Women’s Histories, Feminist Histories


This seminar continues the discussions of two previous ones held at MASP, on February and November 2018. It is part of the research undertaken for the cycle of exhibitions and public programs Women’s Histories, Feminist Histories, including the homonymous exhibition expected to take place between August and November 2019 at MASP. The exhibition is divided in two parts: Women’s Histories, including works from several territories, styles, and pictorial genres until the end of the 19th century, and Feminist Histories, comprising artists of different nationalities working around feminist ideas or in response to them on the 21st century.
The seminar is a forum in which women artists, curators, activists, and theorists will be able to approach the main themes around feminism and art. Women’s Histories, Feminist Histories seeks to approach not only the topics that have been recently gaining importance in international debates, but also engender new reflections for MASP’s curatorial project. The discussion involves themes as human rights, sexual dissidences, race and gender, and activisms, all of them in relation with visual culture and the artistic practice.

Tickets will be available one hour before the beginning of the seminar at the museum’s box office. In order to get a certificate, one must register with full name, e-mail address, and present an official document on the day of the event. Certificates will be sent to the registered e-mail address at a later time.

Organization: Adriano Pedrosa, Amanda Carneiro, André Mesquita, Isabella Rjeille, and Mariana Leme. 


10 am
Introduction with Adriano Pedrosa

10:30 am – 12:30 pm
Converging Lines: Notes on Latin American Artists on the Turn of the Century

Since the 1970s, the feminist criticism of art history unveiled a wide range of works, actions, and artists who were erased from canonical narratives. In Latin America, the history of women artists remained a terra incognita for decades. This field would only recently start to be systematically explored. From such investigations, one can elicit a few common lines allowing to think about the activity of women artists and their insertion in historical accounts. This work proposes three lines in order to think about the careers and the critical fortune of such artists. Firstly, I will analyze the consolidation of a limiting stereotype for women artists of the region: the one stating that they were simply limited to “minor” media and genres. Secondly, I will approach the prevailing legends of the turn of the century in different scenes, like Lola Mora (1866-1936) in Argentina and Rebeca Matte (1875-1929) in Chile. Lastly, I will examine how the fragmentary data records and the material disappearance of artworks made by women have complicated the critical rewriting of art histories in Latin America.

Moderns in Museums: The Difficult Consecration

In 1947, the Musée National d’Art Moderne was inaugurated. Back then, 623 artists were selected to represent “the” modern art history present in Paris, considered the artistic capital of modern times. In such a temple of consecration, only 45 of the exhibited artworks were signed by women artists. Such low representation highlights the difficulties faced by women artists to be acknowledged, even during the modernist period. This presentation intends to reflect upon the articulations of gender and recognition, analyzing the female presence during the early days of modern art museums.

Damage Control: Black Women's Visual Resistance in Brazil and Beyond

Jezebels, Mammies, and Matriarchs… These labels signify racialized and gendered social constructions that transnationally pervade the lives of black women. This paper thus analyzes Rosana Paulino’s work as a visual form of resistance to three major “controlling images” of black Brazilian women as sexually promiscuous, domestic laborers, and unfit mothers. Her work represents not only a Brazilian experience, it broadens and deepens conversations on art by black women of Africa and its diasporas, where similar stereotypes exist. Works by María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Lorna Simpson, Zanele Muholi, and Wangechi Mutu, among others, are placed in conversation with that of Paulino, both articulating her to an international community of black women artists and developing greater space for the art historical representation of black Brazilian women.
2 pm – 4:30 pm
Feminist Sisterhood and Feminist Rivalry in the Women’s Art Movement

The Women's Liberation Movement of the 1970s advocated for the political power of sisterhood, but these relationships were rarely smooth. Groups formed and broke down, leading activists were trashed and excised from the organizations they founded, feminists fought over inclusivity and equality. In the connected Women's Art Movement, debates around the agency of artists and the politics of representation created bad feeling between artists and critics, and fundamentally shaped the making, discussion, and display of art. This talk maps some of these exchanges onto the lateral model of the sibling relation, articulating a feminist avant-garde and a more complex understanding of the call “Sisterhood is Powerful.”

Beyond Radical Admiration

In 2018, Lydia Hamann and Kaj Osteroth released Radical Admiration – A Feminist Picture Book, dedicated to underrepresented female artists they find inspiring – mind-blowing, clever-smart, or simply irresistible. The Admiration lead to paintings, one for each artist with whom they desired to spend time with, stuffed with quotations, citing the respective artists’ works, struggles, and strategies. Through their radical co-authoring, the eleven canvas series Radical Admiration reflects the artists’ aims to renegotiate issues of representation and her*story writing. Aimed at a teenage audience, the accompanying texts dive into yet another set of ideas, namely bad painting and the couch as a third member of the collective. Elaborating on the mutual processes and peeking into intimate moments of their negotiations, Kaj Osteroth will reflect the potential of working together and further admiration beyond this point.

