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.
Telling Stories about Feminist Art in Socialist Europe.or the Archive as a Place of Cross-Generational Remaking
‘Each time a story helps me remember what I thought I knew, or introduces me to new knowledge, a muscle critical for
caring about flourishing gets some aerobic exercise.’
Donna Haraway 1
‘Archives matter. What is included shapes forever what
we think we were and hence what we might become.’
Griselda Pollock 2
‘Archives matter’ – I use this statement as a guide to reconsider questions related to the historicisation of feminist art in East-Central Europe (ECE) and in particular storytelling from and with the archives of feminist art in former socialist Europe. The ‘matter’ here
reminds us of both: the physical materiality that is preserved in the space of the archives and of the importance of an action of collecting
and accumulating for storytelling. ‘Mattering’ in relation to artistic archives, therefore, means both bringing the short-lived, processual and immaterial to some forms of objective existence and giving meaning to the archives themselves. Archives, in this paper, are understood not as stable repositories of the past, but as important sites of permanent potentiality, 3 as ‘leaky economies of generative and persistent acts in time’. 4 From this perspective, the archive concerns the future rather than the past and is always viewed as incomplete, as a stage for processes and collective and intergenerational labour. By referring to artistic archives, I consider, therefore, flexible forms where material and discursive traces of artistic work, accumulate and transform.
In my paper, I propose a reflection through a case study concerning the processes of the feminists’ opening of the artistic archives of female neoavantgarde artists in ECE. The term ‘opening’ is understood here as the material practice of accessing the archive and reshaping it, historicising and instituting the archive, but also narrating and storytelling.
In the first part of the paper, I focus on the recent practices of the historicisation of ECE feminist art and I try to identify the dominant
narrative patterns of stories ‘already written’ about feminist art in socialist Europe. In the second part, I reflect on the question of what kind of stories are possible to tell from the practice of opening the archives. I consider the performativity of the archive through an engagement that ‘erodes conventional antagonism between performance and the archive acknowledging […] that archives perform’. 5
My contribution stands at the intersection of a tendency strongly present in feminist art historiography to analyse the
models and modes of art historical narratives, 6 and the performative turn in knowledge production, 7 which in contemporary curatorial and artistic practice have led to a proliferation of projects devoted to remaking/re-performing the archives, and to which I will return at the end of the article.
My approach is inspired in particular by recent feminist art historiography that reconsiders archives as places of collaboration, as multi authored entities, places of care and control. 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’. 8 8 In my paper, I argue that the ‘renewal and expansion’, i.e. ‘caring for this past, while making new perspectives’, is possible as a practice of dialogue within the archives. A dialogue understood here after Marsha Meskimmon not as conversation between two, but a ‘speaking through’, knowing with. 9 9
The stories ‘already written’ about feminist art in socialist Europe
Art created by female practitioners in socialist Europe, and realised in the context of a transnational neoavant-garde movement, aimed – like the art of their male counterparts – to develop a new artistic language that addressed the complexity of a rapidly changing, modernised, standardised, scientifically based and increasingly consumerist world, and articulated the place of art and the individual subject within these new social constellations. In each country of the former Eastern Bloc, the different political dynamics of the socialism that operated there shaped the national cultural policy in relation to local experimental art scenes differently. These relationships differed not only in nuances, but also in essential structural features. Depending on their location on the map of socialist Europe, the corresponding artistic strategies therefore had different meanings. 10
The ECE was not a culturally and politically unified space – we have to distinguish here especially between the soviet satellite states and the Yugoslav state. The whole region shared the historical experience of the socialist modernisation of the post-war period, and the communist ideological appropriation of public space which influenced the way in which feminisms and feminist art could be practised and theorised. The commonalities in this geopolitical space were the lack of a mass feminist movement, with the exception of Yugoslavia, 11 alongside an official rhetoric of equality, as well as fairly traditional gender concepts and ossified social structures that focussed on the heterosexual family.
Artists in the 1960s and 1970s started departing from art realised within traditional media such as painting and sculpture. In the case of many female artists (for instance Natalia LL, Zorka Ságlová, Dóra Maurer and many others), their points of departure were often disciplines of applied arts. At art academies, they worked initially with heterogeneous mediums and techniques such as graphic art, fabric, glass or spatial painting, rather than with the highly idealised mediums of painting, as their male colleagues often did. 12 Some ECE female artists operated within an explicitly feminist rhetoric, demanding equal rights as women and female artists, questioning male privilege and decoding discriminatory practices within visual culture. Many others produced works that engaged with issues of identity, representation and gender, without relying on a feminist theoretical framework. If feminists in the West dealt theoretically with questions of identity and its deconstruction, in the ECE this critique was often performed by artists who did not necessarily identify themselves as feminist, but used art to address and examine the issues of language, subjectivity and identity.
