States of living: Architecture, Body. Object
This month's reading group included "Women vs Feminism: Do We Need Liberating from the Gender Wars?" by Joanna Williams, selected by Louise Foreman and 'Volcano Saga' (1989) by artist Joan Jonas, selected by Zsa Zsa MacGregor.
'Women vs Feminism'
Louise was particularly interested in the relationship of class conflict within feminist dialogue. Given that the project involves practitioners in their twenties, thirties and fifties the discussion allowed an opportunity to position particular questions and critiques of contemporary feminist practice.
Williams positions that feminism's as an ideology is placed beyond criticism and at times, unintentionally promotes an idea of women as vulnerable, and as victims that is often at odds with reality. Through a continuous process of reinvention, citing the #Metoo as it's most recent iteration of fourth - wave feminism. Williamson argues that this movement is taking women away from liberation and increasingly towards an illiberal future. She relates her critique as a movement of feminist practice from the political, to a cultural narrative and in doing so feminism's benefits become for the elite, professional feminist far more than the ordinary woman.
'Volcano Saga' (1989)
Volcano Saga by Joan Jonas was originally performed live, featuring media artist Jonas on stage narrating a thirteenth century Icelandic folktale about a woman named Gudrun whose adventures revolved around four mysterious dreams that required the services of a soothsayer.
Translated into film, Jonas is no longer the narrator of the events as actors fill the roles of Gudrun and the soothsayer. Zsa Zsa was particularly interested in the re- telling of myth, framed by an auto - biographical introduction. Whilst collecting footage for the work in Iceland, Jona's car was blown of the road. The video work allowed for a conversation on the approaches to multi - layered narratives, folk lore and place as well as the role of translation from live work to video.
This months reading group was hosted at the home of Rachel Grant, with homemade lentil dahl and naan breads.
About Joanna Williams
Williams is Senior Lecturer in Higher Education at the University of Kent and Education Editor at Spiked, the online current affairs magazine. She speaks and writes regularly in the media on higher education, schools, gender, feminism, children, and families.
Women versus feminism
About Joan Jonas
Born in 1936 in New York, Joan Jonas is a pioneer of performance and video art. Jonas works in video, installation, sculpture and drawing and often collaborates with musicians and dancers.