|Feminage. The logic of feminist collage — 2 August to 15 Sept 2012|
2 August to 15 September 2012
Feminage Roundtable: Saturday 1 September at 3pm. Chaired by Jo Holder with Catriona Moore, Deborah Kelly, Virginia Fraser and Jacqueline Millner
Feminage. The logic of feminist collage
Feminage frames collage as one aspect of the diverse legacy of feminist art practice. In the 1970s, informed by feminism, gay rights and conceptual art, women artists created a logic of collage, together with a feminine subjectivity composed from alien forms, the domestic and child's-play associations. Collage’s dynamic, chimerical logic of fragmentation and suture continues to open new angles on sexual, post-colonial and cultural identities.
The small, often violent encounters of family life, work, immigration, welfare and religion, demanded a more nuanced form of collage, a process of cutting-and-pasting together of new forms of identity, new social competencies, and alternative ways of being in the world. Feminist collagists took up the radical lessons of Hannah Höch, boldly presented in the late 1920s to the mid-1930s to examine the equivocal status of women in Germany, and reinvented the everyday in a social as well as purely aesthetic sense, summed up by Miriam Schapiro's art historical slogan 'feminage'. Catriona Moore observed in her history of Australian feminist photography Indecent Exposures (1994), that: "The idea of woman as object (but not subject) of the media gaze is thus initially registered and destabilised by forgrounding the material grain of the medium itself." In this chapter of Feminage, paper itself is the matter — ground, split, flayed and then re-stitched.
The artists span the first and second-wave feminist art generations. Each considers images of or about women as a 'body politic' a site of resistance and deploy various conceptions of the self and its representation as 'sign'. Some, with great wit, use mock magazine spreads and adverts as an arch field of pornographic desire regulated by commercial interests (Do Prado, Kelly, MacDonald, Snaith); others use collage to paint a guerilla or monstrous feminine based on the ancient Sheela-na-gig figure (Dickens, Smart, Spero, Wyman); or apply techniques of detail and accumulation (Gower, Hunt, Iqbal) or the minimalism of silhouettes or cut-outs (Sandrasegar). All pay tribute to a feminist art historical lineage.
Feminage. Backstory and forwardstory
The Feminage exhibition is the first in a series of three annual exhibitions accompanied by three roundtables to guide a proposed new National Feminist Art Exhibition in March 2015. Much of feminist thinking was seemingly comfortably absorbed into the post-modern movement, yet in most democracies women artists only occupy 20 per cent of the walls of museums and galleries. (See n.paradoxa statistics page.) This lack of statistical redress extends to the institutional neglect of feminist thinking and aesthetics.
Two decades ago, art historian the late Joan Kerr (1938-2004) initiated a three-part women's art project using Australian Research Council funding. There were three main outcomes. The first, the thematic and collaborative compendium Heritage: The national women's art book, 500 works by 500 Australian women artists from colonial times to 1955, was launched on the 20th Anniversary of International Women's Year at the National Gallery of Australia. The National Women's Art Exhibition organised by Kerr and Jo Holder with more than 150 exhibitions of both historical and contemporary art by women envisaged as a "great imaginary exhibition", opened on the same day in 1995. Finally, Kerr and Holder edited Past Present: The national women's art anthology memorialising and critiquing the program with commissioned texts, extracts from catalogue essays and reviews. The National Feminist Art Exhibition in March 2015 will cover some of the decades of feminist art practice that followed.
Deborah Kelly, 'Whistling Woman and Crowing Hen, 2008-2012', performance reading 2011 http://www.myspace.com/crossartprojects
GOMA and Radio National, April 2012
Chair, Fenella Kernebone, ABC arts presenter with participants: Julie Ewington, writer, broadcaster, curatorial manager of Australian Art, Queensland Art Gallery and GOMA; Niki Kalms, academic, publisher, writer on contemporary architecture and urbanism; Justene Williams, artist and Jenny Kee, pioneering Australian Fashion designer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqsDzGJGjA4&noredirect=1
Chair, Natasha Mitchell, science journalist, ABC with participants: Cordelia Fine, Associate Professor, University of Melbourne Business School and author of Delusions of Gender - the real science behind sex differences. Christina Lee, Professor of Health and Psychology, University of Queensland; Editor-in-Chief, International Journal of Behavioural Medicine. Emily Maguire, novelist, author of the non-fiction Princesses and Pornsters, Sex, Power and Identity, and Your Skirt's Too Short. Amanda Third, Senior Lecturer, School of Humanities and Languages, University of Western Sydney; President of the Cultural Studies Assn. of Australia. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuOedEi2j1E
Chair, Sarah Kanowski with participants: Rebecca Huntley, research director of Ipsos Meltay Report; author of memoir, The Italian Girl (2011). Deborah Kelly, artist and activist working also in public and web-based art. Maura Reilly, Professor and Chair of Art Theory at Queensland College of Art, Griffith University; founder curator at the Brooklyn Museum's Sackler Centre for Feminist Art; author of Curatorial Activism and Ethical Responsibility (forthcoming). Judy Watson, artist and historian. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UqLuawMcNYo