Relating Narratives - A Common World of Women
This exhibition explores the way in which women look to other women - friends, sisters, mothers, writers, poets - to construct an alternative register within which to situate themselves and mediate their relationship with the world.
The works in the exhibition recall the practice of feminist groups in 1970s Italy where women sought to generate, en-gender and construct a symbolic community, a genealogy of women. They did this both through the friendships within the group as well as the reading and the re-reading of writings, thoughts, words and insights of other women. Many of these groups emerged out of the adult education courses provided by the state for factory workers and housewives who in many instances had left school very young.
The new friendships were set apart from the women’s work and domestic spheres: these groups gave them the freedom not to be defined in relation to their husbands, their children, but in relation to other women and their writing. This enabled the women to construct new frames of reference within which to define and situate their identities.
This exhibition draws together a number of artists whose practice takes on a similar task –that of representing the women in their worlds, that of building a common world of women. A public programme of talks, screenings and readings accompanies the exhibition and can be seen and in some cases watched here.
Artists:Barby Asante, Chila Kumari Burman, Rose Gibbs, Chantal Joffe, Claudette Johnson, Sisters of Jam, Marcia Michael, Kate Millett, Ishbel Myerscough, Rosalind Nashashibi, Yvonne Rainer, Rose Wylie, Nicole Wittenberg.
Read about the programme participants and the exhibiting artists here.
With support from The Arts Council England and The Horse Hospital, London, WC1N 1JD
In Whose Eyes?
‘The social systems that we have around us, require that we think not only about the relationships that sustain them but also how, day-by-day, they are reproduced.’ Stuart Hall
The act of looking is never neutral, where we look from shapes what we see. Who we are and who we think we are is a relationship with the world around us. With a focus on the constructed nature of identity, this exhibition thinks through the two way process of looking and investigate ideas around female subjectivity, representation and power. It considers the feedback loops that shape our behaviours, as well as the role that re-presentation has to play in countering dominant narratives.
Who is made visible – or excluded – and how they are represented in culture is highly political and impacts on people’s lives in numerous intersectional ways. The exhibition asks, how feminist art can intervene in dominant culture when the conditions of female representation are so overly determined by the constraints of objectification, sexualisation, violence and racism?
Miriam Austin | Ingrid Berthon-Moine | Cécile Emmanuelle Borra | Phoebe Collings-James | Rose Gibbs | Lora Hristova | Catherine Long | Ope Lori | Anja Olofgörs | Lauren Schneider | Martina Schmuecker | NT
“There is no such thing as a single issue struggle because we do not live single issue lives. Our struggles are particular but we are not alone” Audre Lorde
“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” Audre Lorde
Co-curated by Rose Gibbs and Catherine Long with Beaconsfield Vauxhall.
The struggle around visual representation is one that feminist artists have always been engaged with and which Rozsika Parker and Griselda Pollock highlighted in Framing Feminism: Art and the Women’s Movement 1970 – 1985 (1987). With keynote speakers Griselda Pollock will debate the current state of affairs with speakers including Sonia Boyce, Enam Gbewonyo, Rose Gibbs, Catherine Long and Ope Lori.A resurgence of feminism in the west and globally continues to gather momentum, accompanied by the realisation among young women that we have been sold a fabrication: that equality has been achieved thereby making feminism redundant. At the same time, capitalism has co-opted the language of feminism in the mainstream media and it can be argued that the backlash against feminism has taken on its most virulent form: behaviours and products that are all part of the capitalist arsenal are recast as feminist tools of ‘empowerment’ while the derivation of that power remains strikingly unexamined.Supported by Camberwell, Chelsea, Wimbledon Graduate School.
We all Have a Problem with Representation
Practice in Dialogue present an experimental evening of work-in-progress performances and video work interspersed with the opportunity for drinks and conversation. We all have a problem with representation looks at the difficulties of determining self-representation in a culture that continues to present the female body for the masculinised gaze. In differing ways, the artists explore the rejection of objecthood and the positioning of the self as a thinking being in today’s culture.
Curated by Rose Gibbs and Catherine Long.
