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If We Carry On Speaking the Same Language to Each Other, We Are Going to End Up Repeating the Same History
Organized by Mikaela Assolent and Flora Katz

November 10 - 22, 2014

At the end of her book This Sex Which Is Not One (1976), Luce Irigaray addresses another woman and imagines what their experience could be outside of a social construction created by men, for men. She observes, “If  we carry on speaking the same language to each other, we are going to end up repeating the same history.” For Irigaray, women’s liberation is not only about deconstructing imposed roles and identities, but also reappropriating and/or inventing a language of our very own, that allows us to invent and live entirely new stories. To do so, we must start from scratch and independently rebuild what was previously confiscated.

From the beginning of  the 1970s, many activists, in order to extricate themselves from logic that impeded unique expression, created women-only groups devoted to exploring and revealing a consciousness of their own. Due to oppression from various fronts, these “separatist” groups, who thought of themselves as being outsiders to the dominant discourse, eventually took on more complex dimensions: African-American feminists, radical lesbians, lesbians of  color descended from colonialism, slavery, or immigration, etc. Nowadays, along with queer thinking, we are going beyond the simple female/male dichotomy. For instance, we could conceive of  other transversal coalitions developing, such as “femmes”/“queens”, or “bears”/“butches”. However, how would we be able avoid repeating the same errors of  the past, whereby the action of excluding ourselves from a given group excludes others by the same token? Moreover, since the idea is to move away from restrictive identities, how can we make sure we do not simply recreate new restrictions based on different criteria? After all, we must not inadvertently close definitions where we expected to open up new possibilities.

Today, numerous artist collectives (the YES! Association, Community Action Center, CAGE, contemporary feminism), art centers (Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art., Feminist Art Gallery, Centre A, CAC Brétigny), magazines (Pétunia, George), and other projects (react feminism, Between the Door and the Street) are creating spaces of  thought and action that, outside the mainstream, are weaving new stories. Along with many other non artistic collectives (WORTH, SPARK, AF3IRM), they experiment other means of encounter and expression to pursue feminist questions and fight to be non-exclusionary.

How can we render these pursuits accessible in order to make us all feel implicated? Meanwhile, can the tools and methodologies of feminism be employed to make the field of contemporary art confront its own selection and rejection mechanisms?

In the spirit of  collective encounters, as conceived by Lois Weaver (The Long Table) and Malin Arnell (The Oncoming Corner) and inspired by texts which reflect on art as a space for a community to come (John Roberts, Art, ‘Enclave Theory’ and the Communist Imaginary, Third Text, July 2009) we invited participants to join in one of  a series of collaborative evenings taking place at PARMER in November 2014. Together, we will further investigate the questions evoked above. We would like to experiment using the sharing of experiences and knowledge to undo the inherent power dynamics of the groups assembled. Thus, we aim to consider these sessions as a space for the collective production and exchange of singularities.

Each person is invited to bring an element, prepared beforehand, that is as close as possible to their own area of expertise. The element, such as a text, anecdote, performance, video, object, etc., will be up for discussion according to the conversation format and staging chosen by its presenter. Listening, commenting, and contributing will be open, with participants being free to speak spontaneously, whenever possible. Each individual will thus be able to negotiate their own contribution to the session.

With the aim of  questioning even the parameters of  these sessions themselves, the procedure used to compose the participant groups will also be discussed. As a space open by invitation, PARMER seeks other strategies of  inclusiveness to redefine the boundaries of  what is public. What defines the level of  accessibility of  an artistic space? How this ephemeral community that we will constitute during the session can have strong common grounds and the right level of openness?

Monday, November 10, 2014
Arlen Austin, Amber Berson, Kylie Lockwood, Trista Mallory, Huong Ngo, Anna Ostoya, Julia Trotta, Cheyanne Turions

Saturday, November 15, 2014
Lindsay Benedict, Catherine Czacki, Alaina Claire Feldman, Ariel Goldberg, Chloé Rossetti, Jacqueline Mabey, Wendy Vogel

Monday, November 17, 2014
Jane Long, Rochelle Goldberg & Sara Constantino, Rit Premnath, Maia Asshaq, Saisha Grayson, Megan Heeres & Corrie Baldauf

Saturday, November 22, 2014
Maibritt Borgen, Leah DeVun & Risa Puleo, Joseph Imhauser, Liz Linden, Jordan Lord, Michala Paludan

This project is supported in part by the Danish Arts Foundation and the Visual Arts Department at the University of California San Diego.

*image: Extract from Syklus 2013, Michala Paludan, image courtesy of Abejderbevægelsens Arkiv og Bibliotek.

A series of  sessions following the same structure took place in Paris, France, at the artspace Chez Treize, in Fall 2013.
See documentation here (in French):


November, 2014