Cultural events sustain feminists' collective identity, recruit new women to the movement, and provide a base from which participants organize other forms of protest. More directly, cultural challenges undermine hegemonic ideology about gender by constructing new ways of being a woman that are visible to outsiders as well as insiders. Far from being non-political, such efforts are central to the survival and impact of the women's movement.
Our collaboration began in 2008 after finding that we had both been told by a number of prominent feminists from various generations that feminism is dead. We were troubled that this was their perception when we see so much life in it still. In an effort to understand this why this is the case, we began our wide-ranging artistic collaboration to publicly explore the question: what does feminism look like today?
But this question is immediately complicated by a semantic stumbling block. The predominant understanding of “feminism” is coded by a body of works, actions, and texts produced in the ‘60s and ‘70s, such that it has become nearly impossible to talk about contemporary feminism in a way that doesn’t tie it to an historical moment. The feminist practices and attitudes cultivated in the 1960s and 1970s have become the gauge by which all subsequent actions have been judged, producing a hierarchy within feminism that obscures its complicated and multifaceted relationship to the social, cultural, and political events of our own time. The focus of many of the recent, long-awaited, milestones in feminist art – from the ironically historical emphasis at MoMA’s The Feminist Futures symposium to the retroactive look of the seminal exhibition WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution – only complicate our question.
Our collaboration is an ongoing effort to find ways to transmit feminism forward. Each instantiation of our project seeks to develop techniques to incorporate a more diverse set of voices and methodologies. From language games to our ever-evolving public library of feminist books to our renegade feminist press to polling station sculptures to experimental discussions, performances, and interactive installations, our art works function as platforms to describe and preserve our movement in a way that does not retroactively erase difference, but instead makes it visible for all to see.