Abstracts‎ > ‎

Angela Dimitrakaki

Feminist Politics and Institutional Critiques: Imagining a Curatorial Commons

CLICK HERE for shortened version of the presentation (in Estonian cultural weekly Sirp)

Concerned more with the future than the past of feminism and curating in post-socialist Europe, this paper presents a theoretical proposition. The thesis emerges from what is, perhaps, an unorthodox interpretation of the conference title, Common Differences: Issues for Feminist Curating in Post-Socialist Europe: that today feminist curating takes place in a Europe – stretching from East to West and North to South – where governments promote and impose a social reality devoid of socialism. Indeed, aggressive privatisation, intensified in the context of the global financial crisis, is making women steadily poorer. In some respects, it follows that the main issue for feminist curating in post-Socialist Europe is how to overcome this ideology of ‘post’– how to re-imagine, mediate and legitimate the prospect of a transnational socialist vision as a feminist politics. Curating seems an appropriate field for dealing with this issue because of its relationship with capitalist institutions whose role becomes apparent when they regulate art. What these institutions primarily do is ensure that art remains implicated in a competitive race for resources and visibility (which also translates to profit for the few, precarity for the many). Yet curatorial agency can undermine existent institutional policies, be more aware of funding issues (who funds what and why), encourage a practice of art that is less dependent on the art institution as such, and generate grass-roots formations that facilitate the realisation of art as social(ist) praxis. This paper explores the scenario where feminist curating develops a self-consciousness as anti-capitalist institutional critique – or taking things further, it understands feminist curating as necessarily a form of institutional critique at a global moment when capital is invested heavily in the administrative ethos and regulatory function of institutions. Moreover, this critique can be pluralised and diversified so as to be inclusive and investigative of alternative positions that may converge towards the articulation of a common space of resistance without demanding one-way solutions. In short, this paper asks: How can feminist politics contribute to a curatorial commons as a gesture against cultural-economic antagonisms, and what positions can be facilitated through sharing our experiences rather than reading them as against each other?

Angela Dimitrakaki (PhD) is lecturer in contemporary art history at the University of Edinburgh. Recent publications include ‘Researching Cultures and the Omitted Footnote: Questions on the Practice of Feminist Art History’ in Amelia Jones, ed, The Feminism and Visual Culture Reader, 2nd edition, Routledge 2009, ‘The Spectacle and Its Others: Labour, Conflict and Art in the Age of Global Capital’ in Jonathan Harris, ed, Globalization and Contemporary Art, Wiley-Blackwell 2011 and ‘The Art Biennial as Symptom’ in Pilar Parcericas and Joacquin Barriendos, eds, Global Circuits: The Geography of Art and the New Configurations of Critical Thought, Acca 2011. She has recently completed a book on globalisation and art in her native Greek (Hestia 2011) and is currently writing Gender, Art/Work and the Global Imperative: A Materialist Feminist Critique, forthcoming from Manchester University Press. She is co-editor with Lara Perry of Politics in A Glass Case: Exhibiting Women’s and Feminist Art, forthcoming from Liverpool University Press.