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Brenda A perspective on art, culture and politics for ArtH 344 with a primary focus on feminist and activist art. - Brute Heart (@bruteheart)
Artculturepolitics southpaw541 not alone is @bruteheart



“Not Alone” is a project done by the Make Art/Stop Aids organization. This group is made of scholars, artists, and activists committed to end the global Aids epidemic. They believe that artists are an essentail part of the anti-Aids movement through awareness and appreciation of the art. “Not Alone” is a visual arts collection that showcases the role of art in fighting the Aids epidemic. This project was started in Los Angeles. The picture in this post is empty pill bottles that is called “Medicine Man” that was made by Daniel Goldstien and John Kapella.

Both this piece, and Félix González-Torres’ Untitled series interestingly address the issue of Aids through portraits of individuals composed of inanimate objects. However, Félix González-Torres’ pieces, while striking, are masked with brighter colors and the primary material of candy, whereas Goldstien and Kapella’s piece is a striking portrayal of hardship and the consuming nature of Aids through the imagery of medication. However, both pieces illustrate the consuming and dehumanizing nature of the disease through their deviation from tradition portrait representations. The similarities between inanimate representations of people in both works reveals the negative connection resonant in all anti-Aids or Aids awareness pieces, illustrating the community as mythic unity that is formed between the members who participate in Aids activist art. Although all of the projects and experiences of those involved are separate and distinct, each artist is bonded to another due to the presence and influence of Aids upon their lives. As the women of Suzanne Lacy's Full Circle women’s community work had different struggles and identities, so do the members and victims of the Aids movement and epidemic. However, like gender united the women of Lacy’s project, illness connects the members of anti-Aids art, whether it be their personal experiences or those of a loved one. Therefore, Aids activist art forms a mythic community, which honors victims and sheds light of the realities of the epidemic and it’s effects. A community of struggle that led to activism. 

Kusamapyjamas silverman gallery tammy rae @bruteheart


Silverman Gallery -Tammy Rae Carland - I’m Dying Up Here, (Mop Face) 2011

Tammy Rae Carland's I’m Dying Up Here series depicts a series of female comedians in uncomfortable or vulnerable situations. Not only do these pieces address the uncomfortable and nerve-wracking relationships between performer and audience, they also seem to present a very interesting commentary on gender. This commentary is especially interesting in regard to the above piece I’m Dying Up Here (Mop Face), in which not only is the woman faceless and therefore absent of a true identity, she is also powerfully and directly connected to domesticity due to her relationship with the mop. The image of the woman’s face as being a mop presents her as nothing more than a tool for domesticity and household upkeep. The firm connection between women and the home was also a major theme in the collective work Womanhouse which we covered in class; that strong and striking connection and illustration of the bond between women’s identity and the home. Lia Wilson of Art Practical describes of Carland's I’m Dying Up Here series:

Carland has exhibited these photographs along with framed punch lines from famous female comedians like Phyllis Diller and Moms Mabely. Many of these punch lines were of a self-deprecating nature; for those few women in this boys’ club, demeaning themselves was a common tactic to get a laugh. Though comedy was and is a place where gender roles could be made more flexible and societal mores potentially loosened, many early female comedians were discouraged, disgraced, and effaced by their male counterparts. Carland’s photographs re-perform the flailing female comic as both a tribute to the history of these women and as a poignant record of their vulnerability and self-humiliation.”

Therefore, Carland’s pieces not only comment on the relationship between women and the home but also on their reception in the public sphere, as well as the struggle women face to be accepted in a highly male-dominated society. Like Womanhouse and Faith Wilding's Sacrifice, Carland examines the realities of the sacrifices women must make in the form of their wills, their bodies and their dignities in order to survive and thrive in a male centered society. 

You can visit Carland’s website and see more of her projects: here

Thesuperficialsigh janine antoni mom and dad @bruteheart


Janine Antoni. Mom and Dad, 1994. Three silver dye bleach prints. 

