Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists? Linda Nochlin

(for Greek version scroll down)

In 1971, when Linda Nochlin published her essay “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” in a special issue of Art News, there were no women’s studies, no feminist theory, no such thing as feminist art criticism; there was instead a focus on the mythic figure of the great (male) artist through history. -…- Thirty years after raising the question, Nochlin returned to the issue of women artists when she presented her paper, “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?  Thirty Years Later” as part of a conference at Princeton University “Women Artists at the Millennium.”




Στην ερώτηση, και τίτλο του άρθρου της, ‘Γιατι δεν υπήρξαν σπουδαίες γυναίκες καλλιτέχνιδες’ η Linda Nochlin, το 1971, απαντάει προβληματοποιώντας τη φύση της ερώτησης και σημειώνοντας ότι καθώς η τέχνη δεν είναι μια ελεύθερη, αυτόνομη δραστηριότητα, είναι άμεσα συνδεδεμένη με τις κοινωνικές δομές που καθορίζονται από τα ιδρύματα, από τις ακαδημίες τέχνης, από τις εκάστοτε μυθολογίες περί «σπουδαίου καλλιτέχνη». Η ιστοριο-γραφία της τέχνης δημιουργείται, αναλύεται, αξιολογείται, καταγράφεται, διαμεσολαβείται εν γένει από έναν, στην περίπτωσή μας, αντρικό (φαλοκεντρικό?) λόγο περί τέχνης. Ωστώσο δεν αρκεί να ξαναγράψει κανείς την ιστορία της τέχνης περιλαμβάνοντας απλώς της γυναίκες γιατί το θέμα είναι πιο σύνθετο.
Τριάντα χρόνια μετά, το 2001, η Nochlin επιστρέφει στο συνέδριο “Women Artists at the Millennium”, με το ερώτημα να επαναλαμβάνεται αναζητώντας τις αλλαγές που επιτεύχθηκαν. Στο κείμενο της “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists, Thirty Years After» σημειώνει ότι οι αλλαγές είναι πολλές τα τελευταία τριάντα χρόνια. Αρκεί κανείς να σκεφτεί ότι το 1970 δεν υπήρχαν ούτε σπουδές φύλου, ούτε Αφρο-αμερικάνικες σπουδές, ούτε queer theory, ούτε μετα-αποικιακές σπουδές. Ηταν μια ‘εποχή αναβρασμών και αισιοδοξίας’ μέσα στην οποία γεννήθηκε και το γυναικέιο κίνημα.
(…) Οπως το θέτει Nochlin η ιστορία της τέχνης έως το 1971 δεν περιελάμβανε ονόματα ‘μεγάλων’ γυναικών καλλιτέχνιδων. Η φεμινιστική ιστορία της τέχνης αλλά και η θεωρία με τη σημερινή της μορφή δεν υπήρχαν, ‘έπρεπε να εφευρεθούν’. Οι θεωρίες του Λακάν και του γαλλλικού φεμινισμού μόλις είχαν αρχίσει να μπαίνουν στην ακαδημία. Το έργο φεμινιστριών ιστορικών και θεωριτικών τέχνης όπως η Rozsika Parker, η Grιselda Pollock, η Rosalind Krauss και αλλονών, πρόσφερε κριτικά εργαλεία για μια άλλη ανάγνωση της ιστοριάς της τέχνης γενικότερα. Ετσι το ερώτημα της Nochlin ‘Γιατι δεν υπήρξαν μεγάλες γυναίκες καλλιτέχνιδες’ δεν εξαντλήθηκε απλά στο ότι  οι γυναίκες της εποχής δεν είχαν ίσες ευκαιρίες. Χρειάστηκε μια άλλη ανάγνωση της ιστορίας της τέχνης, μια αλλαγή στο λόγο περί σύχγρονης τέχνης γενικά πράγμα για να εμπεριέξει η ιστορία της τέχνης και το έργο γυναικών καλλιτεχνών.


