1 February 2021
Year beginnings beg for our attention. How do we account? Given the threat of COVID-19, these routine re-evaluations take on a darker pall. If I died, how would I be remembered, and by whom? I consider this from the perspective of one who has worked the feminist homage.
For the last 30 or so years, I have interviewed or conversed with members of my own art and art activist communities. Three years ago, I published an interview with Carolee Schneemann concerning her major career retrospectives. We talked about gender, ecology, and militarism, about her coming into attention at that (late) moment of her life: “I’ve had wonderful assistance and amazing teams at the museums. The confidence, the devotion of the institution — it is just amazing. But part of me isn’t there. Part of me is like, ‘What happened? I can do anything and they like it now? This matters?’ I’m very divided.”
At that time, I also spoke with Agnès Varda and Barbara Hammer. These three great artists were all around 80 when we spoke; I was in my mid-50s. Each died shortly thereafter. They were enjoying the recognition of their careers, but each was “divided” in her own way given how late-in-coming this attention was. In previous conversations in the 1990s, Schneemann and Hammer, then about the age I am now, had focused upon a related preoccupation: a definitive lack of support, how they were not seen (enough), and how this had stalled and affected their careers.
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