Janine Antoni’s 1994 piece Mom and Daddepicts three images of her parents. In each image her parents and transformed to look like one another. In the first image, we see both the mother and father together, with the father disguised as the mother and the mother disguised as her father. The following two images depict one parent presented as their normal self next to the disguised mimic image of their partner as themselves. This piece of feminist art really addresses the ideals and practiced of gender roles and gender presentation and calls attention to the different cultured expressions and appearances normalized to each gender in both clothing and make up. Much of Antoni’s work play upon the concepts of expression and femininity. Apart from photography, Antoni also does performance art and sculpture work. As Mom and Dad uses make up and the body to create and image and art, Antoni’s 1996-9 work Butterfly Kisses also examines the relationship between make up, the body and art. In Butterfly Kisses, Antoni covers a canvas with stroke marks made from batting her eyelashes against the canvas while they are covered in mascara. Here, Antoni’s body is the tool that creates the art, similar to how in Mom and Dad, the body is the canvas for the art. With her use of make up and the body Antoni raises questions about the relationships between the traditionally feminine practices of make up and presentation for the public and how the use of make up itself is in a way a form or tool in art. While Antoni is very interesting in having a direct relationship with her art and her own body in using her own body as tools, she is also very interested in the relationship between herself and her audience, saying that she feels completed by their presence. Antoni is very interested in the process of the artwork, exemplified by the methodic eyelash painting that is Butterfly Kisses.


Consumemyform arthistorylenore faith wilding @bruteheart



Faith Wilding was born in 1943 in Paraguay on a commune. She immigrated to the United States in 1961. Wilding’s art is some of the most memorable of the Feminist movement. Her current work is directed to cyberfeminist issues: issues regarding women and technology. She is currently employed at the School of Art Institute of Chicago. If you are interested in more about Wilding her website is: You can find Wilding’s artist statement at this website as well.


Wilding’s performance Waiting was one of her most memorable. The poetic monologue dealt with women’s socially outlined roles and desires. You can read the entire monologue here: It was a very fascinating and charismatic performance. Waiting was a strong performance because of the Wilding’s choice of setting, actions, and words.


The setting of Waiting made the performance very powerful. The audience sat in a circle around Wilding, all facing her. Wilding sat at the head of the circle, so that all could see her. This put all focus on Wilding, a very powerful position. Also, the circle the performance utilized mimicked many social functions, specifically social functions centered on teaching and story-telling. This placed Wilding in an environment that demanded attention.


Wilding’s behavior when performing Waiting made her monologue unforgettably charismatic. Wilding did not make eye contact with any members of the audience. Instead, she left her eyes lowered and indirect. This reflected the boring quality of the waiting Waiting described. Wilding’s movement in her chair also made her performance riveting. It reflected an incredible variety of emotions like nervousness, boredom, anxiety, and pain. This created a very dramatic performance.


Finally, Wilding’s word-choice made her performance Waiting a very influential work in the Feminist movement. Wilding’s use of repetition and sparse wording made her performance much more successful than if she had written an elaborate sonnet. Waiting utilized the importance of simplicity for getting a message across. This made Wilding’s points all the more poignant.  

Waiting also plays off the ideas of a woman’s life being directed by forces outside of her control, namely “waiting” for the male influence to act, and as a synedoche of women’s life, she is the passive carrier for that direction. Wilding’s performance took place in the larger scope of the Womanhouse which was designed and produced by FAP, Feminist Art Program at Fresno State in 1970. The performance laid out the expectations of a woman’s life during that time, which are still considered typical today. By making these conjectures obvious, the audience hopefully can become aware and find their own personal direction.

Waiting, like many of the projects of Womanhouse also illustrated the sacrificial nature women have internalized throughout their lives. Instead of being autonomous and exploring their different potentials, they are often left stagnant and waiting due to the societal roles and confines that are placed upon them to be nurturing and compliant. The repetitive and minimalistic aspects of Waiting , mixed with the keening and painful quality Wilding emits throughout the performance really highlight upon that theme of sacrifice which keeps the woman contained and at the request of those in her life who she is taught to serve and be subordinate to, such as her family and her husband. 

Wilding’s 1971 installation at the Feminist Art studio in Fresno also highlights the connection between women and sacrifice. The piece, appropriately titled Sacrifice, consisted of a funeral parlor type setting in which a life-size figure of a women lays dead and bloody, cut open, upon and altar among blood, guts, kotex and fake flowers. This work was also participatory in that the audience was encouraged to light candles upon the altar for the sacrificed woman. It seems the sacrifice often involved in women’s roles, whether that be sacrifice of their daily routines through waiting, or sacrifice of their bodies through birth and motherhood was a topic of key interest for Wilding, and, as we saw with Womanhouse with the “Nurturant Kitchen”, “Menstruation Bathroom” and various other pieces of that work, it was for her fellow feminist artists as well. 

