The following are abstracts for Feminist Ethics in the Archive Symposium Event. Part of our GENERATION programme of activity in 2014.
WOMANHOUSE and the Archive
The ‘original’ Womanhouse projects in California in the early 1970s have become highly visible projects in historical discussions of the ‘Women’s Art Movement’, and feminist art practice more generally. This paper will examine the various archival and documentation processes which have been undertaken in respect of these early Womanhouse projects, and the way in which these processes have impacted on the way in which view the Womanhouse projects today.
Feminist Resonances: Womanhouse, Los Angeles and Castlemilk Womanhouse
In this paper I investigate the connection between Womanhouse, Los Angeles and a project it inspired across the Atlantic, 20 years later: Castlemilk Womanhouse in Glasgow. I will argue that Castlemilk Womanhouse built on the earlier project’s radical potential while remaining attentive to the imperatives of its own historical moment, thus negotiating a politically relevant relationship to a feminist past.
Outlining the ways in which her art practice has previously revealed and revised certain histories, Davis will discuss her current project with Glasgow Women’s Library, HOUSE WORK CASTLE MILK WOMAN HOUSE, which is exploring the feminist ethics of generating a new archive.
Voyaging Voices: Ethical Encounters between Donor, User, Archivist, and Artist
From the viewpoint of an artist, and drawing from two specific experiences of the Glasgow Women’s Library Archive, Nicky Bird will attempt to navigate the voices embodied within these four positions, and reflect upon the ethical tensions that arise from them.
“Whose Archive is it? Why we need a history of Feminist Archives.”
Kate Dossett examines how histories of feminist archives shape contemporary practice. Understanding the historical evolution of feminist archives reminds us that what we collect and how is never a neutral or accidental act, but the result of decision making by individuals and groups whose cultural capital enabled them to collect. The histories of archives can also help us toward an ethical framework for thinking through issues of accountability, inclusion and access: as our understanding of equality, inclusion and accessibility change over time, what is at stake in how we represent earlier, and sometimes less inclusive practices of feminist collecting?
Archiving in the Cracks
My contribution will consider the Castlemilk Womanhouse archive in relation to research on feminist manifestos and social practice. It will look at the politics of memory in archives, the missing and absent parts that haunt and allow for generative speculations on what is present. In relation to missing histories the paper will consider Marysia Lewandowska’s Women’s Audio Archive alongside GWL’s pivotal collection. Comparing the different ways in which both collections rub away at the myth of the autonomous artist to reveal a different ethics of conversation and care that can support creative practice. In considering these two important traces of feminist social praxis the imperative is not to fix history via the archive but to be in conversation with it and to open up a discursive space for the future.