Social art practices as feminist manifestos: radical hospitality in the archive.
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GAUSDEN, C. 2016. Social art practices as feminist manifestos: radical hospitality in the archive. Robert Gordon University, PhD thesis.
The research presents a practice-based examination of the politics and poetics of the manifesto form, drawing on feminist theoretical writing and activism alongside contemporary iterations of socially engaged art. It offers feminist manifestos as a lens through which to reconsider the form and intentions of socially engaged art, which is reframed in the light of these feminist insights as social art practice (Ross, 2000). To draw feminism alongside social art practice the research occupies the metaphorical territory of the manifesto in order to open up a dialogue with, and directly experience, unfolding forms of social art practice. The thesis is structured in the form of an archive, consisting of three distinct but interrelated concepts – the manifesto, hospitality and archives. This structure sets out to highlight the relational and political nature of archives suggesting their potential to be reimagined as manifesto forms. In addition the structure reveals how both manifesto and archive function as explicit, politically radical forms of hospitality. These topics are discretely contained in physical form within three archival boxes, one for each concept, and in an online audio archive ‘giving voice’ to each of the concepts. Taken as a whole the thesis articulates a missing feminist history within current critical discourse around social art practice - despite the early presence of important feminist artists like Lacy and Ukeles. This research explores the implications of this absence, seeking to acknowledge the effects it could have not only on feminism as a political and intellectual practice but on the criticality and depth of social art practice. It is possible to encounter the archive as a cartography that can be laid out, navigated and read in any order. This movement between forms of knowledge mirrors the subjects it approaches which are conceived as interstitial forms, negotiating multiple perspectives to produce active subjectivity. Each section juxtaposes knowledge about practice, engaging with history to search for precedents, and knowledge with practice as a generative method, curating events and producing written contributions. Moving between these two methodologies the research sets out to find an appropriate voice to articulate the complexities of social art practice and its feminist histories.