A Decade of Negative Thinking: THE F-WORD

Things that have made today awesome already: I got the new Artforum in the mail, a dress for Paris arrived, AND I finished reading the first section of A Decade of Negative Thinking by Mira Schor.  I must say that every essay in the first chapter I felt was worth reading, and if I had the time, I would write about every. single. one. FEMINISM. That's right.

Generation 2.5

I chose this essay because historically I've always been quick to not align myself with feminism and this essay awakened me to the generation of artists who were not recognized as feminists even though their work was a huge part of the feminist dialogue. It had not occurred to me that being a feminist artist meant lacking the appropriate recognition, which consequently changed my ideas about what it means to be a feminist.
Judith Shea

Schor begins by talking about WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution: An International Retrospective of Feminist Art from 1965 - 1980, that took place in the Brooklyn Museum, and Global Feminisms: New Directions in Contemporary Art, which took place at the Gefen Contemporary at MOCA in Los Angeles, stating that her generation of feminist artists was not included- Generatin 2.5.  This generation was the first whose members were able to embrace feminism as a path in their youth. Then, in a long paragraph she includes every feminist artist she is referring to. Schor continues by describing how fascinating and wonderful it was that elder women artists were for the first time being recognized for their gendered specificities, feminism was active and exciting, and yet choosing to ally yourself with feminism was still a rare choice. Schor continued, saying there was more incentive for women artists to align themselves with patriarchal hierarchy which made the young women who were a part of Generation 2.5 as much pioneers and outlaws as their mentors.  She goes on to explain how difficult it was and is for curators to successfully produce an all woman exhibition, that there are social and political implications that most institutions did and do not want to align themselves with. Schor states that while all the shows and exhibitions of feminist art that took place between 2006 and 2008 would have provided a comprehensive field from which other artists could be inspired, the picture created by these exhibitions is egregiously incomplete. Schor goes on to list the amount of male artists who received major exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York versus the incredibly low percentage of women who were represented the same way. Ultimately, she's arguing that the work of her generation is undervalued, stating:
 Rona Pondick

"In the 1970's, we were engaged with searching for what would be female or gendered form and content in a range of new media and unorthodox materials. The pioneer generation may have laid the foundations for a number of these tropes - clothing as metaphor, performance of the body, personal narrative, use of materials from the enculturation of femininity- but Generation 2.5 really provided the full elaboration of such tropes, emerging from the nexus formed by feminine politics.  We developed the vocabulary and the visual languages - forms and materials- and represented them, often long after pioneers had faded from active participation in the art world."
So, without spoiling the entire essay, I'll end here. I've always looked at feminist art as a specific framework, which is completely wrong. Schor lists many artists who identify as feminist, who carry the ideals and message of feminism with them in their work, yet they are not recognized as feminists. After this essay it seems unfair for me to think of feminism through a single generation's terms. Here is part of the list of artists Schor groups within Generation 2.5: "Maureen Connor,  Judith Shea, Rona Pondick, Robin Mitchell, Shirley Kaneda, Suzane Joelson, Joan Waltemath, Zoe Leonard, Rochelle Feinstein,.."

In the next chapter Schor talks about painting, how. exciting. :)

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