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Women Artists: Feminism In The 80s And Now

3 Jan

Symposium, Saturday 3rd December 2011

Goldsmiths University, Ben Pimlott Building.

[This symposium is a collaboration between The Women’s Art Library (MAKE) and Brixton Art Gallery Women Artists Group (BAG Women) to coincide with the Brixton Calling! exhibition at 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning (28th Oct-21st Dec 2012).]

I attended this symposium primarily as part of my research for my Major Critical Project which explores the work of a number of women artists working in 1980s Britain. This came at a time when I was feeling a bit worried as to whether I would have enough research to write the project. The purpose of the symposium was to bring a cross-generational audience (and speakers)  to examine the legacy in Britain that had been left by women artists in the 80s in the light of current feminist practices. It aimed to not only recall feminist practice in the 80s, but, to look in depth into their thinking, debates and campaigns and discuss their relevance today for a the new generations of women artists and feminists (which I identify myself as both an artist and a feminist).

For me, one of the reasons I decided to research into 80s feminist practices was due to the often contradictory debates that I have encountered (specifically at a feminist art lecture I attended at the ICA led by Katy Deepwell) as to whether the 80s have been forgotten in feminist history, with the 70s being the glory decade, or as to whether they have been parodied, re-enacted and emptied out of content or whether it has created ongoing tension between past and present generations of feminists. I simply do not have an extensive knowledge of the decade as I do of the 70s, where my influences lie. So for me, it was only natural that this be the topic for my MCP.

The running question we were met with both at the beginning and end of the day was:

Drawing from 80s feminist aesthetics, ethics and practice, how can we today develop a critical and relevant feminist art practice?

Towards the end of the day we convened in the lecture room and identified two of the re-occuring themes/topics of the day:

Body Politics (Performativity, identity formation, race, sexuality)

Public Sphere (Community engagement, education, places)

We broke off into smaller discussion groups with a key speaker into the following groups:

  • Body Politics/Aesthetics
  • Education
  • Public Sphere/Archives
  • Collectivity/Collaboration/Inter-generational resistance

(I decided to participate in the body politics/aesthetics group as it relates directly to my own practice.)

KEY QUESTION: Is there a feminist aesthetics today? If so what is it?

At first we asked ourselves “What is feminist art?” but then realised that it many of us do not have a clear answer and perhaps the reason why that is could be that we sometimes automatically assume that an art work is feminist due to the artist being feminist so the question here is “Is art feminist because the artist is feminist?”.

I guess you could say that there are particular attributes to ‘feminist’ art such as a consciousness of material or the use of a feminist sensibility but is it to our benefit to


Update on my time in Vienna

22 May

Since the last time I posted I had a visitor from London and I started my Performativity and Protest lectures amongst other things i.e. gallery visits, exhibitions, etc.

I will post tomorrow about my experience with the lecture and the content covered, for now I will mention how the lecture has started on a great note and that it’s a very theoretical class. We have been focusing on where artistic research stands within the art world and how politics and art can mix. But more about that tomorrow. So far I’ve enjoyed the classes and have found them to be feeding my enquiry into where my own research stands within my practice.

So my flat mate came to visit me in the first weeks of April which was great as I have been feeling a little home-sick and my personal life has changed so much out of this experience in Vienna. Whilst he was here we visited many galleries and explored the culinary delights of the diverse foods on offer in this beautiful city. We spent most of our lunches at the Naschtmarkt, one of Vienna’s tourist markets which is conveniently situated near the Akademie and Karlsplatz.

The galleries/museums we visited:

  • MUMoK (Aktionsraum 1, Direct Art, Florian Pumhösl, Abstract Space and Tacita Dean)
  • The Secession (Klimt-Beethoven Frieze, Inés Lombardi, Alfons Egger and Christoph Meier)
  • Kunsthalle Wien (Andro Wekua: Never sleep with a strawberry in your mouth, Weltraum: Die Kunst und Ein Traum)
  • WUK (A work That Can’t Shake Off What it Reflects)
  • Museum für Völkerkunde Wien/ The museum of Ethnology (The Culture of the Cultural Revolution)
  • The Albertina (Der Blaue Reiter, Monet to Picasso, Albertina contemporary and Lichtenstein)
  • MozartHaus
  • The Schoenberg centre

My favourites were definitely the Akionsraum 1 and Direct Art exhibitions at the MUMoK as a lot of the pieces in the shows are key influences linked to my practice (I will discuss these exhibitions in another post). In the UK it’s hard to find performance exhibitions and it is especially hard to see works by the Viennese Aktionists as they’re rarely displayed so it was great to actually see those works in front of me including lost works by the artists.

