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  • Artelogie http://cral.in2p3.fr/artelogie/spip.php?article229

    FEMINISMUNFOLDING:NegotiatingIn/VisibilityofMexicanFeministAestheticPracticeswithinContemporaryExhibitionsErinL.McCutcheon/PhDCandidate,HistoryofArt&LatinAmericanStudiesTulaneUniversity

    Specialty:ContemporaryLatinAmericanArt,ContemporaryFeministArtPractices,

    and20thCenturyFeministTheory

    emccutch@tulane.edu

    samedi,28septembre2013/edgardvidal

    RecentgesturesinfeministandLatinAmericanexhibitionsdonotsufficientlyaccountfortheuniquepositionofLatinAmericanartistsengagingwithfeministaestheticpractices.LookingtothespacegivenMexicanartistsinthreerecentblockbusterexhibitions,Idemonstratethattheresultingcuratorialconstructionsactivatearthistoricalmythologiesthatworktofurthersolidifyexclusionfromtheinternationalartworld.Inexaminingtheeffectsthesein/visibilitieshaveoncollectiveknowledgeofLatinAmericanfeministarthistories,Iultimatelysuggestpossibilitiesforchangerootedincriticalandconceptualcartographiesthatspeakbothfromandtofeminismsfolds,activatingintergenerationalnetworksvitaltomaintainingfeminismsunfoldinghistoricalandcontemporaryrelevance.

    NegotiatingIn/VisibilityofMexicanFeministAestheticPracticeswithinContemporaryExhibitions

    Theyear1975willremainamajorhistoricalmomentofwhatisnowknownassecondwavefeminismthroughouttheworld.Thisactivity,thoughlocalizedbycountry,wasfeltacrosstheglobeaswomenfomentedpolitically,economicallyandsociallymotivatedmovementstoencouragechange.TheUnitedNationssupportedthisriseinfeministactivitywhenitnamed1975asthefirstInternationalWomansYearanddeclaredthecenterofitsactivitiestobesituatedwithinMexicoCity.Somescholarsassertthat,Mexico75isseenasthebeginningofglobaldialogongenderequality(FORSYTH,2005:p.720).

    The1970salsomarkedaglobalmergingofsecondwavefeministactionandartisticpractice,adefiningpointoffeminismandart,andthebeginningsofaninternationalfeministartproject.ThisconnectionbetweenfeminismandtheartsismostnotablydocumentedinNorthAmericaandWesternEuropehowever,artistsaroundtheworldengagedwiththesenewdialoguesaswell.LatinAmerica,andMexicoinparticular,hadanextensivefeministartisticnetworkthathasyettobefullyacknowledged.HistoricallywithinMexico,womenartistswhoidentifiedasfeministsexpressedadoubleexclusionfromboththeartworldandthefeministmovement.Theseartiststeeteredbetweenanactivelocalfeministmovementthatdismissedtheirartasbourgeois,andanartworldthatrejectedtheirfeministpoliticsasirrelevantaproblemthatremainspresenttothisday.

    Recently,interestinbothsecondwaveinternationalfeministartpracticesandmoregeneralcontemporaryartpracticesacrossLatinAmericahaveseenamajorresurgenceintheexhibitioncircuit.Theseeventsmarkimportantmomentsofglobaldialoguesinfieldsthatshareastartlinglackofcriticalengagement.Thesetrendsalsoreflectagrowingneedtodefinepositionalitythroughframinginterventionsoftherecentpastincontrasttocontemporaryproblematicsatthedawnofthe21stcentury.

    Thesecurrenttrendsinfeminist,contemporaryandLatinAmericanexhibitionsandarthistoricalscholarshipdonotaccountfortheuniquepositionofthesewomenartistsworkinginMexico.Whydoesnotonlytheinternationalartworld,butalsotheinternationalfeministartsmovement,continuetomarginalizetheseartistichistories?Tointerrogatethisproblematic,IlooktothreeimportantrecentexhibitionsthathighlightMexicanfeministaestheticpracticeintheirpresentation:Laeradeladiscrepancia:arteyculturavisualenMexico,19681997,ArteVida:ActionsbyArtistsoftheAmericas,19602000andWACK!Art&theFeministRevolution.Itismy

  • assertionthateveninitsvisibilitywithintheseblockbustershows,theresultingcuratorialconstructionsofMexicanfeministaestheticpracticesfurthersolidifytheirexclusionfromtheinternationalartworld.