Do you know of any other feminist art pieces of this time that addressed the themes of sacrifice of the body or mind in the same, or different manners? Do you think these themes are still highly present in feminist art today? 

Projections is a series of words ideas and @bruteheart

Projections is a series of words, ideas and phrases Jenny Holzer has placed in public places and inside of museum spaces internationally. She often uses light projection, electrics signs, paintings and writings to do these works. 

By presenting her works on public architecture and landscapes, her medium is really the public forum. Her poetical phrases and words in various languages take place in city such as Paris and Berlin, as well as the states of New York and Washington, even Portland, Oregon. 

The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary art describes Holzer’s work saying, “Since 1996, Holzer has engaged landscape and architecture as the screens for her work; spaces, people, and time are tucked into a spare and affirming gesture." 

Holzer used to write all of her texts herself, but recently she has also collaborated with other authors. 

Holzer’s work politicizes public spaces and transforms every space into a space of thought and message. 

Her projections have had several series. Her most famous, Truisms, which took place from 1977-1979, consisted of aphorisms publicized on street poster and even billboards. 

Hozler’s work shows a mix of activism and awareness that is thrust straight into everyday life and therefore cannot be ignored. 

Therefore, the public is participating in her art as well as being surrounded and immersed in it. Her work is public art personified. 

You can see more of Holzer’s Projections on her website, here

Soulhospital untitled guerrilla girls @bruteheart


Untitled - Guerrilla Girls, 1985-90.

Feminist Art - Screenprint on paper, 330 x 560 mm.

Permanent Collection of the Tate Gallery, United Kingdom.

This piece of art by the feminist art and activism group Guerrilla Girls reminds me a lot of Ray Johnson’s Mail Art during the post WWII Neo-Avant Garde period, as well as the Situationist International’s use of détournement with postcards and other items in order to challenge the existing meanings and connotations of images. 

Here is an official statement of the intentions and history of their projects from their website, you could say it’s sort of a manifesto:

We’re feminist masked avengers in the tradition of anonymous do-gooders like Robin Hood, Wonder Woman and Batman. How do we expose sexism, racism and corruption in politics, art, film and pop culture? With facts, humor and outrageous visuals. We reveal the understory, the subtext, the overlooked, the and the downright unfair. Our work has been passed around the world by our tireless supporters. In the last few years, we’ve appeared at over 90 universities and museums, as well as in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, Bitch, and Artforum; on NPR, the BBC and CBC; and in many art and feminist texts. We are authors of stickers, billboards, many, many posters and street projects, and several books including The Guerrilla Girls’ Bedside Companion to the History of Western Art and Bitches, Bimbos and Ballbreakers: The Guerrilla Girls’ Guide to Female Stereotypes. We’re part of Amnesty International’s Stop Violence Against Women Campaign in the UK; we’re brainstorming with Greenpeace. In the last few years, we’ve unveiled anti-film industry billboards in Hollywood just in time for the Oscars, and created large scale projects for the Venice Biennale, Istanbul and Mexico City. We dissed the Museum of Modern Art at its own Feminist Futures Symposium, examined the museums of Washington DC in a full page in the Washington Post, and exhibited large-scale posters and banners in Athens, Bilbao, Montreal, Rotterdam, Sarajevo and Shanghai. WHAT’S NEXT? More creative complaining! More facts, humor and fake fur! More appearances, actions and artworks. We could be anyone; we are everywhere.

As you can see, the Guerrilla Girls work in various medias, and fuse art and the public sphere in order to further activism and feminism. They are a perfect example of the types of collective groups we have been studying. Their art and actions are not only aesthetically interesting and unique, but they speak to social and political issues. 

I really like this piece in particular because it calls out the white male dominance within the art world. It causes the audience to contemplate the artists and work they are exposed to and evaluate what kind of perspectives they may be missing due to the dominance of art produced by (often white) privileged males.

