Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Feminism and Art

I posted a couple of weeks ago about an article in the Signs special issue on Feminist Art and Social Change (33,2: Winter 2008), but I've been meaning to post other pieces in the issue. In one, Indian film-maker and writer Paramita Vohra discusses the relationship between feminism and art. Here's some of what she says:

It is not the work of the artist to place strategy above ideas, truisms above honesty. Most of all, art is a place of honesty--where the nature of art, which is affective as much as explicit or intellectual, something that allows us to feel or sense as much as see or understand--allows for a certain arrangement of contradictions and dilemmas. The honesty and form can then perhaps lead to a slow resolving or acceptance of these contradictions. The creative endeavor is a constant reconsideration ad refining of politics. It is a spontaneous form of politics but also vulnerable because of its openness. Does that change people? I have had the odd reassuring, definite response, "I always thought I am not a feminist although I believe in equal rights, but after seeing the film I am proud to call myself one." But more often there are the long exploratory discussions about the self, the world, feminism, feminists, men, women, parents, love, anger, violence, and change-- interesting and involved but inconclusive. Who can say for sure if individuals are changed, but the film does change the tone, shift the paradigm.

At the end of her piece, she concludes "It is not the place of the alternative to become the mainstream... Art becomes a meaningful political space only if it is emotionally viable to people-- and it is so only if it is a place where they can make meanings of their own instead of merely consuming those that they are given."

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