This is Part III of a series dedicated to
Contemporary Art & Feminism
Last Saturday Nona and I had the pleasure of attending a graduate student symposium curated by Woman Made Gallery in honor of the Feminist Art Project. We sat through hours of presentations, with paper topics ranging from 1970’s confessional video art, to the use of string and embroidery to represent femininity in visual practice, to the repercussions of the “L-Word” on lesbian stereotyping in the media. It was the first time I have been to such an intimate gathering of art history and feminism nerds, and not been the youngest member of the audience. Most of the gals presenting and listening (unfortunately there were few men in attendance) are daughters of the third wave, yet there was a sense of scholarship and dedication to second wave artists that should serve as a placating reminder to intergenerational worry worts.
The youngest panelist was my college friend Jadine, 23, (above, middle) who now works for Woman Made Gallery. She presented her brilliant thesis on the performance artist Orlan (which I workshopped on when we were fellow art history students). Jadine also was one of our first interviewees, back in April 2007. We caught up with her after the conference to see how her opinions on art and feminism have developed over the past year:
“Interning at Woman Made gallery has changed my viewpoint a lot. It’s easy theoretically for me to feel like that there is no need to essentialize female identity, that females that are doing good work should just emerge. But, I’m seeing that in the everyday market reality there is a need to assert an essentialist identity of women to just get them equal opportunities to display their work.”
Last weekend Jadine and I were both in attendance at a panel discussion on “post-black” artists, put on by the Renaissance Society museum. The structure of the post-black argument echoed that of contemporary post-feminist artists, women artists who don’t want their gender mapped onto their artworks. How this plays out when race and gender intersect was, astoundingly, never brought up. I asked Jadine: Can you be a post-black, post-feminist artist?
“Somehow art made by women has a lot more fudge room then art by black artists. Everyone doesn’t expect female artists to make art about feminist issues, but it seems very hard for a black female artist to make art that’s not read in terms of race.”