This calls into question: Is there more representation and celebration of white male work than other genders and ethnicities? What art works do you commonly learn about? Are they primarily male-produced? White male-produced? How diverse are the voices and perspectives you are being introduced to? Do we see this kind of dominance within our own course?

The Guerilla Girls are calling attention to presences and dominances that often go unnoticed in a male (often white male) dominated society. While we have discussed a lot of diverse forms of innovative and bold art movements throughout the class thus far, there does seem to be a pattern of recognized art and art groups being predominantly male. This is often the reflection of what is valued in a society, and quite often women’s work was dismissed and demeaned. However, I think the aggressive and unique efforts of the Futurists, Dada and later the Situationists International and Neo-Avant Garde artists helped contribute to an atmosphere and a energy that made feminist and activist art like the work of Guerrilla Girls possible. As well, there were many fantastic female artists who were making waves during those times, such as Valie Export, Yoko Ono and Meiko Shiomi.

You can visit the Guerrilla Girls website and learn more about their projects and art, here.

Diamant e francis picabia ridens by @bruteheart


Francis picabia

Ridens by Francis Picabia. Picabia was a painter and writer who was involved in the Dada movement from 1916 to 1919 until he quit and renounced the movement in 1921 and became more involved in Surrealism. Dadaism ran on irrationality, illogicality, and randomness in the aftermath of the traumatic WWI. Rather than being slaves to commission and monarchy, artists were producing the kinds of works that inspired and pleased themselves rather than tradition. The art of this time was not conventionally representative of life, and therefore was seen as an attack on the institutionalization of art itself at those times. Though the work of this groups was often provoking, the Dadaist were more passive in their art and performance (especially in comparison to the Futurists). The work definitely showcases the hope to disrupt the audience’s complacency and cause more thought. This piece draws on the more Surrealist inclinations Picabia turned towards in his art, especially since this was done in 1929, about ten years after he left the Dada movement. However, Picabia’s periodical 391 was a vital involvement in the Dada movement before he later renounced the group. You can clearly see in Picabia’s work how the artists of the Futurist, Dada, and Surrealist movements were renouncing the traditional conventions of art and painting and really reinventing art and the creativity and individualism that could be infused within those realms. 

You can read a complete biography of Picabia, here

The i had an abortion project the i had an @bruteheart

The I Had an Abortion Project

“The I Had an Abortion project had many inspirations. Some were conversations I kept having with second wave feminists on this listserv called History-In-Action, where the women would talk about how infuriating it was that their experiences of abortion—often trauma-free and liberating—were not part of the media presentation or common understanding of the issue. Some were conversations with my frequent writing partner, Amy Richards, who is brave and open about her experiences with abortion. The final inspiration was frustration with how activists (myself included) yell loudly about abortion rights, but rarely place ourselves in the issue. What experiences have pro-choice and pro-life leaders and senators and congresspeople personally had with abortion?

Frustration with the yelling and the lack of personal stakes in reporting on this issue led me to want to approach it only personally—get right to the women and their stories, their faces and their lives, and get away from their political opinions. Thus, this is a pro-abortion rights project that is most concerned with creating space for women and men to speak honestly about their lives and their abortion experiences.”

–Jennifer Baumgardner


In 2004 activist and filmaker Jennifer Baumgardner produced a film, t-shirts, and a photo exhibit addressing the controversial topic of abortion within U.S. Society. Baumgardner photographed 10 women including prominent feminist figure Gloria Steinem wearing these shirts in order to bring light to the struggles that everyday women and men have encountered due to abortion. I see this project not only as an activist performance but also and artistic one through the mediums of film, photography, and the use of everyday people as living art. Like many artists in turbulence political and social climates, Baumgardner used film, photography and everyday life to illustrate that everyday people are effected and connected to political and social issues. The I Had an Abortion Project thrusts a controversial issue into the stage of public life with the use of clothing as a communication medium. 

Baumgardner’s project, like the bold projects of Valie Export and other post-WWII Neo-Avant Garde artists, was bold and propostitional. It really caused its audience to ponder the complexity of social and political issues, and realize how experiences or concepts that are often taboo are also commonplace and effect many different people from all walks of life. 