    Itisnotthegoalofthisinvestigationtosuggestthattheseexhibitionswerefailures.Theyexistasambitiousandnecessaryundertakingsinfieldsofarthistorythathavehadlittleattentionpaidtothemintheexhibitioncircuit.Inordertoimprovecuratorialrepresentationsandbuildnewmethodologies,however,itisimperativethatweunpacktheproblematicsoftheseendeavors.Ratherthanallowingforidentitiesalwaysplural,performativeandrelationaltoemergethroughaconversationwiththeirpositionacrosstimeandspace,itseemsstaticdelineationsembeddedinthecuratorialselectionprocessactivatearthistoricalmythologiesthatfurtherreproduceexclusionarynarratives.

    Rootedinmillennialanxieties,theseexhibitionsarerepresentativeofalargerobstacleincontemporaryarthistoricalmemorymaking,situatedinlimitinggenealogicalandgenerationalformatsthatreinforce,ratherthanreduce,exclusions.Inexaminingtheeffectsthesein/visibilitieshaveoncollectiveknowledgeofLatinAmericanfeministvisualhistories,Iultimatelysuggestpossibilitiesforchangerootedincriticalandconceptualcartographies[1]thatspeakbothfromandtofeminismsfolds[2],activatingintergenerationalnetworksvitaltomaintainingfeminismsunfoldinghistoricalandcontemporaryrelevance.

    Feminism(s)&FeministAestheticPractices

    ThereisnotonesingleapproachtoMexicanfeminism,feministaestheticpractices,orglobalfeministaesthetics.Thereexistsnooneabsolutepoliticsthattraversetimeandspace,oronefixedmeaningtobelocatedinaperiodorlocation.Whatexistsaremultiplefeminism(s),aswellasmultiplefeministapproachestoart,inconversationwithoneanotherlocally,transnationallyandcrossgenerationally.

    Wemustavoidessentializingthecommonworldeventthatisthefeministprojectintoasingularmovementthatunitesallwomen,orfeminists,underacollectivebannerofstruggleandsharedhistory.Currently,thedominantmodeoftheorizingthehistoryoffeminismisstructuredaroundthewavemetaphor.Thesefeministwavesaregroupedalongtimeperiodsasfollows:FirstWave,late19thtoearly20thcenturySecondWave:1960tomid1980sThirdWave:1990stopresentday.Unfortunately,thisstaticallydefinedtimelineprovidesauniversalizedversionoffeministpoliticsacrosstime,ratherthananunderstandingofmultipletrajectories.MishaKavkanotes:

    Feminismisnottheobjectofasingularhistorybut,rather,atermunderwhichpeoplehaveindifferenttimesandplacesinvestedinamoregeneralstruggleforsocialjusticeandinsodoinghaveparticipatedinandproducedmultiplehistories.(KAVKA,2001:p.xvii)

    Inresistingthegenerationaldividesimposedbyfeministhistoryswavemetaphor,wecanbetterunderstandtheoverlappingaffinitiesanddivergencesexploredbyfeministpoliticsacrosstimeandspace.