I would like to take a brief look at the recent process of historicising these practices after 1989, at the conceptualisations of the relationship between feminism and art in ECE. From today’s perspective, we can not only identify the patterns of forgetting and marginalising ECE
artists, but also look closely at the patterns for remembering them.
In the early stages of this process, ‘feminism’ was identified and equated with the strategies and goals of the second wave of Western feminism. In many different ways, the question of why women artists in ECE did not identify as feminist artists was asked, and different stories were told to show that feminism was indeed present in ECE. 13 These stories, which coincided with the beginning of regional feminist art history, were based on a model that can be described as excavating narratives created against a double lack, absence even – of geopolitical and gender-based marginalisation. They were concerned with the traces that would prove the existence of feminist interests and attitudes among ECE artists, who often operated in isolation from the feminist art movement. These stories were about unveiling and exhibiting feminist traces, often within female-only art exhibitions and other interventions in the existing canons realised from a perspective closed to the pattern described by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak as ‘strategic essentialism’.
This strategy was soon accompanied by a contrary one based on questioning why the patterns of Western feminism should exist in cultural production at all, which was realised under completely different social and political circumstances. 14 These stories aimed to pluralise and localise the concept of feminism – speaking of many feminisms and in a variety of ways, focusing on ‘common differences’ 15 – which also coincided with the wave of research exhibitions on ‘global feminisms’ 16 and their criticism voiced from de-colonial and anti-imperialist perspectives. 17
These narratives, which could be described as attempts to unlearn the hegemonic patterns of the Western ‘second wave’ feminism, focused
on gender-specific emancipatory politics and actions, on artistic non-conformism and rebelliousness, and clearly distinguished between feminist curating and its aims, and feminist art and its effects. When stories moved from ‘gender checking’ towards narratives on ‘gendered artistic positions and social voices’, and when ‘radical women’ 18 were replacing ‘feminist artists’, the focus also shifted from similarities to the deviations of these practices from the local and international mainstreams.
The stories told about ‘radical women’ 19, ‘agents and provocateurs’ 20 can be described as deviant narratives. From this perspective, the broadly discussed refusal of many ECE artists to identify themselves as feminist artists must to be seen as a continuation of this radical stance; it can be understood as a de-colonial strategy, as resistance against being colonised and having one’s own artistic work shaped according to concepts that arose elsewhere in different contexts.
Another series of stories about feminist art in ECE, recently developed, emerge from a new set of questions related to labour, the
socialist politics of welfare, 21 and also from the reconstruction of transnational alliances and solidarities in the light of new historical research on global socialism. 22 The contemporary paradigm of transnational intersectional feminism, that pays attention not to the feminist identities, but to the current urgencies and affinities within the common feminist struggle for non-violent world 23 shapes also contemporary ways of defining and approaching feminists art in former socialist Europe. We are now not so much worried about the particularities of ECE conditions for feminist art-making, but rather thinking about solidarities and alliances that cut across and between former second and third worlds, omitting often overrepresented centres. These generate stories about coalitions, solidarity narratives, which focus on the reconstruction of the actual and potential networks and alliances between feminist struggles – between East and South, margin to margin, ‘forging epistemic communities beyond essence and identity’. 24
There is one more thing to note in this context. In their essay on performativity, Jonah Westerman and Catherine Wood point out that it not only matters how the stories are written/told, but also how they are inhabited and transmitted. They emphasise that history is
always already related to where we are, even constitutive of it, that ‘the inheritance of the past that precedes you, makes you’. 25 Westerman and Wood introduce the term ‘uncertain inheritance’, referring to previous practices that need to be approached and made visible as living concerns. With that in mind, I would like to refer to the question of the opening of the archives of the ‘uncertain inheritance’ of feminist art that can become a living concern during this process. It is not only about the fact that the new, empirical material form the archives acquire can go against existing concepts and narratives, but also about other modes and possibilities of scholarly engagements with the archives.
