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Jul 02 2010

Blu r5rgh

My coffee table feminist art book

Fig. 72. Jilroy Frosting. Self-Portrait with Feminist Coffee Table Art Book. 1987. Megapixels and cellulose on mylar. 3″ x 3″.

This coffee table feminist art book has Nancy Spero’s 1971 Codex Artaud VI on the cover. If it alludes to Antonin “Jet of BloodArtaud, it’s gotta be art.

If there’s one thing a spinster aunt can count on an Art Week to accomplish, it’s this: swollen lobes. Some Savage Death Islanders, voluntarily considering Art and Feminism, have lifted up their hearts and sung, and the chorus is this: “it’s not art if I don’t like it.”

I get it! Like, if you are unenthusiastic about 2008 Chicken Butt Viognier, and somebody hands you a glass at the taco-tasting party, you don’t say, “this damned Chicken Butt is too green and minerally to pair well with smoked avocado tacos.” You merely state that it isn’t wine. End of discussion. Talk to the hand. Well, perhaps you insinuate that wine is elitist first.

So. Certain Internet aunts might view talk-to-the-hand as a pretty self-absorbed, and not terribly compelling, argument, particularly in terms of an intellectual atmosphere conducive to feminist revolt, but maybe it’s merely indicative of the zeitgeist of 21st century feminism. Our ism has been decimated, ladies. Decimated by unceasing attacks from outside the ranks, by internecine feuds, by the Spice Girls, by knobjectivists blogging that feminism is a fucking buzzkill, by the massive popularity of recreational sexism in consumer pop culture, by spinster aunts, and by other stuff. Even spinster aunts don’t bother calling it a “movement” anymore, except with a sardonic lip-curl. Everyone has her own feminism now.

New! [Your Fantasy Feminism Here], tailored to your own unique lifestyle!

Well, we’ll see how far that takes us.

25 comments

1 ping

  1. sargassosea

    Just fucking full-on WORD.

  2. nails

    Weird. I was recently reading a chomsky.info article that is weirdly similar (except that it was about cognitive science and anarchist “movements” instead of art/feminism). Still, good shit.

    http://chomsky.info/interviews/20100312.htm

  3. CassieC

    But what about Emma Goldman?

  4. Sarah

    Honestly, I don’t know much about art, but what I can say is that when my eyes were ripped open to the wonderful world of patriarchy, a whole lotta art got ruined – literature, film, theater, what-have-you. Almost all of it, ruined for me. But it’s better to walk around fully awake and pissed off than asleep and complacent in my own subjugation.

  5. humanbein

    The idea that everyone has their own unique and more perfect version of feminism than anyone else is absolutely unbearable. There is one rock solid foundation that feminism should have in the minds of anyone who uses the term: Freedom from sexual oppression.

    Can we all at least agree to that much?

  6. bbz

    Nope. Don’t have to LIKE it. But still contend that “ART” must connect head, heart, hands, intent… in a meaningful way.
    Meaning, by meaningful, to communicate causation. A twitch, someplace in your being.

    Women as decoration? Why the hell not. Look how the Nieces made Psmith decorative. They could probably render a pshrimp salad decorative too, given enough pink fluorescent paint.

    Ah, for the good old days, when the red stockings broke from the blue stockings and all good teen feminists wore Birkenstocks. The shoes on women today makes my biddy heart break. Zero progress made. ZERO.

    May this Defeatist Non-Blamer participate? Here at Blandings Castle in the Pines, when a lobe starts to swell, we prefer to simply chill a good dry champagne, curl up in a ball and ring for Jeeves to apply cool compresses.

  7. Hattie

    Isn’t art all about naked ladies?

  8. Dawn Coyote

    Strictly from a logophilic point of view, this paragraph

    “So. Certain Internet aunts might view talk-to-the-hand as a pretty self-absorbed, and not terribly compelling, argument, particularly in terms of an intellectual atmosphere conducive to feminist revolt, but maybe it’s merely indicative of the zeitgeist of 21st century feminism. Our ism has been decimated, ladies. Decimated by unceasing attacks from outside the ranks, by internecine feuds, by the Spice Girls, by knobjectivists blogging that feminism is a fucking buzzkill, by the massive popularity of recreational sexism in consumer pop culture, by spinster aunts, and by other stuff. Even spinster aunts don’t bother calling it a “movement” anymore, except with a sardonic lip-curl. Everyone has her own feminism now.”

    makes me want to lay down and roll around in it.

