Forgotten Relations: Feminist Artists and Relational Aesthetics

Reckitt, Helena. 2013. Forgotten Relations: Feminist Artists and Relational Aesthetics. In: Angela Dimitrakaki and Lara Perry, eds. Politics in a Glass: Case Feminism, Exhibition Cultures and Curatorial Transgressions. 7 Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, pp. 131-156. ISBN 9781846318931 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

The article discusses the absence of feminist art or gendered analysis within accounts of relational art, a phenomenon that is especially problematic given how closely relational aesthetics emulates and draws upon forms of under-valued feminized labour. The essay argues that Nicolas Bourriaud, the curator responsible for propogating the concept of relational aesthetics, reiterates capitalist exploitation of those who work directly for capitalism, by creating surplus value, as well as domestic labourers of social reproduction who don’t. It discusses important early artistic explorations of the unrecognized role of maintenance labour in sustaining the museum in the art of Mierle Laderman Ukeles, and how her work was revisited in the early 1990s by the artist Janine Antoni. Broadening from Bourriaud’s aversion to identity-based politics, the essay explores the gender-based prejudices that have influenced the reception of stereotypically ‘women’s work’ in the artworld. The essay concludes by discussing recent curatorial efforts both to highlight service-based art by feminists and to account for the increased importance of affective labour within the current precarious cultural economy.

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July 2013Published

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Date Deposited:

13 Jun 2012 20:19

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26 Jan 2021 15:44


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