Saturday 1 September at 3pm
Chaired by Jo Holder with Deborah Kelly, Catriona Moore, Jacqueline Millner and Virginia Fraser
Feminage frames collage as one aspect of the diverse legacy of feminist art practice. The title re-inflects US artist Miriam Schapiro’s art historical slogan to further complicate the terms ‘collage’ and ‘half-century of feminist practice’ and is an anchor to the continuing legacy of feminism, gay rights and conceptual art.
The Feminage exhibition is the first in a series of annual thematic exhibitions that also serve as platforms to discuss a proposed new National Feminist Art Exhibition in March 2015. (The second theme is ‘Feminist Humour’ and the third is ‘Feminist Insurrections’.) This is also a call-out. How would you design or propose a National Feminist Art Exhibition for March 2015 that reviews and presents simultaneously some of the decades of feminist art practice?
Two decades ago, art historian Joan Kerr’s three-part women's art project was launched on the 20th Anniversary of International Women's Year at the National Gallery of Australia. The project celebrated the thematic and collaborative book Heritage: The national women's art book, 500 works by 500 Australian women artists from colonial times to 1955. The accompanying National Women's Art Exhibition was envisaged as a 'great imaginary exhibition'. Ultimately it comprised more than 150 exhibitions of both historical and contemporary art by women. This opened on the same day with 'Women hold up half the world' at the National Gallery. The final part was an anthology of commissioned texts, extracts from catalogue essays, Past Present: The national women's art anthology (edited by Joan Kerr and Jo Holder).
Earlier this year at the AAANZ conference, Catriona Moore and Kelly Doley presented a paper, 'Contemporary Australia Feminism', reviewing generational perspectives. They problematised their view that much feminist thinking is seemingly comfortably absorbed into the post-modern movement. There was furious agreement that the statistical neglect over the past twenty years continues. Catriona’s talk was about statistics, statistical redress and how this extends to the institutional neglect of feminist thinking and aesthetics.
The speakers have spent many years working on written or exhibition projects relating to feminist aesthetics, history or art practice: Jacqueline Millner’s Conceptual Beauty: Writings on Australian contemporary art 1994-2009, (2010); Catriona Moore’s Indecent Exposures: Australian Feminist Photography 1970-1990, (1994); and Virginia Fraser edited a book about Australian women: Photographs by Carol Jerrems (1974), all ‘classic’ works on Australian feminist art history and aesthetics.
Deborah Kelly has generously agreed to a recitation of her celebrated radio piece 'Whistling Woman and Crowing Hen'. Kelly Doley and Brown Council are down the road baking at the CWA’s state headquarters for Performance Space’s 'Halls for Hire' project.
Of course, our activities, writings and exhibitions are pretty local when put against what is being called the global development of 'femibusters' — in Tokyo, Paris, Rome, New York and more recently Julie Ewington’s Australia Woman exhibition at GOMA in Brisbane. Several speakers, however, noted the neglect and not-so-subtle marginalisation of even the femibuster genre show.