  9. yttik

    There’s a guy who wrote a book called “The Shallows, What The Internet is Doing to Our Brains.” The first thing I thought when I heard about it was, “Dude! You haven’t been over to Twisty’s place, have you?” I don’t think there is a shallow end.

    Take heart Twisty, the rumors of feminism’s demise have been highly over blown. Feminism has died so many times we try to break it down so as not to confuse ourselves, first wave, second wave, third wave, post feminism. Humanbein wants a foundation of feminism firmly established and asks, “Can we all at least agree to that much?” No, no we can’t, because it’s flexible, ever evolving and changing. But it’s also incredibly simple, so simple in fact that it doesn’t need rules and bylaws and principles. We all know it when we see it. And when we don’t.

    Further Adventures of The Dialectic of Sex will be released Aug 3
    http://www.amazon.com/Further-Adventures-Dialectic-Sex-Shulamith/dp/0230100295

  10. Alexa

    Sarah, gee can I say ‘snap’. I can barely enjoy any work of anything, it feels insane like the whole world is created on lies and female bashing. You ever seen the matrix – I love that film. A simple question: the blue pill or the red? Once you take the pill there’s no going back.

  11. Alexa

    I usually create my own feminism because it’s easier than being shouted down when I haven’t considered other types of oppressions/ made my oppression trivial. Mainstream feminism expects me to compromise my anger, so I prefer to remain a lonely radfem blowing in the wind. Everyone plays a part in the patriarchy, including mainstream feminists trying to hide our anger, knock women back by laughing with the oppressor. All we have is our anger, a knowledge of the patriarchy, our hatred. Yes I’m going to be swallowed by the patriarchy (inevitable) but I’ll have left a toxic poison in its throat.

  12. Sarah

    Alexa, will you be my best friend?

    Actually, will all of you please just stop whatever it is you’re doing, and move to my town right away? That way, I can stop feeling like the only person in the meatworld who notices that the main female character in Movie X exists only to provide a vapid sounding board for the “real” main character – the male; or who knows without a shadow of a doubt that the anti-woman vitriol in many (most?) male-authored novels is not an accident. It doesn’t come from the characters, crafted oh-so-lovingly from the ether, but from the author himself, who is incapable of separating his woman-hatred from the world in which he lives. I cannot enjoy this art anymore than I could enjoy the Holocaust Memorial Museum — I’ll watch, or read, or look, but only as an instructive in humanity’s cruelty and capacity for obliviousness. I do it for a peek behind the mask of civility, into the hideous gears of oppression. To remind myself, I suppose, of what I’m up against.

  13. Ashley

    It’s not about the Spice Girls. Some of us just think art is a major Patriarchal Institution.

    Doesn’t mean some shit ain’t great to look at. But even the fact that a select section of shit is singled out as artistic is representative of the fact that there are norms for frickin everything in patriarchy, including what you’re sposed to enjoy seeing.

  14. La Chica Lucy

    If someone handed me a glass of 2008 Chicken Butt Viognier at a* taco-tasting party, I would politely nod as I simultaneously, and not-so-politedly, stuffed my face with smoked avocado tacos. “Talk to the hand” in this instance would really mean “excuse me for not commenting on your sommelier skills as I’ve been told it’s not polite to speak with one’s mouth full, and, please, ferfucksake, pass me another napkin.”

    * Jill, you wrote “the” taco-tasting party as if such parties are not special occasions. That is a good place to be, taco-wise.

    And while “Self-Portrait with Feminist Coffee Table Art Book” is indeed intriguing, it has not inspired ME to take up art. Your nieces, however, have me seriously considering picking up the ol’ bingo blotters again, but this time working outside the cards.

    All of this talk of art, when you get down to it, is outrageous and very maddening, especially given the individual aspects of modern feminism that make revolution a dim possibility at best. I choose my choice, indeed. Divided and conquered. IBTP.

  15. Pinko Punko

    Every week of “So Think You Can Dance” strikes me as a culture of where an ultra-sexified woman is tossed around like a rag doll with lots of heterocentric role playing of extreme dominance and stereotyping but lots of times visually very striking and amazingly performed, so pretty much the art that we’ve been talking about. Art very much underlining and advertising the culture whence it sprung.

