“Strategies for Contemporary Feminism”
Panel discussion with Mary Kelly, Catherine Lord, Andrea Fraser, and Elana Mann (moderator)
Exquisite Acts & Everyday Rebellions: CalArts Feminist Art Symposium
California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California
March 10, 2007
The panel “Strategies for Contemporary Feminism” began the day of feminist dialogue at Exquisite Acts and Everyday Rebellions: CalArts Feminist Art Symposium on March 10, 2007, in the Main Gallery of California Institute of the Arts. The panel included the artists Mary Kelly, Catherine Lord, Andrea Fraser, and moderator Elana Mann. The panelists focused on the history of feminist demands, the struggle over language and the terms of culture in contemporary feminist art practice, and lived experience in relation to the Feminist Art Movement and its successive generations. Mann framed the conversation by posing questions about the pragmatics of making a feminist art history, why feminism is still vital, and how to activate feminist critiques in art and social spheres.
Mary Kelly presented a talk entitled “3 Non-Strategic Observations for a Few Artists Whose Work is in Some Way Informed by Feminism.” Kelly spoke about the relevance of theory, the role of institutions, and the connectedness of generations. She discussed the debates among feminist artists in the 1980s about the relative roles of theory and lived experience. She also described the impossible desire to historicize the diversity of feminist art production, suggesting that the movement’s discontinuity is also its continuing source of relevance and power. Catherine Lord addressed the semantics of contemporary Feminist discourse and responded to criticisms of the major feminist art exhibitions that debuted in 2007, including WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution curated by Connie Butler at LA MOCA. Lord also spoke about her experience as a feminist working in academia, and how this role shapes her relationships with both her students and university administration. Andrea Fraser explored how her relationship with her mother, a Second Wave Feminist and struggling artist in the 1970s, influenced her artistic practice of site specificity, institutional critique. Through her projects like the collaborative performance group the V girls and the working group exhibition Services, Fraser confronts the aspirations of artists and art institutions by interrogating the very conditions of art production and presentation.
For a complete transcript of this panel discussion, please visit: exquisiteacts.org/symposium/strategies-for-contemporary-feminism-transcript.html
Mary Kelly’s theoretical writings and project-based art, from recent projects such as Flashing Nipple Happening (2007-8) to seminal works such as Post-Partum Document (1973 – 7), have contributed the core discourse of gender, sexuality, and identity formation in contemporary culture. She is currently a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles and has exhibited widely, including WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution (MOCA) and Documenta 12.
Catherine Lord is a writer, artist, and curator whose work addresses issues of feminism, cultural politics, and colonialism. She is currently a professor at University of California Irvine (UCI), teaching in the studio art and Women’s Studies departments and has exhibited widely. Lord has worked as the associate editor of AfterImage and written numerous critical essays and fiction, including the text/image experimental narrative The Summer of Her Baldness: A Cancer Improvisation (University of Texas Press, 2004).
Andrea Fraser’s work has been identified with performance, video, context art, and institutional critique. She has exhibited and performed all over the world and won many prestigious grants and awards for her provocative art practice. Fraser has also published her writings in such publications as Artforum, October, and Texte zur Kunst. Museum Highlights: The Writings of Andrea Fraser, was released by MIT Press in 2005. She is currently a visiting associate professor at UCLA.
Elana Mann creates artwork that investigates the struggle between communication and control in regards to gender, politics, and interpersonal relationships. She received her MFA in art from California Institute of the Arts and has exhibited nationally and internationally. Mann is currently a visiting professor at Scripps College and is co-chair of The Feminist Art Project’s day of panels at the 2012 College Art Association conference in Los Angeles. elanamann.com
Exquisite Acts & Everyday Rebellions: 2007 CalArts Feminist Art Project was a student-organized project that took place at California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California in March 2007. For more information, please visit: exquisiteacts.org.
Cameras - Adam Feldmeth, Nicholas Grider
Video Editor - Audrey Chan
Sound - Emery Martin