The topical idea of Feminism/ FEMME FOR ALL

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Last week there was a show Welcome Home curated by Sofia Arreguin and Valerie Shusterov held at CalArts in honor of the 40th Anniversary of Womanhouse —the 1971 groundbreaking art installation and performance space curated by Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro, co-founders of CalArts’ Feminist Art Program.

Welcome Home is a group show representing over 30 female artists with works of different media coming together to voice the modern feminist perspective. - Sofia and Valerie.

Some of us had a discomfort with the concept of it being an only woman show. And put a parallel/ complimentary show titled Femme For All (at CalArts), which was put together in an open call for discussion on feminism through art. A collective and collaborative show displaying various voices and positions in an open dialogue about current feminist issues.

I believe when ideas are re-created in a different time and an evolved community, their place needs to be understood in the community then (period they were created in), and a similar experience needs to be shared now (in the time and society you are re-generating the experience). Also, while I went through the Welcome Home show, there was a high heterosexual energy that the show generated. And also a singular structure of power. While the Femme For All show was more fluid, and topical.

A critique which could be put in this situation, I sited while re-reading the preface of Gender Trouble by Judith Butler.

It was and remains my view that any feminist theory that restricts the meaning of gender in the presuppositions of its own practice sets up exclusionary gender norms within feminism, often with homophobic consequences. It seemed to me, and continues to seem, that feminism ought to be careful not to idealize certain expressions of gender that, in turn, produce new forms of hierarchy and exclusion.

2 thoughts on “The topical idea of Feminism/ FEMME FOR ALL

  1. Welcome Home was an all womens show for a number of practical reasons. To begin with, there were more than enough women who wanted to be in the show, had work they felt was appropriate for the show, and felt passionate enough about WomanHouse, that if we had included men, there simply wouldn’t have been enough room to fit everyone. Secondly, what kind of world would we live in if all womens groups were protested every day? Why does an all womens group offend people so highly? How often have you walked into a museum or gallery and been to an all male show and not even thought twice about it. Gender exclusivity on behalf of men happens every day and nobody speaks a word about it. As soon as women get together, everybody gets all riled up. It’s not a bad thing– at least we get noticed. All I’m saying is, yes, of course… anybody can be a feminist, even men! But isn’t it somewhat regressive to be so offended every time women to get together and voice their opinion? There was no work in the show that was male-bashing. In fact, I believe the fact that it was exclusive made the show stronger- and the work better.
    I have rarely seen work by men dealing with feminist issues coming out of CalArts- whether they’re gay or not. I’ve taken quite a few classes dealing with feminist issues at CalArts- and only one guy who was ever in any of them. So, I don’t feel so bad for excluding them.
    The point of the show was to honor and recognize the history and tradition of feminist art– in order to understand and deal with present issues. It was an homage to the past, and being the 40th anniversary, time to pay respects. I’m glad the conversation happened.

    • I don’t have any problem with an all women show. It’s the homage to an important event that saddens me. Like I said —
      “…when ideas are re-created in a different time and an evolved community, their place needs to be understood in the community then (period they were created in), and a similar experience needs to be shared now (in the time and society you are re-generating the experience in.”)

      It also depends on how the curator talks about the show, which is important. You can’t try selling your show based on having included only women in it (@ your comment: It’s not a bad thing– at least we get noticed.) You propose it as an homage, and later as a curatorial choice, at your desk, only include women… if you think that’s what fits it. But not announce that we are having a feminist show and only women can participate in it. Because then it creates this rumor that only women can be feminist i.e. not true. Feminism (like everything else) is something any one can relate or talk about, regardless of their gender or sexuality (@ your comment: …I have rarely seen work by men dealing with feminist issues coming out of CalArts- whether they’re gay or not.) Many people at school are still learning… and them being aware of what their art is doing and not is a very situational thing. And a rumor forms a permanent function in a society over time. And I believe or at least hope that this isn’t what you wish to happen in understanding feminism to people who are around; also it’s a very dated position as a feminist. The world you and I were born into is more inclusive of who a feminist can be, or what feminism is about.
      And if you agree to what I just said, then it’s debatable that ideas of which of the two shows address the topical position of feminism.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s