Opening a Closing Door: Feminist and Queer Artists as Historians
Reckitt, Helena. 2009. Opening a Closing Door: Feminist and Queer Artists as Historians. Reading Room: A Journal of Art and Culture, pp. 88-103. [Article]
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Opening A Closing Door : Feminist and Queer Artists as Historians
Considering the interest in the history of feminism, and particularly in female and feminist artists, in the work of feminist and queer artists, this essay considers the archival turn within recent projects by artists including Emily Roysdon, K8 Hardy, Wynne Greenwood and their work with and independently of LTTR, Luis Jacob, Oliver Plender, Kajsa Dahlberg, Sharon Hayes and Paulina Olowska. Too young to participate in the women’s liberation movement at their height, these artists forge affective connections to important precursors that exceed citation or homage. They know that they cannot reproduce earlier times faithfully or return to a coherent past. Rather than enacting the one-to-one identifications of identity politics, this art spans gender, race and generation. Women and gay male artists channel female artistic icons work while lesbians “strap on” elements of gay male culture. They pillage collective archives to update and replenish them. The American artist Mary Kelly’s 2005-07 series Love Songs is cited for its examination of feminist mentorship and inheritance, of what survives after a historical movement is over, and how radical movements can nonetheless affect those who encounter them, however belatedly. Exploring processes of channelling the past, a number of artists considered posit re-enactment as a way to bridge generation and – on occasion - gender. I touch on Elizabeth Freeman’s ideas of ‘temporal drag’, with its play on anachronism, awkwardness and inappropriateness, as a way to explore such identifications.
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