Musings about Contemporary Feminism….

Despite the chronological leap posed by this article, the questions posed by the artists and art historians about Feminism and the practice of both these disciplines are quite in synch with our dialogue thus far.  I was also quite moved by these stories. The underlying assumption that the work of Feminism was finished by the late 80s and the power of the backlash that engendered (you’ll forgive the term) had a tremendous impact on several of these women.  I was particularly struck by what Amelia Jones had to say (enough talk! practice Feminism through your art damn it!). How could Feminism of the 70s and 80s be so clumsy in matters of color and class? (“Centers result from the creation of margins.”). Yet at the same time I almost wept when I read Helen Molesworth’s description of the legacy of that feminist movement on page 21, second paragraph. Okay, I have snide things to say as well.  I may have been too tired when I read Kaneda’s statement about her work, but really? Mira Schor’s questioning of her own work was, on the other hand, incredibly insightful and thoughtful in my opinion. Finally, I found Faith Wilding’s statement full of wonderful challenges for a proactive future of feminism.  Onward.

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4 responses

  1. I really enjoyed this article and found the format refreshing. Here are a few passages that really jumped out at me:

    Amelia Jones —
    “It’s as if we have theorized ourselves out on a limb and don’t know where to go next: now that we’ve identified and excoriated the male gaze, proposed various female gazes (not by any means necessarily heterosexually-, middle-class-, or Anglo-identified), and argued for the specificity of women’s experience in relation to visual culture, we seem to have all the answers but none of the intellectual humility that is required to move us to a new place.” (18) Now what?

    Mira Schor–
    “Do I have to continue to make painting, critique my period visible in order to be seen as representing feminism? Or can I punctuate one paragraph in my thinking and go on to the next, without betraying my political ideals? This is the familiar problematic of political art: to be perceived as feminist in a polemical, activist sense, does feminist practice, in art, teaching, and critical writing always have in some sense to be representational?” (24)

    Collier Schorr —
    “Part and parcel of the psychological burden of fighting a gender that most of those artists were wed to, I felt as though women never discussed each other, but rather, they defined themselves by the battle with men. 26

  2. I second Katherine’s feeling of “Now what?”

    I think these stories reaffirm many of the ideas we have previously discussed in class. For example, the idea of women being shown as the “Other” applies to these women’s accounts of their artwork being shown in galleries.

    The idea of qualification’- a feminist beat artist- reaffirms essentialist ideas.

    The idea of a lack of hierarchy in these women’s organizations raises many questions for me: Is the idea of a hierarchy a male convention? If women were in power instead of men then would hierarchies exist? The problem with these ideas are that they rely on essentialist assumptions about women. Can one generalize without essentializing?

    I found it interesting that all these women have different definitions of feminism and how it applies to their lives.

    The idea of sisterhood is complicated, especially with cybertheory. In discussing the male/female gaze I find it to be very binary. Does a queer gaze exist? Is “the gaze” not gendered? or is it understood to be a male gaze? Is there a black gaze versus a white gaze? I would like to talk about this.

    I think discussions of the body are also interesting. However I do not think I totally understand the argument that discourages the use of the body in art. I would like to hear the class’ opinion about this.

    I am happy to be reading accounts of women artists by women artists, who clearly have strong voices.

  3. Here are a few of the questions I’ll bring up tomorrow…

    How did you feel about the format? Did you appreciate the multiple voices or would you prefer one clear message?

    What did you think of the questions asked for the interview (p 8)? Is there anything you’d like to add? Anything you would change/delete?

    Did you identify with any one woman or story?

  4. I, too, thought this was an enlightening and exciting article. One quote that really stuck with me was “it took that long for me to sort out the difference between the concept of being an woman artist (in which gender had a determining role) and feminist art practice (in which gendered identity becomes a political position within patriarchal structures of power).

    I also thought it was interesting that a “sense of humor” was emphasized multiple times. What are the implications of this? I understand the artists point, however, I would like to discuss this.

    It was shocking to me that women do “two-thirds of the world’s work and earn about one-tenth of its income…”!!! I have never heard this statistic and wonder how it has changed over time.

    There is so much to discuss with a paper like this and I cannot wait to delve deeper!!! Much of the article discussed the changes that took place in the artist’s work and thought process as they grew to understand the importance of feminism. I think it would be interesting to see how members of this class have changed (if at all) upon introduction to feminist thought and women’s studies.

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