seemed to lend itself to a non-prescriptive approach to spectatorship, with some avidly following the subtitles, some removing themselves from the screening area to concentrate on their stitching and others deciding to work together, voting on ‘collaboration’ as their value.

The screening and banner were devised and organised by CCW PhD students Amy McDonnell and Catherine Long. McDonnell’s own research investigates the space of the social in relation to artists group practices. She has carried out much of her research in Cuba, exploring reasons for forming artists’ collectives in a collectivised society. It has been beneficial to her curatorial research to explore the functioning of groups through shared activity. Sewing together seemed to produce a reflective, non-hierarchical space in which individuals are focused on the task at hand, making interaction less intense, more at ease, in which personal memories, confessions and teasing surface.

With one more sewing session and to go, as one Critical Practice member cannily realised, the banner only lacks ‘integrity’. Then it will be ready to parade.

There are two more screenings planned as part of the Differently Screening series which will take place in public space in the Autumn. In a continued commitment to seeking communities of values, the organisers will be thinking through ‘cycling and sustainability’ as well as ‘financial sustainability and artists’ payment’.

Metod Blejec and Marsha Bradfield, as well as Blanca Regina have documented some of the sewing sessions.

Inspiration Examined

Led by Dr Linda Sandino, CCW/V&A Senior Research Fellow, and Zoe Hendon, Head of Museum Collections, Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture (MoDA), Inspiration Examined enlisted Chelsea MA Textile students to be actively involved in the creation of research that studies how ‘inspiration’ gained through engagement with museum collections is articulated. The project provides a potential methodology for engagement with design collections using narrative research methods. Intended outcomes are academic papers and presentations (one booked for 30 Sept  in the V&A Research department) and a microsite on the MoDA website.  The project ends December 2014.

Inspiration Examined includes funding for two research assistants: CCW PhD students Maria Georgaki and Catherine Long.  Catherine provided video filming and editing expertise gained on an AHRC funded documentary film making course. Maria, whose research is on the ILEA (Inner London Education Authority) collection of design and craft (1951-1976) stored at Camberwell, worked on the verbatim transcriptions from the video and audio interviews.

Inspiration Examined is supported by Share Academy, a partnership project between University College London, University of the Arts London, and London Museums Group – funded by Arts Council England (ACE). It aims to develop and foster relationships between specialist London museums and academics.