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by Angela Dimitrakaki and Nizan Shaked

Feminism, Instituting, and the Politics of Recognition in Global Capitalism

On the Material Conditions of Visibility
We start from the premise of a contradiction that applies more to artists engaged with feminism than to curators engaged with feminism. Despite any and every critique of the autonomy of art, art making is still underwritten by the expectation of autonomy, and autonomy clashes with the professionalisation of artists: that being an artist means making a living as an artist. As far as institutions go, the National Endowment for the Arts in the USA declared, on these very grounds, that “artists are workers” and not “outsiders,” already in 2005.[1] You can enact whatever critique as a feminist artist, but you also need to make your critique available through obtaining an income in the art labour market, of which the market for selling artworks is just a part, and where one can possibly make a living through teaching art, through competing for a grant, through securing a residency, and generally, through making some “cultural capital” transfer into income.[2] This contradiction is what feminist institutional critique as an artistic practice has in common with any other institutional critique as an artistic practice. This contradiction is the opposite of what we call “dialectic” in Marxism, for the conflict between artistic autonomy and the artist’s dependency on the art labour market (defined as above) never leads to a synthesis that moves us forward.

The feminist curator faces a lighter predicament, because despite the autonomisation of her labour through the freelancing of her work under what Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello, in 1999, defined as the “new spirit in capitalism,” she is still clearly a professional.[3] This is the case even if a curator does not see her profession being limited to a secondary function of just caring about a primary field called art—as implied by the oft-mentioned nowadays etymology of “curator.”  Curatorial labour is also pulled towards the “labour of love” field, as a version of autonomous choice/activity, but less so than the work of the artist.[4] An ethical curator, and we include by default feminist curators in this category, will do anything to pay the artists she is exhibiting a fee and/or help the artists secure at least the production costs for a commissioned piece for a show. This funding needs to come from somewhere. This somewhere is the art labour market—still as defined above, which includes, we stress now, the pivotal role, in most neoliberal national economies, of corporate sponsorship and the arts philanthropy culture in funding exhibitions and/or arts organisations and therefore in sustaining both art and curatorial labour as remunerated work.

How then are the feminist artist and the feminist curator connected? Τhe feminist curator is dedicated to reproducing the contradiction that the feminist artist faces. This has little to do with the political intentions of either. It has to do with the material conditions into which both are locked. Or, more accurately, these are the social relations as relations of production into which the feminist artist and the feminist curator are locked as a result of historically specific material conditions. It was already argued by Victor Burgin, back in 1986, that only work that is invisible escapes the market, and the feminist curator has defined her salient political cause, which is also her professional activity, as making feminist, and more broadly, women artists visible.[5] This commitment to visibility has been argued for countless times since the emergence of the feminist art movement in the 1970s. This commitment to visibility continues today, long after the feminist art movement associated with second-wave feminism has ceased to exist (not, of course, because the movement’s goals had been achieved). In the meantime, a most important development has been the rise of intersectional feminism, which has expanded the remit of visibility beyond gender through additional markers, including race and ethnicity, and also sexuality, attached to a politics of recognition.[6] Often, this politics of recognition enters the art institution (and institutions more broadly) in terms of a demand for “diversity.” In this short paper, we want to put forward some observations on how recognition acquires its meaning, how this meaning is manifest in actually existing art institutions, and conclude with a proposition concerning the premises of rethinking recognition in connection with the potential of feminist instituting.

On the Politics of Recognition and the Art Field
The politics of recognition fits the art field perfectly. In fact, insofar as the art field is organised around both the exhibition-form and the competition-form, recognition appears to be the field’s default mode of politics. We will not elaborate here on the (actually crucial) question of whether “recognition” is ontologically connected to social formations premised on and valuing as positive, inequality and hierarchy. A cursory Derridean test would suggest yes—for recognition becomes meaningful only if paired with its opposites: disregard and even disrepute—which means that the objective of equal recognition for all is a non sequitur. For recognition to occur, something must be left unrecognised. Gregory Sholette’s famous analysis of the art world as necessarily full of invisible/unrecognised “dark matter” so that the necessarily few stars can be visible/recognised essentially tests this logic and finds it correct.[7] In other words, recognition is embedded, at best, in the meritocracy culture that marks the bourgeois era overall.