Provisional stories of feminist art in socialist Europe
I would like to propose a reflection on the process of the opening of archives as a way to tell not-yet-written-stories, by the means of historiography through performance, i.e. by traversing disciplinary boundaries via practice-as-research. Marsha Meskimmon writes: ‘Thinking differently requires the introduction of new tools, for as Audre Lorde so eloquently wrote, the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.’ 26 Opening up various methodological possibilities and redesigning the way in which archives are being used by researchers relates in this case to the feminist commitment for thinking – and acting – differently.
In his essay on the archaeological turn in contemporary performance, Nick Kaye deliberates on the contemporary tendency of remaking works of performative art across different media, as ‘simulations and interrogations of past events through new works’. 27 He develops his analysis by recalling practices of interpretative archaeology that refocus ‘on the relationship between material remains of subjects now lost and contemporary archaeologists themselves as social actors’. 28 In this context, Kaye argues that ‘there is no final account of the past as it was, then histories are always not yet written’. 29
Drawing on the concept of an entanglement as a model for cultural encounter and the vision of history as ‘always not yet written’, I developed, together with Dorota Walentynowicz, a project Washkaue: Divining Line, released in 2018 at Viennese feminist Mz* Baltazar’s
Laboratory, an artist-run feminist hacker-space. The works presented and realised in Vienna originated in our collaborative research on re/productive labour conducted during a residency at the Performing Arts Choreographisches Zentrum NRW Tanzlandschaft Ruhr, which
took place in the renovated Bathhouse of an Essen coalmine. 30
For the exhibition in Vienna, apart from creating a relationship with the ‘uncertain heritage’ of feminist past through an enactment of a work by the Polish artist Maria Pinińska-Bereś (1932–1999), we were also concerned with conceptual tools, such as performative research, the questions about conclusions in the creative process, evaluation of artistic knowledge, and transformative relations between them. In our work, we combined historical and factual knowledge with experience-based knowledge. This concept of experience was not only important in the context of the reception of our work, but throughout the process, using thinking, feeling, doing – as ways
of acquiring and creating knowledge about the enacted performance. It was a reflection on the paradigm of performative research – that is, not so much ‘research that manifests itself in the form of a performance, but research that does something’. 31 This theoretical model has been described by Barbara Bold as based on the principle of a repetition with difference; this difference enables the production of new knowledge 32 from which new stories can arise.
The project used and incorporated performance archives, reactivating feminist impulses present in the work Washing (Pranie, 1981-82) by Maria Pinińska-Bereś and rewriting a work that constitutes a ‘milestone’ in the history of action art in Poland, Tadeusz Kantor’s Dividing Line (Linia podziału, 1965). The title of the exhibition, and a film realised during the residency in Essen, played a game with Kantor’s disinterested work. Dividing Line was misquoted to refer to the gendered division of labour.
In the performance Saturday is Laundry Day, realised as a part of the exhibition, we enacted the not-yet-written-story of Pinińska-Bereś’s work, re-inscribing it within the vocabulary that refers to the contemporary culture of evaluation, in which the term performance
defines not only ‘a mode of artistic engagement but also a behavioural system tied to monetary benefit’. 33 Within the enactment of Pinińska-Bereś’s work we also established a temporal constellation with Mierle Laderman Ukeles’s Maintenance Art Manifesto (1969), i.e. with another performative feminist practice concerned with the gendered division of labour and social reproduction. Our performance consisted in repeating differently the scenario of the action realised by the Polish artist (washing). While one of us (the artist) was doing the laundry, the other (the art historian) was evaluating this work in terms of actual and symbolic labour. In the work by Pinińska-Bereś, the artist washed pieces of cloth and let them dry. When they were hung up they formed the word ‘feminism’, which was rewritten as ‘maintenance’ in our enactment.
By re-enacting Pinińska-Bereś’s performance Washing, we sought to do two things – to maintain her work and reinforce the distinct motives that lay behind it, but also to reflect on its potential feminist impact today, in relation to contemporary evaluative culture and the issue of reproductive labour, maintenance and care work in a post-socialist transnational context. We were also interested in using this work to reflect upon the actual process of historicisation of feminist performance, i.e. its maintenance. At the same time the experiential knowledge acquired by engaging with the materiality of Pinińska-Bereś’s performance allowed us to understand, or imagine the course of the performance itself, how this work was embodied by the artist, how the audience might react, how doing the laundry in a gallery space resonated.