    Theallowanceofmultiplefeminismsandapproachestoartopensopportunitiesforarthistoricalresearchaswell.Whilesomeartistsworkingduringthe1970sinMexicoCitymaynothavedefinedthemselvesasfeminists,theirworkstillpointstoanengagementwithfeministaestheticpractices.NellyRichardstressesthispointwhenspeakingaboutworksbyChileanartistsworkingatthesametimeasthesewomen:

    Eachmanagestosetupstrategiesofsignificantorganizationandculturalinterventioncapableofempoweringthefeminineasdissidence.Theseworksdonotassumearelationshipbetweenwomanandfemininitythatisguaranteedaprioribyanabsoluteessentialism.Insteadtheyempowerthefeminine(stilldisadvantagedamidothercodesofsocialandsexualidentity)asachangingsymbolinsearchoftherightstrategywithwhichtoplaceanalternativeandcounterdominantsubjectivityinanadvantageousposition.(RICHARD,1995:p.151)

    GriseldaPollockaffirmsasimilarnotionbystating:

  • Tobefeministatallworkmustbeconceivedwithintheframeworkofastructural,economic,politicalandideologicalcritiqueofthepowerrelationsofsocietyandwithacommitmenttocollectiveactionfortheirradicaltransformationItisfeministwhenitsubvertsthenormalwaysinwhichweviewartandareusuallyseducedintoacomplicitywiththemeaningsofthedominantandoppressiveculture.(PARKER&POLLOCK,1987:p.93)

    Itisproductivetoanunderstandingofthefeministprojecttoexaminetheseworksinrelationshiptolocalandglobalmovementsofwomenartistsconcernedwithafeministproject.Byplacingthemunderananalyticalfeministlens,wehighlighttheirattemptstochallengeanddisruptcommonperceptionsandtransformthewayinwhichweunderstandartandsociety.

    1975ElAoInternacionaldelaMujer?

    InMexicoin1975womenwere,withveryfewexceptions,invisibleasindependentartists.MnicaMayer,akeyfeministartistatthetime,relatedherexperienceattheprestigiousartschool,theEscuelaNacionaldeArtesPlsticasinMexicoCity,stating:

    ItwastherethatIbegantorealizethatwomenwereinvisible:womenartistswerenotmentionedinhistoryofartclassesandnorwerewe,aswomenstudents,giventheslightestconsideration.Mostofthelecturerssawusaswomenfirstandartistssecond.(MAYER,2010:p.5)

    Sheandotherartistswerevocalagitatorsforsimilarsocialcausesandartisticconcernsastheirfellowmalestudentshowever,thereexistedaprofoundinstitutionalandsocialdisconnectbetweenthetwo.Mayeralsostated:

    Socialliferevolvedaroundcantinas,whichareourlocalpubs,fromwhichwewerebannedbyexplicitsignsthatstated:Nomeninuniforms,nochildren,nodogs,nowomen.(MAYER,2010:p.5)

    Althoughlivingduringanageofglobalmergingoffeministactionandartisticpractice,Mexicanwomenfoundthemselves,quiteliterally,lastonthelistaswomenartists.

    MayerhassaidofthecollectiveexperiencesofwomenartistsworkingduringthistimeinMexico,itseemsasthoughweweretryingtodefinewhatfeministartmightmean(MAYER,1999:p.50).Whilenotallwouldlabelthemselvesasfeminists,itwasduringthisperiodthatartistslikeMarisBustamante,MagaliLara,RoweenaMorales,PolaWeiss,inadditiontoMayerandmanyotherswereinterrogatingthenotionthatartwasinfactanimportantmechanismforperpetuatingpatriarchalideas(MAYER,2010:p.5).HowwouldtheseartistsnegotiatethisterritorytoformaconceptoffeminismsintersectionswithartinparticularaestheticinterventionsdistinctlyoutsideofaWesternunderstandingoffeminism,whichconcentratesmainlyonmovementsinEuropeandtheUnitedStates?HowwouldthesewomencometodefinewhatfeministaestheticslookedlikeinMexicoCityduringthesecondwave?

    MayersworkactivistandartisticisintegraltothedevelopmentofthismovementwithinMexico.Mayerworkedthroughouthercareertocreateartandcurateexhibitionsthatspoketoacombinedfeministconsciousnessandvisuallanguage.Sheorganizednumerousfeministexhibitionssuchas,LoNormal(1978)andExposicincolectivadeartefeminista(1978),andworkedtobringfeministartistsfromtheUnitedSt