At some point in the evolution of capitalism, however, recognition, via meritocracy, became neoliberalism’s major ideological weapon.[8] This meant that it was, and still is, perceived as central to liberalism, which imagines that a society giving everyone the chance to ‘develop’ will naturally lead to the best accruing rewards. And so, the natural inequality that will arise out of culturally ensured equal opportunity will, in a familiar loop, be the justification for the competition principle (that the market ideology, and especially the deregulated market ideology, needs) to carry on. This is the logic that presently informs all art institutions that are committed to equality and diversity but are forced to also honour the competition principle. It is the culture that strives for inclusivity, while it revels when a figure signifying difference scoops an award.

Given that the contemporary art world formed in the 1990s, which means that it was inaugurated as global in the context of neoliberalism going global after 1989, we are interested in this even more specific analysis of the historical contextualisation of the politics of recognition. Our interest stems from the fact that the politics of recognition bears historic connection with second-wave feminism as the cradle of the feminist art movement. As feminist political theorist Nancy Fraser put it, “In the seventies and eighties, struggles for the ‘recognition of difference’ seemed charged with emancipatory promise.”[9] And yet, in 2000, one decade into globalisation, Fraser observed that the politics of recognition had served to displace the politics of wealth redistribution.

We are facing, then, a new constellation in the grammar of political claims-making—and one that is disturbing on two counts. First, this move from redistribution to recognition is occurring despite—or because of—an acceleration of economic globalization, at a time when an aggressively expanding capitalism is radically exacerbating economic inequality. In this context, questions of recognition are serving less to supplement, complicate and enrich redistributive struggles than to marginalize, eclipse and displace them. I shall call this the problem of displacement. Second, today’s recognition struggles are occurring at a moment of hugely increasing transcultural interaction and communication, when accelerated migration and global media flows are hybridizing and pluralizing cultural forms. Yet the routes such struggles take often serve not to promote respectful interaction within increasingly multicultural contexts, but to drastically simplify and reify group identities. They tend, rather, to encourage separatism, intolerance and chauvinism, patriarchalism and authoritarianism. I shall call this the problem of reification.[10]

Twenty-one years later, we hardly need to point that “the problem of reification” has morphed into an exclusionary politics (we cannot examine in this short essay how far such exclusionary politics need to be taken in order to be associated with political developments worthy of the designation “neo-fascism” in certain cases).[11] This is not unrelated to the problem of the “acceleration of economic globalisation,” which Fraser mentions. What Fraser could not have foreseen is that this acceleration would lead to a fragmentation of traditional power blocs and the rise of centrifugal tendencies so that, as American hegemony was being increasingly challenged by China, more contenders for a bigger slice of the global pie would seek autonomy (the case of Brexit tied to Britain “going global” should suffice as an illustration).[12]

Has this found expression in the art world? Absolutely. The ‘local’ versus ‘the global’ stance not only did not disappear but, if anything, it now raises fewer eyebrows than in the past. What ‘local’ artists have learned from art biennials and similar periodic mega-shows of a resolute international agenda is that they would be seriously marginalised in such shows while the often scant local resources would also be siphoned to these ‘prestigious’ curatorial projects representing the idea of a global (art) world.[13] Needless to say that these prestigious curatorial projects would often have notably progressive agendas, including feminist ones. But in a culture play where “recognition” would be given multiple roles, the recognition of women’s achievements might be better represented by an international star than by a local woman artist.      

This conflict between local and global did not remain contained in the art biennial ring—key tendencies of the expression of the competition principle in art rarely remain contained. Rather, they tend to find trans-institutional expression. In January 2021, Cara Ober pointed to this conflict in museum acquisition policy. Her article title was phrased as a question: “The BMA [Baltimore Museum of Art] spent $2.57 million on art by 49 women in 2020. Guess how many are from Maryland?”[14] As you might have guessed, not that many. Ober seems puzzled by this, especially given the efforts made (she provides concrete examples) for conferring visibility to local artists. We are less surprised: ‘the local’ consistently finds its meaning in an art world where ‘the international’ or even ‘the global,’ and certainly ‘the non-local,’ refers not to geography but to a quality that is highly desirable: broad recognition. Standard textbooks, including Julian Stallabrass’s popular Contemporary Art: A Very Short Introduction from the mid-2000s, describe an art world where internationalism is the principal measure of value.[15] Until the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the art world had devised specific mechanisms, including the art biennial phenomenon, that permitted the across-borders circulation of a limited number of artists (or artists’ names) versus a mass of ‘local’ artists, who would frequently complain when an international event would descend on their locality to render visible only their invisibility. It is unclear how and why, in a culture favouring internationalism and the non-local, a museum collection would invest on the carrier of ‘lesser value’ if it can afford higher value—and by ‘culture’ we mean the general modality of business: international firms matter more than local ones. The art sector is no different. And where does the imperative of internationalism come from? It comes from capital’s necessary attachment and dependency on growth. Globalisation as such is the form of growth that capitalism achieved at this imperialist point in its development. All this is to say that any expectations about the formal art world (and museums are formal institutions) diverging from the general tendencies of capitalism at a given moment in its development need to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Ober, in fact, objected to the acquisition policy by saying: “I do not see any statistical results, or mention of diversity in price point, medium, geographical location, and/or time period, all criteria that would help to measure how much more diverse the BMA’s collection is in 2021 versus 2019.” But the criteria for a museum that seeks to achieve recognition for itself in the competitive museum universe—especially as concerns “geographical location,” which Ober chose to highlight in the title of her article—are written in everyone’s head through repeated priorities in museum collections, well, elsewhere.

