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Gustave Le Gray (French, 1820–1884), Brig on the Water, 1856. Albumen print, 32.1 x 41.3 cm. Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts (1998.32.3)

Feminism after the Waves

Saturday, May 5, 2012
5:00 pm

The resurgence over the past five years of expressly feminist activity in the art world suggests the urgent need to think about feminism not simply as a relic of a historical past but as a vital contemporary and political force. Convened by Judith Rodenbeck, Sarah Lawrence College, and Connie Butler, The Robert Lehman Foundation Chief Curator of Drawings, The Museum of Modern Art, this public conversation held in New York at MoMA's Celeste Bartos Theater, explored the state of feminist theory and the status of women within the various disciplines that together constitute the discourses of contemporary art. This event was supported by the Clark’s Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant.

Participants included: Lauren Berlant, University of Chicago; Sabine Breitwieser, Museum of Modern Art; Connie Butler, Museum of Modern Art; Silvia Kolbowski, artist; Marysia Lewandowska, artist; Jaleh Mansoor, University of British Columbia; Gabi Ngcobo, Center for Historical Reenactments; Senam Okudzeto, artist; Jeanine Oleson, artist; Griselda Pollock, University of Leeds; Gabriela Rangel, Americas Society; and Judith Rodenbeck, Sarah Lawrence College

In order of presentation

May 4, 2012

Welcome/Introductions- audio
Michael Ann Holly, Connie Butler and Judith Rodenbeck

Presentations: Current Projects, Past Histories Presenters:
Griselda Pollock- audio
Gabi Ngcobo
Marysia Lewandowska- audio
Lauren Berlant
Sabine Breitwieser- audio

This session focuses on current projects and the new historicity of feminism. It serves as an initial setting-forth of concerns raised by the new historicity of contemporary feminism. What are the modalities of research, production, and dissemination we engage today, and how do these modalities further or depart from an historically feminist perspective?

Presentations: Current Projects, Past Histories (cont’d):
Silvia Kolbowski- audio
Senam Okudzeto
Jaleh Mansoor- audio
Gabriela Rangel- audio
Jeanine Oleson

Discussion: Contemporary Feminism and Cultural Production

How do current feminist theoretical formations relate to broader contemporary critical matrices? More particularly, what are the necessary rubrics through which to understand a contemporary, transnationalist critical feminist project? In what ways do such formations bear upon current studies in the visual arts, broadly understood (i.e., as art coming primarily from visual traditions but including sound, performance, and so on—the full panoply of contemporary art practices)?

Discussion: Cultural Production

How does transnationalist feminism help us think about cultural production in relation to new labor economies, e.g., to the increasingly feminized labor force of art servicing (including the middle and lower tiers of art history, curatorial studies, museum management), to artistic production, to “creative economies”? Given its loaded semiosis, how might we understand the formulation of “creative economies” in feminist terms? § How might the concept of “affective labor” be useful to critical feminists? Is affect a feminist concern?

May 5, 2012


Identification of patterns, nomenclatures, convergences, and differences that emerged from the previous day’s discussions. How do we work together across differences to address real issues of the status of women?

Undisciplining: Critical practices and Institutionality

How do we work together across differences to address real issues of the status of women? What are the feminist urgencies of 21st century cultural production?