Giving it Time: Thoughts on the Feminist Duration Reading Group

Reckitt, Helena. 2017. 'Giving it Time: Thoughts on the Feminist Duration Reading Group'. In: Giving it Time: Thoughts on the Feminist Duration Reading Group. Calgary Contemporary, Canada 16 September 2017. [Conference or Workshop Item]

Text (Giving it Time: Thoughts on the Feminist Duration Reading Group)
PROGRAM – Never the Same_ what (else) can art writing do_.pdf

Download (122kB) | Preview
Giving It Time_Calgary Contemporary Talk_16 Sept 2017.pdf

Download (86kB) | Preview
Giving it Time_Calgary Contemporary_Art Writing Symposium_Helena Reckit_Giving it Time.pdf

Download (30MB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

As part of ‘Never the Same: what (else) can art writing do?’ at Calgary Contemporary, Helena Reckitt discussed the Feminist Duration Reading Group which has gathered in London since March 2015 to discover and discuss under-known and under-valued texts, ideas and struggles from outside the Anglo-American feminist canon.

Explaining how the group emerged from an interest in the collective exploration of recently-published texts from the Italian feminist movement of the late 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s – in a reading group that originally took place at Goldsmiths, University of London, before moving to SPACE gallery and studio complex in East London – Reckitt described the group’s key areas of focus. These include:

- Italian feminist practices and modes of thinking such as autocoscienza (consciousness raising); emotional and professional withdrawal; non-assimilation; rejection of equal rights rhetoric; relational politics; and practices of affidamento (entrustment).

- Legacies of thought, cultural activity and political practice inspired by, and in alliance with, Italian feminist practices, including the tactics of Human Strike articulated by Claire Fontaine.

- Broadening and contesting historic feminist understanding of gender binaries.

- Reorienting feminist critical, artistic and activist genealogies away from those rooted into practices dominated by, or implicitly, white or Anglo-American.

Describing the group's operations, Reckitt described its emphasis on reading texts out loud, rather than expecting participants to read texts in advance, as a way of breaking down the difference between ‘experts’ and ‘novices.’

She outlined the group’s commitment to the durational work of maintaining queer feminist histories which, in the words of art historian Amelia Jones, “reactivates them by returning them to process and embodiment — linking the interpreting body of the present with the bodies referenced or performed in the past [...].”
She also noted how the group nonetheless attempts to heed the cautionary advice of Gayatri Spivak in The Politics of Translation (1996), resisting too easy a notion of translation; trying not to iron out differences in context across time, place, culture, and language; and not being overly constrained or pre-determined by earlier positions and perspectives.

Reckitt noted that she had some concerns about how the current emphasis on discursive and ephemeral arts programming can result in non-production of lasting documents, like exhibition catalogues, which enable feminisms to be transmitted to subsequent generations.

Nonetheless, she emphasised the valuable role that the Group plays in putting time and space aside for feminism, and giving time for feminists to work together in a spirit of exchange. The emphasis on temporality, she noted, extends to the latent potential of earlier feminisms that were overlooked, under-valued, or stereotyped when they first emerged.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Lecture)

Additional Information:

The talk took place as part of ‘Never the Same: what (else) can art writing do?’, at Calgary Contemporary, a symposium from 15-17 September, 2017, organised in tandem with the exhibition ‘Extratextual.’ It was presented during the panel 'Making Space, Place and Time Through Art Writing.'

Other panelists were Dylan Robinson (writer and artist of Stó:lō descent who holds the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts at Queen’s University, Canada), Jane Rendell (British writer and theorist whose research and writing cross architecture, art, feminism, history and psychoanalysis and Professor of Architecture & Art at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL), and Sara Raza (Guggenheim UBS MAP Curator, Middle East and North Africa based at the Guggenheim Museum, New York). The panel was moderated by Susan Cahill (independent filmmaker, curator, and Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of Calgary).

Related URLs:

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



16 September 2017Completed
14 December 2017Published
16 September 2017Accepted

Event Location:

Calgary Contemporary, Canada

Date range:

16 September 2017

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

29 Sep 2017 11:11

Last Modified:

11 Aug 2023 11:36


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)