Artistic Activism and Agonistic Spaces

“I submit that to grasp the political character of those varieties of artistic activism we need to see them as counter-hegemonic interventions whose objective is to occupy the public space in order to disrupt the smooth image that corporate capitalism is trying to spread, bringing to the fore its repressive character. Acknowledging the political dimension of such interventions supposes relinquishing the idea that to be political requires making a total break with the existing state of affairs in order to create something absolutely new.
Today artists cannot pretend any more to constitute an avant-garde offering a radical critique, but this is not a reason to proclaim that their political role has ended. They still can play an important role in the hegemonic struggle by subverting the dominant hegemony and by contributing to the construction of new subjectivities. In fact this has always been their role and it is only the modernist illusion of the privileged position of the artist that has made us believe otherwise. Once this illusion is abandoned, jointly with the revolutionary conception of politics accompanying it, we can see that critical artistic practices represent an important dimension of democratic politics. This does not mean, though, as some seem to believe, that they could alone realize the transformations needed for the establishment of a new hegemony. As we argued in Hegemony and Socialist Strategy8 a radical democratic politics calls for the articulation of different levels of struggles so as to create a chain of equivalence among them. For the ‘war of position’ to be successful, linkage with traditional forms of political intervention like parties and trade-unions cannot be avoided. It would be a serious mistake to believe that artistic activism could, on its own, bring about the end of neo-liberal hegemony. ” Chantal Mouffe

Art and Knowledge: Towards a Decolonial Perspective

by Therese Kaufmann

What then does art production mean in the context of an understanding of “production”, in which the increasing commodity character of knowledge, “the subordinating relation between the sphere of knowledge production and that of commodity production”, is so altered or actually inverted that knowledge production takes on an existence of its own, leading to a “merging of the two spheres”?[3] What does it mean that art, in its “constantly expanding forms of practice”[4] between knowledge production, research, education and self-formation, is to be seen not only in immediate proximity to the development of knowledge economies, but is itself formulated as a site of the production of knowledge?[5] What does this mean for art education as part of the general commercialization of education in control societies?

Most of all, however, which knowledge is at stake here, and which historical-political power relations become visible in it? At the end of this essay, which is intended to provide an overview of several aspects of the intertwining of art and knowledge in cognitive capitalism, I would like to conjoin this question with a theoretical approach that also starts from the idea of “knowledge” as a central category of analysis, but one that is rarely viewed in this context: specifically the (de-)coloniality of knowledge. This opens up a perspective, from which several lines for rethinking the issue may be developed in terms of the ambivalences of art and knowledge production in current capitalism.

On the current cultural industry in England

Clair Bishop argues that the cuts to culture cannot be seen as separate from an assault on welfare, education, and social equality “The rhetoric of an “age of austerity” is being used as a cloak for the privatization of all public services and a reinstatement of class privilege: a sad retreat from the most civilized Keynesian initiatives of the post-war period, in which education, healthcare, and culture were understood to be a democratic right freely available to all.

Bishop explains how Thatcher enforced a populist, profit-making model, how New Labour also viewed culture as an economic generator, while recognizing the role of creativity and culture in commerce. The age of “creative economy” and “knowledge economy” has started.

The slogan was “everyone is creative,” presenting the government’s mission as one that aims to “free the creative potential of individuals.”

“However, it is important to recognize that this aim of unleashing creativity was not designed to foster greater social happiness, the authentic realization of human potential, or the utopian imagination of alternatives, but rather to accelerate the processes of neoliberalism.” -…-

“It became important to develop creativity in schools, not so that everyone could be an artist (as Joseph Beuys declared), but because the population is increasingly required to assume the individualization associated with creativity: to be entrepreneurial, embrace risk, look after their own self-interest, be their own brands, and be free of dependence on the state.

One of the Arts Council’s new goals is to promote private philanthropy—“a new culture of voluntarism, philanthropy, social action.” She argues on how experimental projects rarely receive support, while private sponsorship encourages self-censorship and the triumph of market imperatives.

The new moto is: Sacrifice=Volontear

Bishop explains the shift in education towards the shrinking of Arts and Humanities and the sponsoring of un-political, market oriented research. (Just see also what Phds are sponsored in Switzerland!)

“Under neoliberalism, the university is no longer tied to the production of culture and moral values, but to the profit motive (or what has been called “academic capitalism”)”

Now it is the free market that will organize education.

