Acting out

Performing feminisms in the contemporary art museum

Authored by: Rachael Haynes , Courtney Pedersen

The Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Feminism

Print publication date:  May  2019
Online publication date:  May  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138845114
eBook ISBN: 9781315728346
Adobe ISBN:


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The position that feminist art holds within the art museum is complex and often contradictory. As Meaghan Morris pointed out, feminism “is not easily adapted to heroic progress narratives.” There is a very real danger that when absorbed into the museum exhibition, feminist art can become a historicizing category, framed as a singular movement rather than a currently relevant set of strategies. The alternative would be the presentation of feminism as a set of living practices. Since 2010, the feminist artist collective LEVEL has been involved in a range of activities designed to reinvigorate the discussion of women’s position in the art world and society more broadly. LEVEL was commissioned to provide a public program as part of the WAR IS OVER! (IF YOU WANT IT): YOKO ONO exhibition held at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) in late 2013. This paper discusses the design of that project as an attempt to move beyond the script of feminism as a historical moment and back to the lived experience of feminist art as political understanding and social engagement.

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