There are several stories about the feminism of Maria Pinińska-Bereś’s art already told through solo and group exhibitions, art historical analyses 34 and also re-performances. 35 The story, told through a collective re-enacting of her work by an artist and an art historian,
was not about retelling them. Instead, our story transversally connected narratives about the evaluation of productive and reproductive labor, with a question about the evaluation of a feminist performance – in the geopolitical context (by recalling Ukeles’ canonical work) and local art historical context (by a reference to Kantor’s canonical work). The problems of evaluating feminist artwork and evaluating productive and reproductive work intertwined in a similar way in Pinińska-Bereś’s life. Throughout her creative life, she worked alongside Jerzy Bereś, her husband and one of the most celebrated protagonists of performance art in Poland in the 1960s and 1970s. This biographical context seems particularly important in the case of work Washing.
The temporal narrative, created within the framework of the ‘Dividing Line’ exhibition, was not historically situated. It didn’t follow
a timeline, had neither a beginning nor an end – it was just a fragmented, open, and tentative story. In her book on the global history of feminisms, Lucy Delap defines feminisms as attempts to politicise the injustice of gender, and she argues that the ability to name themselves as feminist always remains provisional. 36 Also Masha Meskimmon elaborates on the question of provisionality in this context: ‘No text can be classified once and for all as wholly feminist or wholly patriarchal: these appellations depend on its context, its place within this context, how it is used, by whom and to what effect. These various contingencies dictate that at best a text is feminist or patriarchal only provisionally, only momentarily, only in some but not in all of its possible readings, and in some but not all of its possible effects’. 37 In the same ways, the stories created through the performative engagement with ECE feminist art, such as the one proposed in
the ‘Dividing Line’ research exhibition can be described as provisional narratives, i.e. narratives that update past feminisms and feminist
art, but also address contemporary feminist urgencies through and with the works realised in the past. Provisional narratives are located
between two opposite positions, which Angela Dimitrakaki defines in her discussion on feminist political curating in a post-socialist transnational context as preserving or forgetting the historical meaning of an art work. 38 Instead, they aim to repeat it, with a difference.
Today, more important than the question about the relationship between art and feminism in former socialist Europe, is the question
of what kind of stories do we need about this art, to strengthen our transnational solidarities and empower our intersectional struggle. In other words, ‘we need a history that does not save in any sense of the world; we need a history that performs’. 39 To that end, artists and researchers reopen the archives to use them not only as sources of feminist art historiography, but also as ‘reiterations to be acted upon, as potential evidence for histories yet to be completed’. 40
If the stories on feminist art in socialist Europe described in the first part of the paper as excavated, deviant and solidarity narratives were based on a vision of history created through research in the archives, through speaking from the archives, provisional narratives represent a model of engagement with the past described by Meskimmon as speaking with. This model, which can be described as a cross-generational reshaping of the archive, is related to the practice of ‘making and maintaining the past’ 41 rather than discovering it. In the case of feminist art historiography in particular, provisional narratives offer parallel accounts in contrast to the re-narrations that ‘often rely on producing corrective accounts’. 42
In a broader perspective, provisional narratives can be situated within a tendency of reorganisation in knowledge production – from representative research to performative research. If the ‘the aim of representative research is to produce constant and parameterised knowledge, and to introduce a strictly defined methodology’ 43 the purpose of knowledge produced performatively relates to its applicability and agency. The usefulness of the knowledge generated in our project concerns practising intergenerational solidarity between an artist who dealt with feminist issues from the perspective of socialist Poland and contemporary feminist researchers. The aim of this knowledge is to produce ‘transformative lineages’ 44 which are ‘passionate historiographies’ 45 that can bring the ‘the conviction that we might, once again, be agents of change in time and history’. 46
The stories, which I have called provisional narratives, produce but do not sustain the knowledge of past feminist artistic practices, and in that sense they rather create a constant demand to revisit the archives, a demand for speaking with them.