Even though this project took place in 2004, the subject of abortion remains extremely prominent in the world of politics today, especially during the last election and the War on Women. I think it’s important to look at how even in nations which proclaim themselves as free, there still remains much stigma and bias, especially in regard to women’s rights. The I Had an Abortion Project is just another example throughout the history of art and art activism of the impact and critique that art and performance can have on the current political and social climates. 

You can visit the website for the film and see images and more, here

Consumemyform i think that this is a strong @bruteheart


I think that this is a strong comment upon the lack of public interactions and general disregard for those present. Instead of investing oneself in in one’s current surroundings, attentions are spent far off in the “cloud” texting friends, reading blogs, and looking at cats online. When will human interaction only happen mediated through technology? Is it harmful? Helpful? How can artists bring light upon this and perhaps influence change?


Where did all the fun people go?

This is a really interesting and strong piece. It seems as well that artistic forms are becoming more and more dependent on technology, just like everything else. I think it is highly likely that as our society becomes more and more dependent and submerged in technology that the subject of the disconnect and deterioration of personal relationships could become a major topic in art as well as participatory art. There seems to be a lot of opportunity in the sphere of addressing these issues in a public space and examining the relationships between technology and life as well as art and life. 

A common tactic of the situationist international @bruteheart

A common tactic of the Situationist International (SI) was détournement. The tactic was “the subversive appropriation of existing images to undermine their existing meaning”. One way in which the SI employed détournement was to alter comics and replace the content of the speech bubbles with their own political messages and slogans. The image of Charlie Brown spewing political propaganda was indeed a striking and undermining one. 

So, in order to recreate the feel and intent of the SI's détournement of comics, I took the popular figures of Archie’s Girls Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge from the Archie Comics and presented them with slogans and phrases utilized in the current wave of the feminist movement and the reaction to the recent political War on Women within the House of Representatives and Congress in regard to birth control and the abortion rights. I was intrigued to do this project because feminism and activism is an important part of my life, and I thought the ideals and political scope of the movement in recent times was a perfect subject for an SI-esque comic détournement. 

I found this project really fun as well as thought provoking. What sort of influence would these comics have if they were mass-produced and accessible? Often in the media feminism is mis-construed and demonized, and I think the coupling of feminist pedagogy and slogans along with such household figures as Betty and Veronica serve to help step away from those stereotypes as well as shed light on the issues of feminism and the movement’s current strive for equity for all types of people. I also think the project helps to debunk the mindset that all feminists are angry, ugly, man-hating lesbians. 

The tactic of détournement is a unique and thought-provoking method of raising awareness to current social states and political ideals, and after recreating such a work I can definitely see and understand why the tactic was such an interesting and important method for the Situationist International to utilize. 

(Disclaimer: I do not own the Archie’s comics or characters. The slogans and phrases I used were ones I have seen and heard within the feminist community within recent years as well as currently.)

Valie export was legally born waltruad lehner on @bruteheart

Valie Export was legally born Waltruad Lehner on May 17, 1940. Export is her artist name.  Export’s work includes many mediums such as sculpture, expanded cinema, body performances, and photography. Her works were rich with feminist themes throughout the period of Neo-Avant Garde art. These themes distinguished her as a key figure in feminist art.

Export’s art often critiqued women’s roles in theatre. Her work TAPP- und Tast-kino (Tap and Touch Cinema) is a piece in which she wore a tiny theatre around her naked upper body and challenged the male gaze and sexualized depictions of cinema by inviting men, women and children to touch her bare chest inside her costume as they stared into her emotionless face. Export often subjected her own body to pain and danger in her works in order to confront the harmful complacency and homogenized mindset of the culture she grew up in post-war Austria. Tapp- und Tist-kino was performed from 1968-1971. 

Another example of Export’s feminist-toned and bold work was her performance piece during 1968 titled Aktionshose:Genitalpanik (Action Pants: Genital Panic) in which she wore a pair of pants with a cut-out at the genitals as she walked around her performance space with her exposed genitals at eye-level with her audience. Like Tapp- und Tast-kino, Export’s work aimed to challenge the role of women within cinema in regard to their sexualization and passivity. 

Export’s work has great impact and influence because it showcases a woman taking command of her own body and offering it up for view herself, rather than being controlled and sold by a man. Her work also is a direct contrast to the normally passive and composed view that society attributes to women. 

Export is still alive and working today. You can visit her website here