Feminist Emergency: The art field

Lloyd, Kirsten; Dimitrakaki, Angela; Perry, Lara; Jefferis, Kerri; Robinson, Hilary; Reckitt, Helena and UNSPECIFIED. 2017. 'Feminist Emergency: The art field'. In: Feminist Emergency: The art field. Birkbeck, University of London, United Kingdom 23 June 2017. [Conference or Workshop Item]

Feminist Emergency Breakout Sessions_19_June.pdf

Download (229kB) | Preview
Feminist Emergency_Keynote and Panels_19_June.pdf

Download (215kB) | Preview
Feminist Emergency_Programme_19_June.pdf

Download (282kB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

Helena Reckitt contributed to the breakout session ‘The art field,’ moderated by Angela Dimitrakaki (Edinburgh College of Art) and moderated by Kirsten Lloyd, as part of the three-day Feminist emergency conference at Birkbeck, University of London, 22nd – 24th June 2017. Other instigators were Kerri Jefferis (artist), Lara Perry (University of Brighton), and Hilary Robinson (Middlesex University).

Panel convenor Angela Dimitrakaki framed the session by noting how, as elsewhere under neoliberal governance, the art field is affected by the normalisation of precarity and austerity and the ‘feminisation’ of labour, even if art is still seen as a terrain for the privileged or, ultimately, of marginal relevance to ‘real world’ emergencies. Art workers are accustomed to suppressed or missing wages and reside at the bottom of the art pyramid; over 3/4 of art students, but 1/2 of art school lecturers, 1/3 of professors, and 1/3 of exhibiting artists; we legitimise antagonism in supporting business-oriented institutions from the museum as a collecting facility to art schools as hubs for entrepreneurial ideology; we participate in a degraded higher education often based on fees, debt, and rampant competition; we have achieved no consensus on whether artworks can be a site of oppositional politics as the structures and institutions in which artworks are encountered, and even produced, are often held responsible for affirming the status quo; our struggles are ridiculed as ‘political correctness’ or delusional utopianism; there is much uncertainty over forms of collective opposition; always short of time; our alternative formations and collectives are hard to sustain; we make do. Is it time to see these conditions as a feminist emergency?

The session posed the questions: What does it mean to live, work and struggle as feminists today? Is there really a feminist ‘we’ in the art field in 2017?

Following brief introductory comments from the speakers, designed to instigate debate, discussions primarily focussed on structures of work in the art, educational, and academic sectors, rather than art works or their production per se. Issues explored included cultural and academic work under neoliberalism; ways of accessing institutional resources; collective power v. general lack of power; subterfuge and anonymity as feminist tactics; and the shrinking access to art through 'public' education.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Talk)

Additional Information:

Feminist Emergency took place at Birkbeck, University of London, 22nd – 24th June 2017. It was organised by Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities in collaboration with British Comparative Literature Association, Birkbeck Gender and Sexuality (BiGS), the Birkbeck Institute for Social Research, and Mapping Maternal Subjectivities, Identities and Ethics (MaMSIE).

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



15 May 2017Accepted
23 June 2017Completed

Event Location:

Birkbeck, University of London, United Kingdom

Date range:

23 June 2017

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

29 Sep 2017 11:09

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:35



View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)