Is it everywhere the same? The divide between ‘world museums’ with international collections and ‘periphery museums’ with local/regional/national collections gives us a clue, as does the fact that not all national collections are equal: those of countries of the ‘centre’ whose artists signify internationalism are of a higher standing than those of the ‘periphery’ whose artists signify national identity. Yet, let us look at the matter from a different angle: there is a tendency to separate the European and the American museum structure as the publicly funded versus the privately funded. But this conceals both the simple fact that European governments have been hard at work passing arts funding into private hands, and the even deeper fact that whether wealth is redistributed through taxation or the avoidance thereof (tax foregone in lieu of a nonprofit donation)—in both cases, the state structure for arts funding serves the interests of the upper class. The problem with attending to recognition alone, with attempting to solve white supremacy or misogyny by attending to diversity, is that the system set in place makes efforts pithy. As Ober writes:

In October I inquired about the demographics currently measured in the BMA’s collection, and was given records that go back to 2017. The stats revealed a consideration for race and gender but not historic time period vs. contemporary, geography, market presence, medium, gallery affiliation, or price point, which are all issues of diversity and omission the collection should strive to address in the future. There’s also an issue of gifts and donations, a prominent way that the museum acquires art. For me, the math doesn’t add up here because the majority of donations to the museum continue to prioritize the work of white male artists, with the museum reporting about 60% of donations by white male artists between 2017–2020.

The BMA is, here, a model. We see a similar problem at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art that sold a Rothko to diversify the collection, while taking on extended loan a predominantly white-male collection and committing to exhibiting it extensively.[16] And, as we write these lines, the Indianapolis Art Museum at Newfields is under fire for having placed a job ad for a director who would attract “a broader, more diverse audience while maintaining the Museum’s traditional, core, white art audience” (later amended to “traditional core art audience”).[17] Or, let’s note the difficulty of art institutions in cutting ties with a wealthy collector who might be even accused of sexual harassment and “racist imagery.”[18] These are not occasional moral failures on the part of cultural institutions. We know that the art museum has been a site of sustained privilege, which is why emancipatory movements have put forward a political enquiry about the art institution: one that examines, explains, and critiques power and the interests that the always specific articulation of power serves. In many cases, artists, curators, scholars, and activists have rightly identified the site of discrepancies that relate to the specificity of power at the boardroom, where the limited perspective of wealthy collectors that govern decision-making are steeped in class and self-interest. Their proclivities tend to differ from the constituencies that the inclusive museum purports to serve.

On Recognition and Class
Addressing the problem of structural and institutional racism, Porcia Moore underscores that a body of “cartography” for racial equity in museums already exists, and what is lacking is its implementation. She demands of museums and their governing strata to show us their maps: “Tell us when you replace those board members with community members who reflect your community and/or the representation needed to increase equity, access, and inclusion.”[19] One of several realistic and idealistic demands, what is veiled as an emphasis on the local functions as a structural abolitionist model. Moore wants to see: “Not members who are deemed ‘respectable’, ‘magical’, or ‘vetted’ through your personal social networks. Select members who will challenge and stretch you; not those with social capital that aligns with your views.” The problem remains that board-member social capital only follows in the wake of their actual capital—their wealth and promise to remain wealthy—which is dependent upon the staggering poverty of the rest of society. In Europe, the top 1% has 11.3% of the national income against a bottom 50% that has a mere 19.5%; in North America the top 1% has 18.7% of the national income against a bottom 50% that has a mere 13.7%; these figures do not include inherited or other wealth, and it is worse everywhere else.[20] These statistics are not a temporary glitch. The Derridean paradigm, where recognition is only enabled by its opposite condition, is, in effect, a manifestation of the concrete contradiction between capitalism and labour. We therefore concur with Fraser that a politics of recognition cut off from the demand for wealth redistribution is a problem for intersectional feminism in its efforts to institute differently.

