October 29-31

1.  Who were supporting performance artists like Ana Mendieta? Who were the audiences for these performance pieces?   Would pieces like Womanhouse hold the same meaning if exhibited now? How do Womanhouse and Ono’s Cut Piece relate to each other in terms of feminism? How do their cultural implications affect their messages?

2.  In this course thus far we have talked a lot about how it has been difficult for women to find a place for themselves in the architectural world. What factors contributed to women being able to successfully break into the field of the visual arts?

3.  After reading “Pain of Cuba, body I am,” I have to wonder if women felt the need to be more outlandish to get their message across? Did/do women have to differentiate their work more than men to gain credibility? Has it changed in the art movement since the 60s?

4.  How important was the feminist movement in influencing feminist art movement and vise versa? To what extent did they influence and support each other?

5.  How does Ana Medieta’s work and WomanHouse fit in with the international art movements of the 60’s? Were they a part of the fluxus movement or something else? Did this transition to a focus on women and feminist issues in art happen in other places around the world?

6.  Was Nam Paik actually a member of the fluxus movement? Is any of his early art considered to be a part of the fluxus movement? What is simulacrum? How exactly does Paik use this in his work (what does it mean?)?

7.  A theme that seemed to come up in both the Miriam Schapiro piece “Project Womanhouse” and Patricia Mellencamp’s “The Old and the New: Nam June Paik” was the notion of the readability and accessibility of art. Mellencamp writes of Paik’s work: “its accessibility and conceptual clarity that allow us to “get it” immediately…contribute[s] to making Paik seem overwhelming and too easy. We ordinary folks get it on some level. (Then affect was not in style.)” (43). Though Schapiro does not directly label the accessibility of Womanhouse as “too easy,” she does make it clear that the work is immediately relatable to the female audience member when she writes:

  • At Womanhouse, women, particularly, walked into what was essentially their “home ground,” knowing instinctively how to react. They cried when they saw the cosmetic performance piece. They gasped at the kitchen. They shook their heads wisely when they looked at the bridal piece. The shoe closet was familiar, the menstruation bathroom belonged to them, the stockings were theirs; and the aesthetic distance provided by the controlled environment of Womanhouse allowed them to respond with fullness to the honor, joy and beauty of the house which, in the end, was really theirs. (270)

These two quotes raise the question of whether or not the intention behind art should be so obvious. Mellencamp seems to suggest that Paik’s work is not enough of a challenge because it is so “easy” to interpret. Schapiro, on the other hand, suggests that this accessibility is what allows women to truly connect with the shared gendered experienced that is trying to be expressed in the work.

This is something that I often think about—what am I missing because a certain piece of art is too abstract? In some ways I am drawn to pieces like Ai Weiwei’s piece “Coca Cola Vase” that is a ceramic vase from the Qing Dynasty painted with Coke’s logo on the side. Ah, yes, a critique of the Era of the Corporatization of Everything that I can get on board with! I am sure the piece is more nuanced, but even I, with my untrained eye, can feel shock at the fact that he purchased and then ‘desecrated’ such an ancient object and can then can question why that is so shocking to me and work my way out of my dissonance while learning something new about my own internalization of capitalist values. It doesn’t take too much. Some of Rauschenberg’s pieces, Yoko Ono’s, and most of the artists we read about for Tuesday’s class, however, tend to leave me paralyzed with questions. Is this the intention? Should art be accessible? Or is its very inaccessibility and ambiguity the point?

8.  Did performance art (feminist and otherwise) of the 60’s receive media coverage outside of artistic/alternative social circles? Would the general public have been aware that this reimagining of artistic meaning was even taking place?

9. What was the conservative attitude during the 60′s towards avant-garde performance art, and specifically feminist performance art? Or did conservative parties really make their views known?

Questions from: Kirsten Aguilar, Elizabeth Foody, Caroline Goodwin, Hanna Mahon, Adam Schreiber

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