Life Imposes Itself

A vida se impõe [Life Imposes Itself] is the name of a work made in Rio de Janeiro, in 2017, with the collaboration of several people I met in the city. The talk will happen through a Kamishibai Theater, an origami theater of Japanese origin. Life imposes itself as a mode of resistance faced with all sexist and institutional violence found throughout the entirety of our territory. Time has come to share it and, why not, multiply it.
Difference, Triggers, and Where We Are Now

With the 2017 New Museum exhibition, Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon, co-curated with Johanna Burton and Sara O’Keeffe, we sought to question the place of gender today within contemporary art and within larger conversations about culture and theory. One of the central questions we asked ourselves was how thinking of gender beyond a binary might open up new ways of thinking of identity more broadly. Several questions invariably come up for many people: does thinking of gender as non-binary undermines the contributions of past feminist politics and theory, or the urgency of feminist politics today? Can feminism move beyond a binary notion of gender – and if so, why should it? My presentation will touch on pivotal shifts in theorizing the instability and performativity of gender, the destabilizing force of queer theory, and how the exhibition Trigger engaged emerging issues and offered up new questions of its own.
5 pm – 6pm
Roundtable with Anna Bella Geiger


Ana Paula Cavalcanti Simioni
Holder of a full professor title in Art Sociology from the Instituto de Estudos Brasileiros of Universidade de São Paulo, where she works as a professor, researcher, and postgrad research advisor. Since 2000, she has been dedicating herself to the relations between art and gender in Brazil and France in the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries. Among her publications, stand out Profissão artista: pintoras e escultoras acadêmicas brasileiras, published by EDUSP/FAPESP in 2008. In 2015, along with Elaine Dias, she curated the exhibition Mulheres artistas: as pioneiras, at Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo.

Anna Bella Geiger
Born in 1933, in Rio de Janeiro, she graduated in Anglo-Germanic Languages at Faculdade Nacional de Filosofia (UFRJ) and, still during the 1950s, studied Art History and Art Sociology with Hanna Levy Deinhardt at New York University and the New School for Social Research. Her work is regularly exhibited in Brazil and abroad, being part of important collections as those of MoMA, Centre Georges Pompidou, Tate Modern, Victoria and Albert Museum, Reina Sofía, The Fogg Collection, among others. Along with Fernando Cocchiarale, she published the book Abstracionismo geométrico e informal (Funarte, 1987). She teaches at the Higher Institute for Fine Arts (HISK), in Ghent, Antwerp, and at the Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage, in Rio de Janeiro.

Amy Tobin 
Lecturer in the Department of History of Art at the University of Cambridge, and curator at Kettle’s Yard. In 2017, she finished her PhD at the university of York, UK, with a thesis on art and feminism in the 1970s. Her research is published in journals such as British Art Studies, MIRAJ, and Tate Papers, as well as in the edited books Collaboration and its (Dis)Contents (Courtauld Books Online, 2017), Feminism and Art History Now (IB Tauris, 2017), and A Companion to Feminist Art (Blackwell, 2017). She is also co-editor of The Art of Feminism (Chronicle and Tate, 2018) with Lucy Gosling, Helena Reckitt, and Hilary Robinson. She is currently working on a monograph on feminism, art, and sisterhood.
Georgina G. Gluzman
Holder of a PhD in Art History and Theory from Universidad de Buenos Aires, where she also graduated. She is currently an assistant researcher of CONICET and teaches Argentinian art history and gender studies at Universidad de San Andrés. She is the author of Trazos invisibles. Mujeres artistas en Buenos Aires (1890-1923), published in 2016. 

Kaj Osteroth
An artist living in the urban fringe of Berlin, studied anthropology, art history, and fine art under Stan Douglas. In 2007, she embarked on a long-term project with Lydia Hamann: Fleeing the Arch. Painting together, the duo experiences the collaborative character of their practice as a constant renegotiation of issues of subjectivity, labor, empowerment, self-care, and friendship. Together, they develop strategies of queer-feminist knowledge production and refusal, while extending the understanding of the medium of painting into the realm of performance and care. Most recently, in 2018, their work was included in the Berlin Biennale.

Kanitra Fletcher
Doctoral candidate in the History of Art Department at Cornell University writing on the aesthetics and avant-gardism of black American modern art. Fletcher earned a BA in English Literature at Rutgers University in New Brunswick and an MA in Latin American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She is currently based in Houston, Texas, and is assistant curator in the Modern and Contemporary Art department of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and curator of video art for Landmarks, the public art program of the University of Texas at Austin.
Mariela Scafati
Queer printmaker, painter, and professor. She lives and works in Buenos Aires since 1997, after graduating at the Escuela de Artes Visuales in Bahía Blanca. Since 2010, she is an agent of the CIA – Centro de Investigaciones Artísticas. From 2000 on, she took part in several solo and collective exhibitions, having her work in collections of different museums in Latin America, Europe, and the United States. She also participated in collective and collaborative projects connected with printmaking, education, radio, and theater. She co-founded the TPS – Taller Popular Serigrafía in 2002, and is a member of the Serigrafistas Queer collective. Since 2016, she is also part of Cromoactivismo, along with Guillermina Mongan, Victoria Musotto, Daiana Rose, and Marina de Caro.
Natalie Bell
Associate Curator at the New Museum, New York, where since 2013 she has curated and co-curated over a dozen solo exhibitions, and co-curated several major group exhibitions, including Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon (2017), The Keeper (2016), and Here and Elsewhere (2014). Prior to her work at the New Museum, Bell was assistant curator for The Encyclopedic Palace, the International Exhibition of the 55th Venice Biennale (2013). She holds a BA in Philosophy from Barnard College and an MA in Philosophy from the CUNY Graduate Center, New York.