The Showroom, 63 Penfold St, London NW8 8PQ, 17th November 2016, 6.30-9pmwww.theshowroom.org/
The Temporary Separatists a Swedish-British collective seeks to explore the use of collectivism as a feminist methodology in art practice. The Temporary Separatists propose to use the exhibition space as a site to explore collective making. They hope to consider, to learn by doing, if separatist collective spaces and modes of working can provide a feminist methodology that resists hierarchical and individualistic artistic practice. This exhibition will examine authorship, individualism, autonomy and gender and ask if separatist collective working can provide a space for a radical shift of focus away from the hegemony of an atomizing neoliberal ideology. This exhibition will explore these ideas through practice.
At Box they will turn the gallery into two mini-residencies first occupied by themselves, and then occupied by a second women’s artist collective, H. arta group from Romania, thus the authorship already questioned by the very notion of an artists collective, will be further challenged by the interactions between the works of the two collectives.
This will become an environment that attempts to address the ways in which the space is used and navigated through by both the artist collectives and the audience. It will offer the opportunity to reimagine the white cube gallery space as a place to occupy and to live within rather than survey and pass through. They will blur the boundaries between the traditional public space of the gallery and the private space of the studio/home.
See the programme of events here.
Gallery Box, Gothenburg, 2016
Feminist Practices In Dialogue
Co-curated by Rose Gibbs and Catherine Long, Feminist Practices in Dialogue is an exhibition and a programme of video works, performances, sound pieces and discussions on the challenges facing contemporary feminism
Practice in Dialogue aims to create a space where artists can talk and think critically about the current challenges to feminism in a climate where the backlash against it combines with neoliberalism to reduce the political agenda of feminism to a set of fragmented rights and personal choices that neatly dovetail with capitalism. In this environment, behaviours are divorced from the gendered circumstances within which they have been generated and are recast as feminist. Here feminism becomes about infiltration of the very structures that are responsible for women’s subordination in the first place, rather than a practice that seeks to circumnavigate them and create alternatives.
The exhibition foregrounds the importance of art and feminism as lived practices that have the potential to unsettle hegemonic patriarchal structures. Avoiding the pitfalls of dominant heteronormative culture is not easy and, as such, the emphasis of the event will be on feminist art practices as an ongoing work-in-progress that calls for continual self-reflection and critical analysis. The day will explore the methods by which feminist artworks contest the status quo and resist recuperation by the dominant patriarchal system. The artworks and discussion are an invitation to gauge how the artists involved with Practice in Dialogue have responded to contemporary issues while offering the possibility for a thorough and interrogative conversation, which is essential if feminism is to retain its potency.
Practice in Dialogue is a small working group of feminist artists dedicated to examining the formal structures and strategies of historical feminist art alongside their own art practices. Founded by Catherine Long and Rose Gibbs, Practice in Dialogue evolved out of a need to create a space in which to think critically about feminist art practices. Participating artists are: Miriam Austin, Alison Ballance and Abigail Smith, Ingrid Berthon-Moine, Cécile Emmanuelle Borra, Rose Gibbs, Lora Hristova, Catherine Long, Lauren Schnieder, Nicola Thomas.
2-5.30pm - Feminist Practices in Dialogue exhibition
4pm - Throat of Flesh
Participatory Reading. Rose Gibbs invites audience members to read a short text out loud together, first in unison and then, for those who wish, alone. This is an exploration into feminism's dual program: where it seeks both to bring people together to recognised gendered group treatment while also seeking to find a route to autonomy and liberation from such categorisation. This exploration will be an experience of how the voice has the capacity for both these facets: it engenders a collectivity when used in unison with others, while also alluding to the primary uniqueness that each voice carries.