  16. Jezebella

    Perhaps we can summarize Art Week and Science Week with the Venn Diagram of Art and Science, herewith: http://www.cafepress.com/vennartsci

  17. eilish

    When Men who are Important say one sensible thing and a whole lot of other stupid stuff, we can still value that one sensible thing. We should do that with women, more.

    The biggest problem with “everyone has their own feminism now” is we waste energy arguing with each other, while patriarchy carries on as normal. I do not despair though: everyone has been having their own feminism for centuries. Caroline Norton helped to achieve divorce and property rights for women, but dipped out on suffrage. The suffragettes dipped out on pacifism. Everyone dipped out in the fifties. We are still going forward.

  18. Zef

    I like your style, eilish.

    It’s like my old art teacher used to say: even if you think the picture is absolutely horrible, if you’re going to comment on it you absolutely must find one thing you like, or “get” from it, to pair with your ego-shattering criticism. Unless you really truly can’t, in which case it’s not art so why bother.

  19. yttik

    It’s a good point eilish.

    Both Mary Daly and Shulamith Firestone have their own feminism and yet it’s only on the surface that these two appear to hold opposing views. If you dig a little deeper, they’re just examining different parts of the same beast and heading in the same direction.

    The patriarchy demands dominance and submission, so in this framework everything must be opposing itself. For example, they’d like us to view burkas in Afghanistan as completely opposite of scantily clad women as sex commodities, when in reality it’s just two versions of the exact same thing. The same old crap.

    We absolutely should value that “one sensible thing” in women even more. We’re very critical of women, we expect perfection and are likely to dismiss them if they show any flaws what so ever. This is something we can refuse to do, holding women to such a high standard that we’re unlikely to ever find one that meets it. We should constantly aim to cut women some slack.

  20. Alexa

    Yttik as usual speaks a strangely high amount of sense. Feminism is like no other movement for the responsibility we all pile on each others shoulders. I absolutely agree – we should always aim to let women off the hook.

    Elish is right – it takes one woman to generalise the whole lot of us, or a woman to slip up once to dismiss her whole work, for men vice versa.

    When we pull each other down there’s always that sneaking element of women bashing (imo). Just like how our culture sees us as annoying uncool others, that’s how we’ve learnt to see ourselves. We chat with other feminists accordingly. We should have learnt by now to fuck culture!

  21. Alexa

    Not telling you guys off, here we make a bunch of relative geniuses who are a million light years ahead of the rest of the world. Sarah you guys are all my best friends (in my head, which works fine for me).

  22. KH

    One of my favorite things I like to say when confronted with art I don’t like is that the work is lazy, bad, uninventive art, and that its primary weakness is that it depends on the tired trope of male privilege for its dubious successes (if any).

    This is the most fun when I get to say it in the role of an art teacher, and then follow up with examples of better works from the emerging canon of feminist artists. Really, it can be joyous. For extra fun, I like to point out the instances in which feminist artists did various new media first, before Dude X got credit for it. It can shock the youth.

    Pro-tip to for art week: one wouldn’t have the pleasure of flatly dismissing bad art without first ceding that it is, in fact, art.

  23. Jezebella

    KH, I am putting that in my pocket for future critiques: “depends on the tired trope of male privilege for its dubious successes.” That’s a tasty one.

    It’s always fun to teach Eva Hesse before getting to the big boys of the 60s, innit?

  24. La Chica Lucy

    Speaking of smoked avocado tacos, how about Food Week? Cooking is science and/or art! And there are all sorts of ethical issues surrounding the whole business – it certainly won’t be boring. And maybe we can swap some taco and/or marg recipes to boot.

  25. Jill

    how about Food Week?

    Are you sure? Because I’ll tell you right now, a Food Week’ll get uglier than Science Week and Art Week combined.

  1. pandagon.net - it's the eye of the panda, it's the thrill of the bite

    [...] major issue, which is that exploiting children isn’t right no matter what you call it.  Twisty gets right to the heart of this dilemma: I get it! Like, if you are unenthusiastic about 2008 Chicken Butt Viognier, and somebody hands [...]

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