We wandered around a lot which is nice, You can walk around the city in a day or two, it’s not that big so it’s nice as you get to see more of the city and more of life in Vienna. We found a few vintage shops (there aren’t many by the way) and I found this amazing second hand store called Caritas which is like a cross between a big car boot sale and a charity shop, there are loads of  stalls where you can buy really cheap things such as furniture for as little as €3 (I found great quality leather suitcases from the 30s which were going for €5). There is also a fantastic flea market (Der Flohmarkt) on Saturdays at the Naschmarkt which is the biggest I have seen, reminds a lot of the Sunday flea market on Brick Lane but much bigger and with a variety of objects/things on offer (I found an amazing 1920s gramophone in excellent condition, it’s a shame it was so big otherwise I would have bought it and sent it over to London!).

There’s so much to see!!

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16 Mar

I’ve finally been given my student card, it took a while. I have also registered for classes and i’m hoping to attend some lectures over at the other universities.

My classes at the Akademie are:

  • Performative Art (my main course)
  • Curatorial studies
  • Performativity and Protest
  • Queers in Space (Architecture lecture)

And I’m on the waiting list for Performance and media techniques. There are some gender and sexuality lectures at the University of Vienna that I would like to attend so hopefully I’ll be able to sign up. I haven’t really been in my studio as I’ve been trying to work on my DAS essay which has been hard so far but now that I have my student card I’ve managed to take library books form the Akademie library which are in English.

Some photos of our studio:

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Until next time!


12 Mar

Just some experiments i’ve been working on with photography and “performativity”

Lost in the city again

11 Mar

Following up from my last post. Here are some photos from last Friday (4th March):

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Guten Tag Wien!

11 Mar

So it’s been a while since i’ve been on this.

Since the last time I posted, I have been to the Academie and registered. On Wednesday 2nd March I attended an erasmus welcome meeting which was nice. We had tea, drinks and cake and we were given the low-down on what to expect from the Academy and how to register and so on. It was a pretty relaxed meeting. I met a girl from Glasgow school of Art and two students who study at Central St Martins amongst others. Some of us went to a local cafe/bookstore and had lunch, it was a really nice little place not far from the university.  The Akademie itself is really nice, it’s almost like walking into the National Gallery with it’s marbled flooring in most of it’s hallways. It seems to be somewhat similar to the RA in that it also has a prestigious collection of old paintings which is open to the public. It also has an exhibition space where artists can apply to exhibit (although this system so I have been told is very limited to it’s students who tell me there is no actual exhibition space for students to exhibit).

Akademie Der Bildenden Kunste Wien

Akademie Der Bildenden Kunste Wien

Akademie Der Bildenden Kunste Wien

Apparently it is no longer an actual academy (well it’s not run like it used to be) and is now rather an art university. One of the fascinating things i’ve found so far is that on the course that you choose, say painting, your class is made up of students on different levels. Bachelor, Masters and Phd students are all in the same classes in their chosen fields which is fantastic. Your professor is the person who runs the course/subject that you have chosen to specialise in and the studios are used by everyone in that class. I’ve found out that you can study at the academy for as long as you want as you can decide when to graduate, there are people who have been studying there for 9 years! It’s crazy but then again I guess you get more out of your course and university life. Also there, students and professors treat each other on the same level and even exhibit along side each other which doesn’t really happen so much back in England and definitely not in the same way as they do here.

One of the annoying things i’ve encountered has been the time it takes for classes to start, it seems to be really laid back. I still haven’t registered for the classes or lectures yet as I still don’t have an ID card meaning that I can log in online to register for them yet (but it seems that I have until April to have signed up for everything). The registration process is slow but I have noticed so far that the Austrians are really laid back about things and don’t really worry so much.

On Monday (7th March) I had a class meeting and met my professor and peers.Before the meeting we all gathered in a room to attend a performance by one of the Diploma students (Diploma being the 1 year Masters) and we discussed the work. I didn’t really understand much of it as it was in German but the performance was based on the student’s job as a german teacher for asylum seekers. Everyone’s really nice and the studio is great (photos of that still to come). We have meetings every Monday and the rest of the days you go to your chosen lectures and seminar. We can come into the studios whenever we want, some people don’t come in as their work is site specific based. Oh also, funny think about Austria, they don’t really follow the smoking in public places ban like the rest of Europe. The students can smoke in their studios, well at least in my studios they are!!

Akademie Der Bildenden Kunste Wien/Schillerplatz

Schillerplatz (view from the Akademie)

Last Friday I spent some time at the Naschmarkt and getting lost in the city which was fun! I loved the market, it’s almost like Broadway market in East London although with a lot of cheese!!! There were so many shops/stalls selling cheese!! It’s also a very multicultural market with Chinese, Tibetan, Turkish and traditional Austrian restaurants and shops. I really enjoyed wandering around and seeing what everyone has to offer. Some photos from the market:


Lots and lots of cheese!

Sweetie van

Paris is Burning – Drag Realness

2 Mar

YouTube – Paris is Burning – Drag Realness.

This means nothing to me oohhhhhhh Vienna….

1 Mar

Listening to UltraVox’s “Vienna” song. I love 80’s music.