Bishop argues on the fact that those who support the cuts in the arts they say that in this crisis arts are a luxury. She argues on how this “actually creates and perpetuates this lie: without public subsidies, culture and the humanities are actually transformed from human necessities into luxuries, becoming the preserve of a wealthy few. The fight against cuts to arts and humanities funding is not a question of defending a luxury, but should be seen as part of a broader opposition to the destruction of the welfare state and the whole principle of austerity measures in general, in which the working and lower middle classes have to bear the brunt of the bank bailout to sustain the status quo. The “age of austerity” is only a screen for the further dismantlement all public services in the UK (from the NHS to free education to public funding for the arts), the most civilized of Britain’s accomplishments in the twentieth century. The end of public funding is the end of the public sphere, our most progressive institutions, and their commitment to non-commercial activity as a good in its own right”.

read the full article

Unpredictable Outcomes/Unpredictable Outcasts: On Recent Debates over Creativity and the Creative Industries

by Marion von Osten

Let me begin with a question: how does the currently hegemonic discourse of creativity, the creative industries and the artist as a role model for the new economy correspond to or conflict with the field of cultural producers and cultural activists? To bring out the problem even more sharply, I would first of all put in question the assumption that the ‘creative industries’, about which we are talking and against which we are struggling, are already in existence. Are they really there before us? Or do we perhaps face a field of political visions that aim to privatize the cultural sector in general but have not yet been realized in anything like an ‘industry’? I don’t think we can speak yet of an industry as such, either in the UK, where the discourse of ‘creative industries’ is established and the where cultural production was reorganized and repositioned (Davies, 2001), or in Germany, where the Social- Democratic Schröder government set in motion, with different results, a transformative shift toward a culturalization of the economy and a corresponding economization of culture (Pühl, 2003). Have we really reached a moment in which social interactions and forms of autonomous labor open possibilities for making a living in self- organized ways, ways that at the same time are exploitable by capital as immaterial resources? Or do we find ourselves within a transformation process in which outcomes are produced by diverse interactions, some of which can be said to be industrial, within a cultural field increasingly dominated by the interests of capital?

Marion von Osten, in: Critique of Creativity. Precarity, Subjectivity and Resistance in the ‘Creative Industries’.

Activist Art and the Counter-Public Sphere

by Gregory Sholette

Nonetheless, we must go even further than this initial line of questioning because it is not sufficient for a radical scholarship to simply provide conventional art history with a more complete “background” to creative labor and then leave it at that. Instead, a radical art scholarship and theory must by necessity seek to revise the very notion of artistic value as it is defined by bourgeois ideology. Besides finding new ways to account for collective artistic authorship it must also theorize the many occasions in which no object is produced or where the artistic practice is a form of creative engagement focused on the process of organization itself. And it needs to theorize concepts of expenditure including the notion of artistic gift giving as well as the shadowy forms of production and distribution while simultaneously challenging the emerging rhetoric of artistic administration as evinced by the de-politicized use of the term cultural capital.

“Dark Matter – Activist Art and the Counter-Public Sphere”

Creative Industries as Mass Deception

by Gerald Raunig

From this perspective of the double movement of the subjugation to a social unity and the enslavement within a machine, we cannot adhere to Adorno and Horkheimer’s idea of a system that works as a totality on the one side and the actors as passive objects of the system on the other side. Rather, the modes of subjectivation reconstruct totality over and over again; their involvement in the processes of social subjugation and machinic enslavement is neither voluntary nor forced. And here we also finally find an answer to the question raised at the beginning: how could it happen that this small shift from culture industry to creative and cultural industries became a brand of universal salvation not only for politicians, but also for many actors in the field? It happened precisely because the modes of subjectivation of machinic enslavement are conjoined with both desire and conformity, and the actors in creative industries interpret the appeal as meaning that they have at least chosen self-precarization themselves. In this sense, and to return to the title of this text, in light of the involvement of the actors in the mode of machinic enslavement it is hardly appropriate to speak of ‘mass deception’ – and I would doubt that it was meaningful at any time. In the context of the creative industry it would thus be more apt to speak of a ‘massive self- deception’ as an aspect of self-precarization. And we could also add to this ‘self-deception’ the possibility of resistance, which is actualized in the plane of immanence of what is still labeled as creative industries today.

Gerald Raunig, in: Critique of Creativity. Precarity, Subjectivity and Resistance in the Creative Industries