- Altmann, Susanne, Katarina Lozo and Hilke Wagner, eds., Medea muckt auf. Radikale Künstlerinnen hinter dem Eisernen Vorhang / The Medea Insurrection: Radical Women Artists Behind the Iron Curtain, exh. cat., (Cologne: Walter König, 2019)
- Barrett, Estelle, Barbara Bolt, eds., Practice as Research: Approaches to Creative Arts Enquiry (London: Bloomsbury, 2010)
- Blockner, Jane M., Where Is Ana Mendieta? Identity, Performativity, and Exile (Durham: Duke University Press, 1999)
- Bolt, Barbara, ‘Artistic Research: A Performative Paradigm’, Parse Journal, 3 (2016), 129–142
- Buchmann, Sabeth, Anke Deyes, Isabelle Graw, Colin Lang, ‘Preface’, in Texte zur Kunst: Perfomances Evaluation, 110 (2018), 6–7
- Clarke, Paul et al., ‘Introduction: Inside and Outside the Archive’, in Artist in the Archive. Creative and Curatorial Engagements with Documents of Art and Performance, ed. by Paul Clarke et al. (London and New York: Routledge, 2018), pp. 11–24
- De Baere, Bart, ‘Potentiality and Public Space: Archives as a Metaphor for and Example of Public Culture’, in Interarchive. Archivarische Praktiken und Handlungsräume im zeitgenössischen Kunstfeld / Archival Practices and Sites in the Contemporary Art Field, ed. by Hans-Peter Feldmann et al. (Cologne: Walter König, 2002), pp. 105–112
- Delap, Lucy, Feminisms: A Global History (London: Pelican Books, 2020)
- Deutsche, Rosalyn et al., ‘Feminist Time: A Conversation’, Grey Room, 31 (2008), 32–67
- Dimitrakaki, Angela, ‘Feminist Politics and Institutional Critiques: Imagining a Curatorial Commons’, in Working with Feminism: Curating and Exhibitions in Eastern Europe, ed. by Katrin Kivimaa (Tallinn: Tallinn University, 2012), pp. 19–39
- Eichhorn, Kate, The Archival Turn in Feminism: Outrage in Order (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2013)
- Feldmann, Hans-Peter et al., eds., Interarchive. Archivarische Praktiken und Handlungsräume im zeitgenössischen Kunstfeld / Archival Practices and Sites in the Contemporary Art Field (Cologne: Walter König, 2002)
- Ferdman, Bertie, Jovana Stokic, eds., The Methuen Drama Companion to Performance Art (London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2020)
- Gajewska, Bożena, Jerzy Hanusek, eds., Maria Pinińska–Bereś 1931–1999, (Krakow: Galeria Sztuki Współczesnej Bunkier Sztuki, 1999)
- Ghodsee, Kristen, Second World, Second Sex: Socialist Women’s Activism and Global Solidarity During the Cold War (Durham: Duke University Press, 2019)
- Haraway, Donna, Staying with the Trouble, Making Kin in the Chthulucene (Durham: Duke University Press, 2016)
- Hock, Beáta, Gendered Creative Options and Social Voices: Politics, Cinema and the Visual Arts in State-socialist and Post-socialist Hungary (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2013)
- Horne, Victoria, Lara Perry, eds., Feminism and Art History Now: Radical Critiques of Theory and Practice (London: I.B. Tauris, 2017)
- Jakubowska, Agata, ‘Gender Politics and the Art of European Socialist States’, research seminar <http://cah.amu.edu.pl/> [accessed 1 October 2021]
- Kaye, Nick, ‘Liveness and the Entanglements with Things’, in Artist in the Archive. Creative and Curatorial Engagements with Documents of Art and Performance, ed. by Paul Clarke et al. (London and New York: Routledge, 2018), pp. 25–51
- Kivimaa, Katrin, ed., Working with Feminism: Curating and Exhibitions in Eastern Europe (Tallinn: Tallinn University, 2012)
- Kurti, Emese, ‘Katalin Ladik and the First Generation of “Feminist” Artists in Hungary’, in Medea muckt auf. Radikale Künstlerinnen hinter dem Eisernen Vorhang / The Medea Insurrection: Radical Women Artists Behind the Iron Curtain, exh. cat., ed. by Susanne Altmann, Katarina Lozo and Hilke Wagner (Cologne: Walter König, 2019), pp. 50–58
- Lamm, Kimberly, ‘Gestures of Inclusion, Bodily Damage and the Hauntings of Exploitation in Global Feminisms’ (2007), in Feminism and Art History Now: Radical Critiques of Theory and Practice, ed. by Victoria Horne, Lara Perry (London: I.B. Tauris, 2017), pp. 230–259
- Lóránd, Zsófia, ‘Socialist-Era New Yugoslav Feminism between “Mainstreaming” and “Disengagement”: The Possibilities for Resistance, Critical Opposition and Dissent’, Hungarian Historical Review 5, no. 4 (2016), 854–881
- Meskimmon, Marsha, Transnational Feminisms, Traversal Politics and Art: Entanglements and Intersections (London and New York: Routledge, 2020)
- Mohanty, Chandra Talpade, ed., Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991)
