Karolina Majewska-Güde

Abstract

In my paper I propose a reflection on the processes of the feminist openings of the archives of political and emancipatory art from CEE, which were created by female neo-avant-garde artists. The term “opening” is understood here as a material practice of accessing and redoing the archive, historicising it and instituting it, but also as narrating
and storytelling. In the first part of my text I will look at the recent practices of the historicization of CEE feminist art and the grammar of the stories about the feminist art in socialist Europe. In the second part I will focus on the question of what kind of stories we need today and what kind of stories are possible to tell from the practice of opening the archives. My approach is inspired by recent feminist art historiography that reconsiders archives as places of collaboration, as a multi-authored entities, places of care and control. In this light, I interpret an archive as the storage of declared and undeclared dispositions of works of art. The curatorial and research practices of feminist redoing of CEE art have to be seen within a broader framework of the involvement in rewriting post-war art histories
and uncovering “hidden histories” focused on retrieving the emancipatory potential of the past projects. If the first stage of historicization of CEE feminist artistic practices was focused on the so-called resistance of many female cultural producers to identify themselves as “feminist artists” more recent scholarship questions this approach. From today’s perspective, this resistance can be understood as a decolonial strategy, as resistance to being colonized in order to shape one’s own artistic work according to the concepts that have emerged elsewhere in different
contexts. Victoria Horne and Lara Perry argue that ”the writing of histories about feminism and art is a process that necessities – simultaneously – fidelity to previous moments and also their renewal and extension in light of
current demands.” In my paper I will argue that “renewal and extension”, i.e. “carrying about the past and at the same time creating new perspectives”, is possible as a practice of dialogue in the archives. A dialog is under- stood here after Marsha Meskimmon not as a conversation between two people, but as speaking through, knowing with.

Karolina Majewska-Güde is a researcher, art critic and curator. Her research focuses on the East-Central European neo-avantgardes, feminist art histories, contemporary issues of circulation, translation, and production of knowledges through art-based research. She has recently published Ewa Partum’s Artistic Practice: An Atlas of Continuity in Different Locations (Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag, 2021).

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