Tag Archives: feminism

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.

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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

Stories That Matter: Feminist Methodologies in the Archive

This symposium at the ICA on 22 November at 2pm explores whether feminist methodologies make a difference to the kinds of stories that can be told using archives in the expanded sense, i.e. actual archives, virtual archives and/or other concrete sites of encounter which generate historiographical work.

In this work, a tension has often existed between the desire to establish feminist epistemologies and at the same time to attend to feminist ontologies – in other words between knowledge and experience. This is nowhere more so than in the archive which has traditionally been considered as a repository of the past that affords a ‘true’construction of it. However, this traditional idea has also been the basis from which women have been occluded from history. Added to this, it also maintains the subjectivity of the researcher/historiographer as neutral thereby hiding the ideological assumptions that underlie this kind of work.

The symposium follows feminist interrogation of these assumptions by adopting Donna Haraway’s methodological approach to research as ‘situated knowledge’. Leading practitioners of feminist historiography from both art history, Prof. Griselda Pollock, and the social sciences, Prof. Clare Hemmings and Prof. Maria Tamboukou, will present how their particular feminist methodologies have made a difference to their mutually respective sites of ‘archival’ encounter. Essential to the convening of this symposium has been Pollock’s concept of the virtual feminist museum as a ‘becoming futurity’, Hemmings’s emphasis on citational practices and textual affect, Tamboukou’s concept of archival research as intra-actions between phenomena. The speakers ask what differences these new affordances allow for accounting for the past or reactivating its memory in the present? How do feminist pasts engage future readers? An unlikely feminist, Guy Debord, in his infamous Society of the Spectacle posits the question: what would a living archive be as opposed to the archive as the custodian of the dead time of history which merely administers it rather than makes it available for use? Do feminist methodologies in the archive (as museum, publication, or documented record) provide methods for resisting the administration of history? How might we ‘break open’ the archive to listen to and disseminate its contradictory voices so that they may resonate with the present thereby making it available for use for contemporary generations of feminists, men and women?

The full programme and link to book tickets can be found on the ICA website.

This symposium marks the publication of the anthology Twenty Years of MAKE Magazine: Back to the Future of Women’s Art edited by Maria Walsh (Senior Lecturer in Art History and Theory, Chelsea) and Mo Throp (Associate Researcher, CCW), published by I.B. Tauris, which will be launched at the end of the day. The symposium will also include a presentation by Walsh and Throp on their research and it will be chaired by Dr. Catherine Grant, whose work on queer re-enactment addresses the retelling of the past for future generations. The symposium is funded by The CCW Graduate School Staff Fund.

 

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