Female Entropy: Social Reproduction as Problem and Medium

Vishmidt, Marina. 2019. Female Entropy: Social Reproduction as Problem and Medium. In: Sophia Yadong Hao, ed. Of Other Spaces: Where Does Gesture Become Event? Berlin: Sternberg Press/MIT. ISBN 9783956793783 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

This essay will approach the optic of “reproduction” in feminist theory and politics from two sides. The first will depart from the discussion of social reproduction, which has visibly risen to the top of the agenda of materialist feminisms from Marxist to intersectional perspectives, which is as a specific modality of gendered, racialized, and often unwaged labour. The second will start from the sense in which “social reproduction” can be taken as the “reproduction of the conditions of production,” as discussed by Louis Althusser. This latter sense refers to the continuum between reproduction of “life” (the maintenance of individuals) and what is more generally categorized as the “economic” (social production). These two approaches to the question of reproduction will then be used to open a path to a sample of historical and contemporary art practices; whether they are readable in terms of a feminist optic of reproduction as a spectrum of gendered tasks or rather perform the impasses of a kind of social “non-reproduction” that belongs to the second type, with the social reproduction perspective as a type of institutional or, rather, infrastructural critique. That is, a critique of conditions rather than of representations. Both types of work will be situated between the 1970s and the present. Through these two ways of looking at “reproduction,” I'd like to trace a politics of subjectivity as they reflect both the strategic affirmations and refusals of identity endemic to all movements of the oppressed, in which art does not behave simply as a mediating institution, but an iterative one, a reproductive institution in its own right: on the one hand a site of inventive and self-determined forms of work, on the other an institution traversed by class relations and thus class struggle.

Item Type:

Book Section


feminism, art theory, art history, social reproduction

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


November 2018Accepted
November 2019Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

08 Jan 2021 15:55

Last Modified:

28 Jul 2021 15:43



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