- Pawlicka, Urszula, ‘The Humanities: A Workshop, a Centre, or a Laboratory?’, Teksty Drugie, 1 (2017), 314–333
- Pejić, Bojana, ed., Gender Check: A Reader: Art and Theory in Eastern Europe (Vienna and Cologne: Walter König, 2010)
- Pollock, Griselda, Encounters in the Virtual Feminist Museum: Time, Space and the Archive (London and New York: Routledge 2007)
- Rozmarin, Miri, ‘Feminism, Time, and Nonlinear History’, European Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology, 5, no. 4 (2018), 480–483
- Rusinová, Zora, ‘The Totalitarian Period and Latent Feminism’ (2003), in: Gender Check: A Reader: Art and Theory in Eastern Europe, ed. by Bojana Pejić (Vienna and Cologne: Walter König, 2010), pp. 145–149
- Taylor, Diana, The Archive and the Repertoire: Performing Cultural Memory in the Americas (Durnham: Duke University Press, 2003)
- Westerman Jonah, Catherine Wood, ‘From the Institution of Performance to the Performance of Institutions’, in The Methuen Drama Companion to Performance Art, ed. by Bertie Ferdman and Jovana Stokic (London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2020), pp. 220–246
- Donna Haraway, Staying with the Trouble, Making Kin in the Chthulucene (Durham: Duke University Press, 2016), p. 29. ↩︎
- Griselda Pollock, Encounters in the Virtual Feminist Museum: Time, Space and the Archive (London and New York: Routledge 2007), p. 12. ↩︎
- Bart De Baere, ‘Potentiality and Public Space: Archives as a Metaphor for and Example of Public Culture’, in Interarchive. Archivarische Praktiken
und Handlungsräume im zeitgenössischen Kunstfeld / Archival Practices and Sites in the Contemporary Art Field, ed. by Hans-Peter Feldmann et al. (Cologne: Walter König, 2002), pp. 105–112 (p. 111). De Baere argues:‘Constant potentialization as a goal liberates archives from their false identification with the past by transforming their receptivity into infrastructure, by seeing it as a permanent part of their work, which is also liberating with regard to any pressure to keep up to date. Archives are the presenters of a possible image in which past, present, and future are a continuum.’ ↩︎
- Paul Clarke et al., ‘Introduction: Inside and Outside the Archive’, in Artist in the Archive. Creative and Curatorial Engagements with Documents of Art and Performance, ed. by Paul Clarke et al. (London and New York: Routledge, 2018), pp. 11–24 (p. 11). ↩︎
- Ibidem. ↩︎
- Feminism and Art History Now: Radical Critiques of Theory and Practice,
ed. by Victoria Horne, Lara Perry (London: I.B. Tauris, 2017), p. 10. ↩︎
- With respect to cultural history see for instance Diana Taylor, The Archive and the Repertoire: Performing Cultural Memory in the Americas (Durnham: Duke University Press, 2003). ↩︎
- Feminism and Art History Now, ed. by Victoria Horne, Lara Perry, p. 10 ↩︎
- Marsha Meskimmon, Transnational Feminisms, Transversal Politics and Art: Entanglements and Intersections (London and New York: Routledge, 2020) ↩︎
- Let us take the example of the production of performative art in nature. While the Polish neo-avant garde practiced processual art at official open-air meetings, which were retrospectively referred to as ‘reservoirs of freedom’, Czechoslovak artists went into the fields and forests after 1968 because the official art infrastructures were not available to them. ↩︎
- With the exception of the Yugoslav space, which differed from other countries of the socialist block due to the split with the Soviet Union in 1949, and the international polices of Josip Broz Tito’s regime (1945–1980). On the specificities of Yugoslav feminism see, for instance, Zsófia Lóránd, ‘Socialist-Era New Yugoslav Feminism between “Mainstreaming” and “Disengagement”: The Possibilities for Resistance, Critical Opposition and Dissent’, Hungarian Historical Review 5, no 4 (2016), 854–881. ↩︎
- This observation can be extended to other locations including Western Europe. ↩︎
- The contextual differences of the development of feminist practices produced within the socialist East and capitalist West were analysed and acknowledged by researchers participating in the ‘Gender Check‘ project. One of the micro-narrations amplified within the ‘Gender Check‘ exhibition and accompanying publications was that of ‘latent feminism’, a term introduced by Zora Rusinová to denote Eastern European artists (in her case, Slovakian artists) who, to a considerable extent, refused to identify with feminist discourse and preferred to speak about genderless art, while at the same time creating art that engaged with feminist issues. See Zora Rusinová, ‘The Totalitarian Period and Latent Feminism’ (2003), in: Gender Check: A Reader: Art and Theory in Eastern Europe, ed. by Bojana Pejić (Vienna and Cologne: Walter König, 2010), pp. 145–149. ↩︎
