Symposium: Looking for Jeanne – Rethinking Women’s Organising and Resistance with and through Art

When: 30 October – 1 November 2019
Where: Cinema Capitol and the Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm

Organised by the Royal Institute of Art and The French Institute in Stockholm

How can we critically reflect on and rethink women’s organising and resistance today? How does it relate to historical resistance? And what is the role of art and its potentiality with regards to women’s organising and resistance?

For the 3-day symposium we have invited thinkers, activists and researchers – Marwa Arsanios, Natasa Petresin-Bechelez, Binna Choi, Akwugo Emejulu, Kirsten Lloyd, Frances Stacey and Marina Vishmidt – to critically reflect together with us on women’s organising and resistance, the role of art, and its potential from a global perspective.

The symposium is the first public presentation in an ongoing 3-year artistic research project initiated by Professor and artist Petra Bauer, focusing on the role of aesthetics in women’s organising and resistance. Starting point is the film Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles, made by the Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman in 1975. Jeanne Dielman depicts the daily routines of a housewife over three days. When the film was released it became very important for European (white) feminist discussions on women’s conditions and the potential of feminist aesthetics. The film ends in an unresolved political situation and narrative. One could interpret the end as a proposal by the filmmaker Chantal Akerman, where she asks us – in her future – to continue looking into women’s conditions and resistance through film and art. We have taken her proposal seriously and ask: Who is resisting? What is being resisted? How and what does resistance look like? Who and what is a contemporary Jeanne Dielman? These are the questions posed within the symposium.

Looking for Jeanne – Rethinking Women’s Organising and Resistance with and through Art engages with different material conditions that women face and that potentially can explain forms of resistance in a global world order. Equally important is to critically reflect on historical forms of resistance that haven’t necessarily been acknowledge as such within conventional liberal ideas of agency and the political subject.

In the symposium the following main groups of questions will be addressed: 

How can we critically reflect on, and rethink women’s organising and resistance? What are women’s struggles, how can they be addressed, where do they take place and what is the role of aesthetics in these processes?

What is the role of art and its potentiality with regards to women’s organising and resistance?

Can we define form and aesthetics in broad terms that may encompass (creative) practice and forms of organising in political spaces?

 

Contributions by:

Petra Bauer is a Professor in Fine Art, artist, and initiator of the 3-year research project Looking for Jeanne. She is concerned with question of film as a political practice and sees film as a place where social negotiations can take place. Her work explores politically and aesthetically how women have organised and resisted historically and in a contemporary global world. She has had long-term collaborations with the feminist organisation Southall Black Sisters in London, the sex-worker led organization Scot-Pep in Edinburgh, and with The Women’s Centre in Tensta-Hjulsta in Stockholm, which primarily mobilises and organises women with a migration background. She is one of the initiators of the feminist platform k.ö.k (Women Desire Collectivity – http://kvinnocentertensta-hjulsta.org/kok/en/front-page/).

Natasa Petresin Bachelez is a curator, writer and editor, who lives in Paris. She is currently curating the Contour Biennale 9 entitled “Coltan as Cotton”, which looks at the intersections between practices of degrowth and decolonial thinking. Together with Giovanna Zapperi, she is curator of the exhibition “Les Muses insoumises. Delphine Seyrig between Cinema and Feminist Video” (LaM, Lille and Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid).

Binna Choi has been running the art organisation often just called Casco in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Last year they changed their name from Casco Office for Art, Design and Theory to Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons. This was a result of the artistic research program Composing the Commons (2013-2016), which was taken as the next step following the project “Grand Domestic Revolution”. Throughout this path, the commons from a feminist perspective, reproductive labor, life, community/diverse economics have been the recurrent issues for Binna Choi and the institution.

Marina Vishmidt is a writer, editor, and lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London. She is the author of Speculation as a Mode of Production: Forms of Value Subjectivity in Art and Capital (Brill, 2018) and co-author of Reproducing Autonomy (with Kerstin Stakemeier) (Mute, 2016). She publishes and takes part in academic and non-academic contexts, individually and collaboratively, on topics related to the political economies of art, social reproduction, and philosophy.

Kirsten Lloyd is a contemporary art historian and curator, working at the University of Edinburgh. Kirsten has been working on SR-related activities for many years. After organising panel discussions at Historical Materialism (2015) and the Association of Art Historians (2016) on the theme, she co-edited a special issue of Third Text on ‘Social Reproduction and Art’ in 2017.

Frances Stacey is a curator and producer based in Edinburgh and Newcastle. Since 2013 she has been a Producer at visual art organisation Collective, working closely on the film ‘Workers!’. Her practice often involves open-ended research and collaboration with others and she is the coordinator of a reading group on social reproduction, co-founder of art-run organisation Rhubaba and board member of Scot-Pep.

Marwa Arsanios is an artist, filmmaker and researcher, based in Beirut and Berlin, who reconsiders politics of the mid-twentieth century from a contemporary perspective, with a particular focus on gender relations, urbanism and industrialisation. Currently she is collaborating with the Kurdish women’s movement, to learn how they have developed methods for organising every-day life based on an ecofeminist practice.

Akwugo Emejulu is Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick. Her research interests include the political sociology of race, class and gender and women of colour’s grassroots activism in Europe and the United States. She is the author of several books including Minority Women and Austerity: Survival and Resistance in France and Britain (Policy Press, 2017) and Fugitive Feminism (Silver Press, 2020). She is co-editor of To Exist is to Resist: Black Feminism in Europe (Pluto Press, 2019).

Schedule and details:

30 October, Cinema Capitol: 17.30 – 21.15

Screening of Jeanne Dielman, 23 Commerce Quay, 1080 Brussels (Chantal Akerman, 1975). You need to buy tickets separately for the screening. Tickets are available here:

31 October, Cinema Capitol: 9.00 – 16.00

Presentations by Marwa Arsanios, Petra Bauer, Natasa Petresin-Bechelezand, Frances Stacey

1 November, Royal Institute of Art, Muralen: 9.00 – 18.00

Presentations by Binna Choi, Akwugo Emejulu, Kirsten Lloyd and Marina Vishmidt

The cost for the symposium is 100 kronor for 2 days, including coffee, tea and snacks. Please register for the symposium here:

We have a few free tickets available both for the screening and the symposium for those of you who would like to attend but do not have the financial means to do so. Please send an email to Petra.Bauer@kkh.se if you would like to claim a free ticket.

On 1 November a communal dinner for all participants takes place at the Royal Institute of Art’s Muralen. The cost of the dinner is 100kr and drinks will be available for purchase. Please send an email to Petra.Bauer@kkh.se if you would like to join the dinner.

Please do not forget to register as only a limited number of seats is available.

The symposium is organised by the Royal Institute of Art and the French Institute in Stockholm. Funded by The Swedish Research Council.

Addresses:

– Royal Institute of Art, Muralen, Flaggmansvägen 1, 11149 Stockholm
– Cinema Capitol, Sankt Eriksgatan 82, 11362 Stockholm