CoHabiting: Contemporary Art, History and Feminism

10 January 2015, The Old Courtroom, Brighton

Invigorated by the current so-called ‘fourth wave’ of feminism, Day + Gluckman look ultimately to commission site-specific visual art works, live actions and performance (including across digital media platforms) within the context of historical spaces. This research symposium will ask some of the more complex questions.

Presenting contemporary art within the spaces of heritage buildings takes on the weight of historical residue and the force with which it can collide with contemporary thought. The core ideal of female equality from which this project is propelled and the diverse and complex ramifications of the word ‘feminism’ are really underpinned with some key facts and stats. So how do you commission works from artists, from such a black and white starting point? The nuance, the exploration, the very creative process seems at odds with the aching urgency that such figures evoke.

How can works escape or re-write the rules on the debated ‘feminist aesthetic’ or gendered artwork, as any such label immediately puts it outside of the established contemporary art arena. Often activists, and their urgency transforms in to extremism, and extremism shuts down debate, conversation and the space in which a work of art can be at it’s most enigmatic and profound. So how do we handle the facts and provoke thought in an audience who have signed up to be transported back? How do we make works relevant when presented from the romanticised, visitor routes of a heritage site.

It is not our job to dress a house with beautiful works, but to dig a little deeper. The historic resonance of any place will be seeped in woman’s inequality.

Programme Summary

Day + Gluckman introduction, ambitions and research questions for A Woman’s Place   [DOWNLOAD PDF OF TALK]

Contemporary Art, History and Feminism, crossovers, conversations and clashes
Helen Eastman, Theatre Director, Academic & Writer
Sophie Chessum, Consultancy Manager at National Trust
Tom Freshwater, Contemporary Art Programmes Manager at National Trust (Trust New Art)
Erika Tan, Artist
Dr. Margaretta Jolly, Reader in Cultural Studies and Director of The Centre for Life History and Life Writing Research, University of Sussex (British Library – Sisterhood and After)

Mixed Messages, Communicating Feminism
Barby Asante – Artist and Educator
Tamsyn Challenger, Artist  [DOWNLOAD PDF OF TALK]
Rose Gibbs, Artist, Activist & East London Fawcett Society Arts  
Emily Druiff, Director of Peckham Platform

This symposium is part-funded by a grant from Arts Council England (see main project page) with support from Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton and Hove which is currently hosting Maisie Broadhead’s commission in the Pavilion, Peepers