I was asked to curate a show that is part of the chapter on forms of feminisms of a one-year programme about colonial legacies in contemporary societies.
Do I have to curate a feminist show?
What would it mean?
Do I have to exhibit “feminist artworks”? By “feminist artists”?
What would a feminist artwork be today?
Anything? —a tribute to Judy Chicago?
Or the documentary critical artefacts our Western art institutions have been expecting recently in lieu of artworks?
(Expected all the more so in the case of non-Western artists. Once anthropologized, the non-Western artist has to become an anthropologist to join the white cube.)
I don’t know what feminist art would be. But the lack of criticality in the way socially engaged or critical art practices typically deal with the conditions of making the artworks, and the exhibitions (who works – where, how, and why? Who decides, who has the power – where, how, and why?) is a source of despair.
We are surrounded by practices that may well generate awareness, but an awareness confined to a symbolic level.
A feminist show, then?
Maybe I have nothing feminist to say about the artworks I chose to exhibit, and these artworks may have nothing feminist to say either; I don’t ask them to, I don’t force them to.
But I believe that in the way this show came into being — in our crave for a post-patriarchal society, in our daily settlements with the effects of neoliberalism, in our desire to transform the reproductive paradigm, in our will to rethink who has the right to assess value; being workers, lovers, mothers — there is “feminism”.
Provisional statement: curating a feminist show means using a space and a position to take your part in the building of a feminist political economy.
Eva Barois De Caevel, August 2017