- See for instance Beáta Hock, Gendered Creative Options and Social Voices: Politics, Cinema and the Visual Arts in State-socialist and Post-socialist Hungary (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2013) ↩︎
- In this context Angela Dimitrakaki asked how ‘common differences’ – originally the title of an early-1980s feminist conference in America and a phrase strongly associated with Chandra Talpade Mohanty’s work on feminism, globalisation and the ‘Third World’ (Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism, ed. by
Chandra Talpade Mohanty (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991) – could possibly become a useful concept in a feminist discussion of the situatedness of curating thirty years later. Angela Dimitrakaki, ‘Feminist Politics and Institutional Critiques: Imagining a Curatorial Commons’, in Working with Feminism: Curating and Exhibitions in Eastern Europe, ed. by Katrin Kivimaa (Tallinn: Tallinn University, 2012), pp. 19–39. ↩︎
- These exhibitions included, among several others, ‘Global Feminisms’, originally premiered at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art
at the Brooklyn Museum, New York City, United States, in March 2007. ‘Global Feminisms’ was the first international exhibition exclusively dedicated to feminist art from 1990 to the present. The exhibition was co-curated by Maura Reilly and Linda Nochlin and consisted of works by 88 women artists from 62 countries. ‘WACK! Art and The Feminist Revolution’, curated by Cornelia Butler, MOCA, Los Angeles; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington D.C. (September–December 2007); PS.1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, New York(February–May 2008); and Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver (October 2008–January 2009). ↩︎
- See, for instance, Rosalyn Deutsche et al., ‘Feminist Time: A Conversation’, Grey Room, 31 (2008), 32–67; or Kimberly Lamm, ‘Gestures of Inclusion, Bodily Damage and the Hauntings of Exploitation in Global Feminisms’ (2007), in Feminism and Art History Now, ed. by Victoria Horne, Lara Perry, pp. 230–259. ↩︎
- See Medea muckt auf. Radikale Künstlerinnen hinter dem Eisernen Vorhang / The Medea Insurrection: Radical Women Artists Behind the Iron Curtain, exh. cat., ed. by Suzanne Altmann, Katarina Lozo, and Hilke Wagner (Cologne: Walter König, 2019). ↩︎
- Emese Kurti argues: ‘As with other Eastern European women artists, the absolutely personal aesthetic of Ladik’s body and sound poetry become graspable not so much in their affinity to mainstream discourse but in
their deviation from it.’ Emese Kurti, ‘Katalin Ladik and the First Generation of “Feminist” Artists in Hungary’, in Medea muckt auf / The Medea Insurrection, ed. by Suzanne Altmann, Katarina Lozo, and Hilke Wagner, pp. 50–58 (p. 55) ↩︎
- I refer to the title of ‘Agents & Provocateurs’, a research-based artistic project consisting of an exhibition, film programme, an online archive, lectures and workshops, curated at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Dunaújváros and Hartware MedienKunstVerein, Dortmund by Beáta Hock, Franciska Zólyom and Inke Arns in 2010. ↩︎
- See for instance ‘Gender Politics and the Art of European Socialist States’, research seminar organised by Agata Jakubowska <http://cah .amu.edu.pl/> [accessed 1 October 2021]. ↩︎
- See for instance Kristen Ghodsee, Second World, Second Sex: Socialist Women’s Activism and Global Solidarity During the Cold War (Durham: Duke University Press, 2019). ↩︎
- The E.A.S.T. (Essential Autonomous Struggles Transnational) collective represents an example of such an approach, ‘a network composed mostly of women, migrants, workers and activists born out of the struggles on social reproduction triggered by the pandemic crisis of Covid-19’ ↩︎
- Marsha Meskimmon, Transnational Feminisms, p. 1 ↩︎
- Jonah Westerman and Catherine Wood, ‘From the Institution of Performance to the Performance of Institutions’, in The Methuen Drama Companion to Performance Art, ed. by Bertie Ferdman and Jovana Stokic (London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2020), pp. 220–246 (p. 233). ↩︎
