Shattered: Contemporary perspectives on second wave feminism and its art forms

Speakers: Dr Angela Dimitrakaki (Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Art History and Theory, University of Edinburgh), Dr Catherine Grant (Lecturer in Critical Studies in Art, Goldsmiths), Marlene Smith (Artist, and Curator, The Public).
Moderator: Amy Tobin (Lecturer in the Department of History of Art at the University of Cambridge and Curator at Kettle’s Yard).

‘In order to create an alternative an oppressed group must at once shatter the self-reflecting world which encircles it and, at the same time, project its own image onto history. In order to discover its own identity as distinct from that of the oppressor it has to become visible to itself. All revolutionary movements create their own ways of seeing. But this is the result of great labour.’
– Extract from workshop documents, ‘Workshop on Images of Women’, by the Women’s Workshop of the Artists Union, c 1972

Titled Shattered, the event aims to explore second wave feminism and its intersection with artistic practice from a contemporary perspective. The event runs in parallel to our exhibition of work by Alexis Hunter, a feminist conceptual photographer whose work directly intervened in the realm of the political with a view to disrupt socially inscribed gender roles and their mediation. Within a contemporary context of feminist activism amongst artists and thinkers, it becomes ever more important to understand the achievements, languages, strategies of second wave movements, whilst troubling their legacy and articulating limitations. Invited speakers will examine this seismic moment in which art and politics were irrevocably intertwined, to complexify, challenge and find potential solidarities. Furthermore, the question will be asked, does the move towards a pluralised concept of ‘feminisms’ threaten the potential for communal focused action at a time in which liberal ideals of equality are threatened?

Image credit: The Dinner Party (International), Date Unknown, courtesy of The Women’s Art Library, Special Collections and Archives, Goldsmiths, University of London


Dr Angela Dimitrakaki is a writer and Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Art History and Theory at the University of Edinburgh, where she directs the MSc in Modern and Contemporary Art: History, Curating and Criticism. Angela’s books include ECONOMY: Art, Production and the Subject in the 21st Century, co-edited with K. Lloyd (2015), a follow-up to the exhibition ECONOMY in Edinburgh and Glasgow in 2013; Gender, ArtWork and the Global Imperative: A Materialist Feminist Critique (2013); Art and Globalisation: From the Postmodern Sign to the Biopolitical Arena (2013, in Greek); Politics in a Glass Case: Feminism, Exhibition Cultures and Curatorial Transgressions, co-edited with L. Perry (Liverpool University Press 2013). In 2017, she co-edited the special issue Social Reproduction and Art for Third Text, for which she is currently co-editing a special issue on Antifascist Art Theory, forthcoming in May 2019. She is a co-organiser of the Marxist Feminist Stream for Historical Materialism’s annual London conference. Writing in her native Greek, Angela is an award winning fiction writer, including in 2017 an Athens Academy Award. Her forthcoming scholarly study is titled Feminism, Art, Capitalism (2019) and her next novel, TINA the story of an alignment, is out in December 2018 by Hestia, Athens.

Catherine Grant is Senior Lecturer in the Art and Visual Cultures Departments at Goldsmiths, University of London. She is currently working on the re-enactment of feminist histories in contemporary art. The project includes the essays “Fans of Feminism: re-writing histories of second-wave feminism” (2011) and a “A Time of One’s Own” (2016), both published in the Oxford Art Journal. She is also working on an edited collection entitled Fandom as Methodology with Kate Random Love, due out in 2019, and is the co-editor of Girls! Girls! Girls! (2011) and Creative Writing and Art History (2012).

Marlene Smith is an artist who curates. She is currently working with Lubaina Himid and Christine Eyene at Making Histories Visible; an artist led research centre and archive at University of Central Lancashire where she is also undertaking doctoral research. She is an Associate Artist at Modern Art Oxford. During the 80s she was a member of the Blk Art Group with Eddie Chambers, Claudette Johnson, Keith Piper and Donald Rodney. The group’s series of exhibitions and national conferences were central to the UK Black Art movement. She has held leadership roles in several arts organisations including Director at London’s Black Art Gallery, and Executive Director, The Public Gallery Ltd.

Amy Tobin is Lecturer in the Department of History of Art at the University of Cambridge and Curator at Kettle’s Yard. Her PhD research focused on art and feminism in Britain and North America in the 1970s, and particularly at group work and collaboration between women. Her research has been published in British Art Studies, MIRAJ and Tate Papers and in books including Other Cinemas: Politics, Culture and Experimental Film in the 1970s (IB Tauris, 2017), Feminism and Art History Now (IB Tauris, 2017), The Art of Feminism (Chronicle and Tate, 2018) and A Companion to Feminist Art (Blackwell, 2019). In 2017 she wrote and edited 14 Radnor Terrace: A Woman’s Place for the exhibition 56 Artillery Lane at Raven Row in London, this year her co-edited book (with Jo Applin and Catherine Spencer) London Art Worlds: Mobile, Contingent and Ephemeral Networks was published by Pennsylvania State University Press. She is currently working on a book on feminism, art and sisterhood.