5pm Preparation for a Joining Ritual
Miriam Austin with Julie Rose Bower and Pepa Ubera
Preparation for a joining ritual is a ceremony performed to prepare two figures for symbolic joining. The ceremony is structured around a group of sculptural objects, designed to be worn and used in specific ways to enact a series of connections and separations that attempt to bring about a mystical union between the participants. The rite attempts to forge a symbolic vocabulary to articulate the complex experience of intimate relationships and focuses on binding, mixing, cutting, encircling, anointing and parting. The structure of the ceremony is informed by a body of research into rituals and folklore associated with mysterious sea creatures displaying anthropomorphic traits, particularly the Taniwha of Maori myth, and the Selkie, who appears in may Northern European folk traditions.
Women Working Collectively, What is Your Value?
The Temporary Separatists (Rose Gibbs and Sofia Landström) present a panel discussion as part of ICA Talks series Artists, what is your value? Chaired by The Temporary Separatists, speakers include Angela Dimitrakaki, Catherine Elwes, Margaret Harrison and Johanna Gustavsson.
With a focus on collectives that are rooted both in gender (eg. women as distinct from biological sex eg. female) and in place, this discussion considers whether women’s artist collectives can provide a resistance to the atomising individualism of neoliberal capitalism that is at the heart of current global art markets.
The panel rethink what artistic practice is and can be, where women’s collectives make a space not to recreate or infiltrate patriarchal hierarchies, but circumnavigate them.
With an emphasis on active engagement with others, on process rather than product, the panel look to collective art practices where its value relates to communities rather than commodities.
The panel consider feminism’s dual program: where it is both a method to recognise gendered group treatment and also an attempt to find a route to autonomy and liberation from such categorisation. In the light of these seemingly contradictory aims, speakers reflect upon the use of separatism in women’s only collectives.
Can these short-term strategies, that lay bare the painful aspects of society where gender continues to shape lives and dominate both economic and cultural spheres, prove to be effective strategies for achieving long-term goals?
This discussion brings together a range of voices to create a space for dialogue, elliptical associations and learning between generations.
Angela Dimitrakaki is Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Art History and Theory at the University of Edinburgh. Her books include Gender, ArtWork and the Global Imperative: A Materialist Feminist Critique (2013), Politics in a Glass Case: Feminism, Exhibition Cultures and Curatorial Transgressions (2013, co-edited with Lara Perry), ECONOMY: Art, Production and the Subject in the 21st Century (2015, co-edited with Kirsten Lloyd) and, in her native Greek, Art and Globalisation: From the Postmodern Sign to the Biopolitical Arena (2013). She is Corresponding Editor for the interdisciplinary journal HM: Research in Critical Marxist Theory and recently joined Feminist Curators United.
Catherine Elwes, a video artist and writer, co-curated the feminist exhibitions Women’s Images of Men and About Time at the ICA (1980). These shows were born out of her involvement with the Women Artists Collective (formerly the Women’s Workshop of the Artists Union), and the Women’s Art Alliance. She went on to initiate a number of video events including the biennial UK/Canadian Film & Video Exchange (1998-2006) and Figuring Landscapes (2008-2010). Her videos have been shown widely both here and abroad and her work is in a number of public collections. Elwes is author of Video Loupe (2000), Video Art, a guided tour (2005), and Installation and the Moving Image (2015). Elwes is Professor of Moving Image Art at Chelsea College of Arts, UAL, and Founding Editor of the Moving Image Review & Art Journal (MIRAJ) (Intellect Books).
Rose Gibbs is part of the art/research collective The Temporary Separatists. She is an artist, writer and activist with an MA in Fine Art Sculpture from The Royal College of Art. She explores the space between collective and individual experiences of identity using the voice in participatory performances, as well as sculpture and sound intervention. Recent performances have included Performing Protest, Becoming Radicaland Slogans for Becoming at The Function Room London, and Eastside Projects, Birmingham. She organises discussions, such as Taking Up Space –Women Only Shows - hosted by The Contemporary Art Society, and Reproducing Motherhood and is co-founder of a feminist art discussion group Practice in Dialogue at Chelsea College of Art. She writes for Huffington Post and works with The East London Fawcett Group. In 2013 she was director of the One Billion Rising Arts Festival.
