The Art of Feminism: How To Move From ‘I’ To ‘we’

reading groupTuesday 11 September '18

ArtEZ Arnhem, theatrium, theatre 2(archive)

An evening for scholars, activists and (aspiring) artists to explore notions of ‘I’ and ‘we’ in relation to collectivity and to propose movement towards solidarity and alliance. Curated by Krista Jantowski and ArtEZ studium generale, within the context of the reading group The Art of Feminism.

With: Adeola Enigbokan (researcher), Lara Staal (moderator), Simon(e) van Saarloos (writer), Pelumi Adejumo (student Creative Writing), Eva Prakken (alumnus Creative Writing) and others.

Authenticity, individuality or if you move in art circles autonomy, or put more simply doing your own thing: our vocabulary is overflowing with expressions concerning being oneself. The internet is filled with motivational speeches that stress being the ‘real you’, self-help isles in bookstores are stocked with books claiming to help you find ‘yourself’. Within neoliberal capitalist society, personal authenticity has become highly profitable. This desire for personal authenticity is ofcourse also rooted in modern Western politics, with the right riding high on the idea of personal responsibility and ‘stable identities’, and the left promoting the idea of a society in which each individual can live a meaningful life.

The personal or the particular is also closely linked to feminist movements. Most obviously, the famous slogan of the student and feminist movement in the 1960s ‘the personal is political’ underscored the connections between personal experience and political structures. Moreover, the introduction of intersectionality, firmly rooted in the black feminist movement, provided an analytical framework to call to attention the particular but interlocking ways power is experienced along the lines of race, class, gender and sexuality. There also almost seems to be a direct need for the personal to gain broader recognition for collective struggles, with certain key figures lodged securely in our brain as representatives of social struggle.

During How To Move From ‘I’ To ‘we’, we contemplate the notion of the self in relation to collectivity in times of a particularly aggressive brand of individualism. How do these seemingly contrasting notions of individuality and collectivity move together with feminism? Where and when does the reliance on the self pose problems in terms of solidarity? And with regards to institutions such as the art academy, representing a particularly fixed idea of collectivity, how to create flexibility, how to listen and how to rebuild? We invite scholars, activists and artists to explore the interconnectedness of feminist issues and to propose movement – towards solidarity and alliance.

This program is the kick off of the reading group The Art of Feminism by ArtEZ Studium Generale, WALTER books and Mister Motley in a new academic year. Initiated early 2018, it started with a reading and discussion of the immensely popular We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Adichie, followed by Living A Feminist Life by Sara Ahmed. These two books are, in their own way, concerned with the collective. The first considering feminism as a concern for all who recognize “there’s a problem with gender as it is today”, the latter locating feminism and feminist work in the everyday world.

With this program, we move along this line of thought further. You are happily invited to move with us, dance with us or gesture us in different directions during our next reading sessions. For a schedule and indication of what we will be reading, see the Agenda.

ADEAOLA ENIGBOKAN’s lecture focuses on individual feminist identity; when and why do we (or don’t we) describe ourselves as feminist? Departing from her own position, she will question different individual positions towards feminism and explore their interconnectedness.

SIMON(E) VAN SAARLOOS moves the question further along this line of thought and focuses on the ‘we’; how to move to an active recognition of interconnectedness, how to establish a ‘we’ and what can solidarity offer?

After these two lectures, both speakers will engage in a conversation with LARA STAAL on entangled ways of thinking, doing and working within a feminist context, in- and outside of the art academy.

During this program, students and alumni of ArtEZ will present their perspective in the form of their work or will interject with questions or propositions.