Any way, Sunday 27th Feb I flew here to this beautiful country that is Austria. As my flight was an evening flight, once I arrived there wasn’t much to see between arriving at the airport and arriving at the place I was staying as it was quite dark. Although the CAT train (that takes you from the airport to the city centre) was somewhat interesting as it was like getting on a double decker bus, only it was a train. I wasn’t able to take any photos of my arrival, It was hard carrying so much luggage…I like travelling but I hate the hustle bustle of it. Christina Geiger (who I’m house swapping with) has finally arrived at my place in London. I’m living with her sister Petra and a German girl named Katja. They’re all very nice and we’ve gotten along plus they have 3 cats so are sooo adorable!

Yesterday I went to do some food shopping down the road at the local supermarket Spar. It wasn’t too bad as I got around fine although the women at the cashier didn’t speak any English so it was funny. I went there again to buy some chocolate as she was like “oh it’s you again…i still don’t speak any english” and we laughed and I said “Guten Tag”. She was nice! So far I have been hanging around the house trying to do some work for the DAS essay so I haven’t ventured out yet. I’m staying in the 13th district which is near Heitzing. It’s like living in Wimbledon and studying in the city centre although travel is cheaper and not stressful! It’s about 30 mins to the Innere stadt (city centre), I get a bus down the road to Heitzing then on the U4 (underground) to Karlsplatz and it’s a 5-10 min walk to Schillerplatz where the Akademie is situated. Should be fun!! We don’t seem to start until some point next week, I haven’t been told when yet.

Tomorrow I have a welcome meeting for all the erasmus students at the Akademie at 11am. I’m still trying to adjust to the time difference, it’s only an hour ahead here but I keep thinking it’s the same time over in London every time I call my boyfriend. At the moment it’s ten to eight in the evening and it’s really dark! Also it’s been quite cold…around -2 degrees since i’ve been here but today at least it has been sunny.

Here are some of the photos i’ve taken so far:

The house number plate

The house where i'm staying

The view down on Hermesstrasse

View from down the road

A sign on someone's garage door. I think it says: No entry.

"School way"

On my trip down the road to the local supermarket

Shopping at the local supermarket

Sehr Gut! Offers on at Spar

Sehr Gut! Offers on at Spar

Jessica Lagunas, Art Work by Jessica Lagunas

28 Feb

Jessica Lagunas Para Acariciarte Mejor, 2003 Digital C-Prints (4 photos) 16 x 20 inches each, framed in Perspex frame, framed size: 42 x 52 inches Edition of 5

essica Lagunas Para Besarte Mejor (The Better to Kiss You With), 2005 Single-channel digital video 57 minutes, 37 seconds, edition of 5

Jessica Lagunas Para verte mejor (The Better to See You With), 2005 Single-channel digital video. Edition of 5 57 minutes, 37 seconds Photo Credit: Production stills from video-performance. Photo by Roni Mocán. Image courtesy of the artist and ROLLO Contemporary Art

Jessica Lagunas Retorno a al Pubertad (Return to Puberty), 2005 Single-channel digital video 58 minutes, Edition of 5


Contemporary Art Gallery, Women’s Art Exhibition, London – The Body in Women’s Art Now: Part 1 — Embodied Retorno a al Pubertad (Return to Puberty) by Jessica Lagunas

28 Feb


Contemporary Art Gallery, Women’s Art Exhibition, London – The Body in Women’s Art Now: Part 1 — Embodied Retorno a al Pubertad (Return to Puberty) by Jessica Lagunas.

So after having made my “Mons Pubis” video I discovered the artist Jessica Lagunas who made an identical performance video to mine. She is shown plucking her pubic hairs with tweezers.

It’s like a blow to the head, I can’t believe that I made an identical video to another artist without knowing about it. Maybe we read the same book about the Bakitara, I don’t know, maybe we just think alike. I was quite upset at first, it one thing to interpret someone’s art work and use it in your own work but another thing is to copy that work. I guess I was naive to think that no one had created anything like it but turns out I was a fool. But she is not an internationally known artist, she’s not a big name. I stumbled across her when a friend of mine said she was going to Rollo gallery to see an exhibition by a female performance artist Regina José Galindo. I had never heard of the gallery or the artist so I went on the website to see the exhibitions and saw a past exhibition that celebrated women’s art and Jessica Laguna’s work was presented in the show.

There are some differences between our videos, mine is very stylised in black & white and hints at fluxus and perhaps is more minimal so that what is clearly viewed is the action. It was meant to be minimal in order to focus on the act of plucking the hair rather than any theoretical or political ideal behind it. This artist’s video is shot in colour which means that you can see how brutal it is to pluck pubic hair, you get see her bleeding as the piece progresses, mine, as it’s black & white , dismisses the bleeding completely so the viewer’s experience is not affected by other emotions such as pity. Yes you can sense how painful it is and when I showed my piece in an exhibition at college people winched and had to look away but I think that had they seen the after effects such as the bleeding or scabbing then they would have focused more on that rather than the action taking place. I guess this is another way of referencing the fluxus movement with their happenings…this is my happening, my action.

I do like her work though, I need to look more into her.