Call for Papers: Against the Canon. Art, Feminism(s), and Activism XVIII to XXI Centuries. Porto Alegre, 17-19 October 2019

Fundação Bienal do Mercosul – Bienal 12 Porto Alegre

Instituto de Artes, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, UFRGS

Curso de Artes Visuais, Universidade Estadual do Rio Grande do Sul, UERGS

Center for Latin American Visual Studies, The University of Texas at Austin, CLAVIS / UT

The history of art has been written from perspectives and tastes that constituted a predominantly patriarchal canon of art. As the Guerilla Girls asked and pointed out: “Do women have to be naked to get into the Museum of Art of São Paulo? Only 6% of the artists in the collection are women, but 60% of the nudes are female.” This artist collective, formed in the United States in 1985, offers us posters with percentages that characterize the collections and exhibitions of all the museums of the world. Women are marginalized in the art world despite forming the demographic majority. In their different ways, feminist artists have intervened in the logic that articulates the canon of art. At first, they did so subtly; at the moment, their accusations and actions have taken force, accompanying, amplifying and activating the growing wave of international feminism.

To transform the world through art: such is the desire that fueled artistic activism during the long twentieth century. Feminist activism is, mainly, the voice of a general contempt for the male power that regulates the state of the world and art. It is an activism that operates from the realization of images, actions and critical discourses that intervene on the forms of power to erode it. We hijack this system when we participate in social struggles or when we render the invisibility of women in the art world visible. Since at least the eighteenth century we can find dissenting voices. They are voices that take a position on the status of women in general, on gender and sexuality regulations and on women artists in particular. Performing an archeology of Western culture, comments on art can be found in the writings of Germaine de Staël, Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, Marie d’Agoult or B., attentive to the instruction of women based on their emancipation and even, as can be seen in the writings of Johanna von Haza, a questioning of gender and race identities.

Since the late 1960s, feminist artists have inscribed a specific and radical chapter in postwar art. Their aesthetic proposals strategically stirred the patriarchal bases of taste and connoisseurship to work with techniques and materials sidelined by the hierarchical repertoire of Great Art (textiles, lace, embroidery, ceramics, porcelain, glitter, enamel–all marginalized by the dominant vocabulary of painting and sculpture), or with feminine themes (domestic space, maternity, abject body fluids). Feminist artists have staged rebellions of language and of iconography as spaces of activism: from the affirmation that the personal is political, to the denouncement of abuses, rapes and physical and psychological violence against women. These revolts form the core of the contemporary agenda, in which the fight against femicides is central, as are rights over one’s body.

The general aims of the seminar are:

  1. Analyze case studies (for example, the analysis of a single work based on research in primary sources and archives) to reveal points of contact and divergence between the strategies followed by comparable artistic feminism(s).
  2. Propose critical genealogies and maps of local, regional and global feminism(s).
  3. Share theoretical and methodological approaches that allow us to visualize the specificity of these interventions and their negotiations with the dominant culture(s).
  4. Discuss the transformations that have occurred in recent years from exhibitions of women artists or focused on queer/cuir and trans subjectivities, as well as the reactions they produced in the form of debate, demonstrations or different forms of censorship.

Proposals are welcomed from doctorate and master students, graduates, professors, curators and cultural and artistic activists.

The conference languages ​​will be Portuguese, Spanish and English.Deadline for submitting proposals: 1 March 2019.

The paper can be written and presented in Portuguese, Spanish or English..

Abstract of 800 words in Portuguese, Spanish and English, and a brief bio, also in Portuguese, Spanish, and English of no more than 60 words.

The proposal will be considered submitted when the author receives a confirmation of receipt by email.

Presentation of proposals: seminario.internacional@bienalmercosul.art.brt

The full call for papers is available here.

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