Johanna Gustavsson is an artist currently based in Gothenburg, Sweden. Her work focuses on feminist, race and class-related issues, through mediums such as text, performance and social interactions. Her work has included numerous collaborations, fx: FAGS – Feminist Art Gallery Solidarity, radikal pedagogik, MFK - Malmö Free University for Women, the YES! association, I want a president... , Nobody Puts Baby In A Corner, The Production Unit. She was educated at Valand Art Academy in Gothenburg, Sweden and at the Whitney Independent Study Program in New York, US.
Margaret Harrison is a radical artist whose practice extends through fifty years since the late sixties. She was one of the founders of the London Women’s Liberation Art Group in 1970, as well as the Women’s Workshop of the Artist Union. Between 1973 and 1975 she collaborated with artists Kay Hunt and Mary Kelly to conduct a study of women’s work in a metal box factory in Bermondsey in London. They presented their findings in the installation Women and Work: A Document on the Division of Labour in Industry 1973-1975 that was first display at the South London Art Gallery in 1975. Her work was included in the exhibition Issue: Social Strategies by Women Artists, curated by Lucy R. Lippard at the ICA, (1980) and has since been exhibited widely including at Tate Modern, Tate Britain and MOCA.
Sofia Landström is part of the art/research collective The Temporary Separatists. Her work focuses on feminism, exhibitions and feminist theorising. Her interest for exhibitions as a place for discussion and dialogue began during her time as chairman at Galleri Pictura in Lund. Here she realised how the exhibition premises not only encompass that what is hung on the walls, but is also influenced by everything that is taking place outside; politics, economy and social changes. Landströms current interest take their departure in the concept of ‘Women-Only-Shows´, using three Swedish exhibitions as starting-points; Kvinnfolk (1975) , Störning (1993) and Syster (2014). She investigates questions surrounding dissent and `models of resistance´, exploring where new narratives are being created as oppose to ghettoized. Landström has just completed her MFA in Exhibition Studies at Central Saint Martins in London.
Taking Up Space - Women Only Shows
Curated and Chaired by Rose Gibbs for The Contemporary Art Society and The East London Fawcett Group at Central Saint MartinsCollege of Art and Design
Women artists are still woefully under represented making up only 30% of gallery artists. In the 70s women decided that the solution to their lack of representation was to curate women only shows. These days all too often people balk at this idea because these exhibitions are seen as arbitrary and ghettozing. But what if they are a way of getting work seen? As Lynn Hershman Lesson says in !WOMEN ART REVOLUTION: "History is fragile it clings to the most obvious evidence that remains".
This discussion thinks through what is at stake for our culture in a situation where men continue to dominate on the basis of prejudicial favour of their sex, rather than their merit, and talented women and their works remain unseen and uncelebrated.
Iwona Blazwick OBE- Director, The Whitechapel Gallery
Sonia Boyce MBE -Artist
Caroline Douglas- Director, Contemporary Art Society
Ann Gallagher- Curator and Head of Collections Tate Britain
Professor Hilary Robinson- Dean of Art and Design, Middlesex University
Vanessa Jackson- Artist
Elizabeth Neilson- Director of The Zabludowicz Collection
Jennifer Thatcher- Art Critic
Read Rose Gibbs' Huffington Post blog on Women Only Exhibitions.
One Billion Rising Arts Festival
Director Rose Gibbs
Chair Nadja Romain
One Billion Rising is a campaign that seeks to end violence against women and girls. The One Billion Rising Arts Festival 2013 sought address this difficult issue through a series of events, including art exhibitions, theatre and dance events, a mini-symposium at The Royal College of Art as well as a spoken word poetry evening and film and performance nights. Working with a team of volunteers the festival was designed with events tailored to a range of specific demographics. On V-Day The Dan Graham Pavilion at The Hayward Gallery provided a space in which to bring campaign groups, NGOs, activists to come together in solidarity with this campaign.
East London Fawcett Group
From 2011-2015 Rose Gibbs organised a series of talks and tours for the feminist activist group The East London Fawcett Group. This involved artists talks, and exhibition tours to London galleries and museums. In 2014 ELF did the Great East London Art Audit, a collective endeavour auditing gender representation of artists across London galleries. This can be downloaded here.