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  • Rachel Trusty

NEWS: Presentation at the 2017 International Arts in Society Conference in Paris, France

I had the honor today of presenting my paper "Feminine Gestures: Challenging Objecthood with White Performance and Black Performance Art" at the 2017 International Arts in Society Conference in Paris, France. This year's special theme was "Gestures that Matter" and my panel was a special panel created under this theme.

My presentation was part of the panel "Challenges to Representation". Other speakers in my panel included English Professor Dr. Christina Tourino from The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University in St. Joseph, Minnesota and Social Science professor Fiona Edmonds-Dobrijevich from the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia.

Dr. Tourino's presentation, "Visual Distortion and 'The Couple in The Boat' in Henry James' 'The Ambassadors', used James' literary work to help analyze specific art pieces and the use of optical illusions in them. Her description in the program describes her paper: "I study a scene in The Ambassadors framed and inflected by a painting, and argue that here Henry James undermines the ability of both literary and painterly arts to represent."

Edmonds-Dobrijevich is a professor and artists who works in watercolor. She described her personal practice and research and argued the connection between watermedia, water, and the feminine body. Her description in the program describes her presentation: "I explore watercolour painting's capacity to create oceanic imaginaries and interrogate relationships between geological and biological bodies, in context of posthuman feminism and Anthropocene ecologies."

My paper "Feminine Gestures: Challenging Objecthood through White and Black Feminist Performance Art" compared white feminist performance art and themes with black feminist performance in the early feminist movement.

My abstract:

Feminist Performance Art developed out of the political climate of the 1960’s and 70’s, the backlash over the anti-political art world and its exclusion of women and artists of color, and the use of role play in consciousness-raising events in the mainstream Feminist Movement. Performance allowed women artists to become active in confronting art history and the gender barriers that existed in the art world. But the Feminist Art Movement like Second Wave Feminism did not address the concerns of artists of color. White feminist performance, which was considered the mainstream performance art, focused on the male and female difference, specifically confronting traditional gender roles, domesticity, or subverting the historical ideal of the female body as a passive sexual object. Black Performance Artists were concerned with these issues of gender, but also issues of racial privilege, class issues, and their marginalization by the black art community. These artists were overcoming ideas around the black body as sex object, while also challenging the black body as an object of colonization.

My paper is currently in the publication review process for the International Journal of Arts Theory and History.

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