This book is troubling for me – after all I represent part of the very thing that feminists want to free themselves of; it is something that I can’t help and I feel that my words may sound hollow and vacuous. Whatever reaction I have to the work of feminists, whether visceral (a lot here for me in this book), to intellectual – some of which I have still to fathom – has an air of illegitimacy about it surely? With a recognition of the above I offer the following as a hostage to fortune.
I think that this is a comprehensive back-grounder into the oeuvre of Feminist art from essentially 1960 to the late ’90’s; think because I don’t know the movement well at all, hence my concern expressed in the opening paragraph. The survey sets out to classify the various forms of feminist art, photographic, sculptural, fine art, performance and installation; whilst the main body of the book provides portraits of a great many artists, separated into sections dealing with the development of feminist art and how the contemporaneous nature of the debate affected how these artists engaged with their practices.
It is difficult to single out any particular pieces to discuss here, rather it will become a reference and starting point to look further into. But some of the work that I found instantly moving were:
Joan Semmel’s 1974 oil on canvass “Intimacy-Autonomy” here
And Marina Abramovic’s performance piece “Rhythm 0” here
I appreciate I have a lot to do here; to work out why I wasn’t aware of most of the artists in this work, a few of the photographers I recognised, some of the fine art as well; but overall pitifully few.Where to begin? Well as the Chairman said, even the longest journey starts with the smallest step.