- Marsha Meskimmon, Transnational Feminisms, p. 5. ↩︎
- Nick Kaye, ‘Liveness and the Entanglements with Things’, in Artist in the Archive, ed. by Paul Clarke et al., pp. 25–51 (p. 25). ↩︎
- Ibidem, p. 38. ↩︎
- Ibidem ↩︎
- More information about the project: <https://www.pact-zollverein.de/en /programme/128-system-uncertain> [accessed 1 October 2021]. ↩︎
- Barbara Bolt, ‘Artistic Research: A Performative Paradigm’, Parse Journal 3 (2016), 129–142. See also Practice as Research: Approaches to Creative
Arts Enquiry, ed. by Estelle Barrett and Barbara Bolt (London: Bloomsbury, 2010). ↩︎
- Ibidem. ↩︎
- Sabeth Buchmann, Anke Deyes, Isabelle Graw, Colin Lang, ‘Preface’, in Texte zur Kunst: Perfomances Evaluation, 110 (2018), 6–7 (p. 6). ↩︎
- See for instance the catalogue Maria Pinińska–Bereś 1931–1999, ed. by Bożena Gajewska, Jerzy Hanusek (Krakow: Galeria Sztuki Współczesnej Bunkier Sztuki, 1999), which, apart from critical texts, includes an anthology of the artist’s texts and bibliography ↩︎
- The reenactment performed by the artist Bettina Bereś, the artist’s daughter, is particularly important in this context. The recreation of the performance Washing I performed by Maria Pinińska-Bereś at the ON gallery in Poznań in November 1980 was realised at the Contemporary Art Gallery in Opole, 9 October 2020. See ‘Pranie I , Bettina Bereś odtwarza performans Marii Pinińskiej-Bereś’, GSW Opole Nowe, 19 October 2020 <https: //www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lE7ew8Wio4> [accessed 1 October 2021]. ↩︎
- Lucy Delap, Feminisms: A Global History (London: Pelican Books, 2020). ↩︎
- Marsha Meskimmon, Transnational Feminisms, p. 5. ↩︎
- Dimitrakaki writes: ‘If embedded art historians concede, for instance, that the image of an Eastern European woman artist (Natalia LL) licking a banana was more about the regional absence of bananas rather than a sexualised, available and commodified femininity, should feminist curating put a full stop after that reading, and why? Can we imagine a curatorial investigation that forgets historical meaning in order to advance readings of such a work that connect the latter to the fate of women who pick and package bananas today far away from post-socialist Europe.’
See Dimitrakaki, ‘Feminist Politics and Institutional Critiques’ ↩︎
- Jane M. Blockner made this statement in connection with the question of the method of historicising the ephemeral practice of Ana Mendieta. In this part, she continues, ‘We are willing to evaluate the disorienting effects that dematerialisation has on art but not the disorienting effect
that it has on our historical accounts.’ See Jane M. Blockner, Where Is Ana Mendieta? Identity, Performativity, and Exile (Durham: Duke University Press, 1999), p. 134. ↩︎
- Artist in the Archive, ed. by Paul Clarke et al., p. 11. ↩︎
- Feminism and Art History Now, ed. by Victoria Horne, Lara Perry, p. 10. ↩︎
- Ibidem. ↩︎
- Urszula Pawlicka, ‘The Humanities: A Workshop, a Centre, or a Laboratory?’, Teksty Drugie, 1 (2017), 314–333 (p. 319). ↩︎
- Miri Rozmairn defines ‘transformative lineages’ as ‘Maps in time, which result from the ongoing act of figuring relations that orient the political subject in her attempts to face the future productively. Creating such lineages is a work of political imagination that transgresses Oedipal, biological, religious, and nationalistic notions of lineage and heritage. Thus, transformative lineages are passionate historiographies which affirm the political desire for a non-patriarchal future.’ See Miri Rozmarin, ‘Feminism, Time, and Nonlinear History’, European Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology, 5, no. 4 (2018), 480–483 (p. 483). ↩︎
- Ibidem. ↩︎
- Kate Eichhorn, The Archival Turn in Feminism: Outrage in Order (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2013), p. 7. Quoted in Feminism and Art History Now, ed. by Victoria Horne, Lara Perry, p. 10. ↩︎
Karolina Majewska-Güde, PhD, is a researcher, art historian, and curator. Her research focuses on the East Central European neo-avant-gardes, feminist epistemologies, performance art, and contemporary issues of circulation, translation, and knowledge-production through art-based research. She is a member of the research collective pisze/mówi/robi, which combines performative and interpretative research on artistic archives. Her recent book Ewa Partum’s Artistic Practice: An Atlas of Continuity in Different Locations was published by Transcript in 2021.