But if no issue of recognition can be resolved without redistribution, if to resolve the stratified contradictions of the feminist, or abolitionist (aiming to abolish police, prisons, or more) artist and curator we must first resolve the overwhelming problem of capitalism, how can we tackle it, indeed, from the ground up? A wave of boycott campaigns by artists and other art workers has yielded several triumphant removals from board membership (an issue in American art since at least the 1970s), or naming rights, those whose wealth has been made through war, prison, or big pharma profiteering, the destruction of the ecosystem, and so on.[21] Although we could claim that removal of unethical sponsorship, ultimately, is also symbolic, the power of these political pressures and their outcomes lies in what frightens museums the most: they are slippery slopes. From the museum’s perspective: who knows what type of demands could follow? Indeed, a wave of museum worker unionisation is struggling for fair pay, benefits, and treatment from the USA to Greece. Would these demands be limited to the art field? Where does the art field begin to bleed into the social field?

It is here that compromise is defeat. To quote Angela Davis: “Feminism involves so much more than gender equality. And it involves so much more than gender. Feminism must involve a consciousness of capitalism.”[22] A press release from the Guerrilla Girls, who cancelled their Phaidon contract because the press is owned by MoMA board member Leon Black, who has strong ties to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, is a case in point.[23] They ask:

How could Black, a shrewd businessman and guy around town, not have known his money enabled Epstein to continue abusing and trafficking girls right up to his suspicious death in 2019? Was Black complicit? How to explain MoMA’s silence? And why does MoMA tolerate people like Black and [Glenn] Dubin on its Board in the first place? If we’re stuck with a system where our tax-exempt, educational institutions have to depend on money from the superrich, they should at least choose Board members who make the world a better, not a worse place.[24]

Despite the Guerrilla Girls’ admirable ethical gesture, we need to understand the politics that informs a demand for choosing board members that make the world a better place. Their statement implies, to us at least, that shared interests do exist and that we can all agree on what “better” means. Yet, given many corporations’ efforts to sustain climate disaster alone, this assumption seems shaky. Or, in another example, do men who don’t generally do housework share interests with women who generally do? And does the capitalist class share interests with the much-expanded today class of precarised workers (including art workers)? Our questions are rhetorical. It is precisely the different and often antithetical interests of social groups locked in relations of production and reproduction in the current status quo that have required feminism to define itself as a politics, as a praxis addressing interests and power. The absence of criteria for defining for whom the world might be a better place points to liberalism as the dominant ideology—and through it, the inability of liberalism to imagine itself, let alone act, beyond its dependency on capitalism—which, it believes, can improve if reformed. Committed, at least in principle, to gender, race, sex, and other forms of equality, liberalism is nevertheless steeped in the notion that the system can be fixed using its own critical parameters, and that there is such a possibility of board-member wealth being benign. But, in the current arrangement, board members can either foot the bill, or they can make the world a better place. They cannot do both: the accumulation of wealth is necessarily dependent on the immiseration of the vast majority of the earth’s population—and note that the statistics of the Global Income Inequality 2021 above do not even touch on the transfer of value from the Global South to the Global North, which also benefits the latter’s working population, so that North America and Europe can appear less horrible than the rest of the world.[25] What starts as a strong gesture typically ends with weak surrender to the world in which we are ‘stuck.’

To become unstuck, we must change the board, demographically and structurally—in effect, to eliminate its existence by unlinking the body that governs and the body that pays. The money we need to realise Moore’s vision can be made through taxation instead of through philanthropy, for example. This would be a first step, though capital might well oppose this kind of reform. For, in neoliberalism, not all reforms are acceptable—which is why ‘class’ may feature in sociological analyses of inequality under pressure from intersectionality theory but tends to be dropped from art institutional policy that interprets intersectionality in terms of other markers: sexuality, ethnicity, ableism, ageism, and so on. And yet, the proposed first step would be a pragmatic, immediate solution that would not require nice patrons with ‘benign’ wealth. It doesn’t need patrons at all. Indeed, the question we want to raise is whether more creative solutions might exist if we wouldn’t accept the parameters of the nonprofit system as our only possibility. To recapitulate, a nonprofit system assumes a profit system, and a system driven by a profit imperative is necessarily a drive of immiseration and destruction. From social reproduction analyses to discussions of the rate of profit to fall (TRPF) to critiques of the Global North/Global South divide and of the climate disaster causes, a vast body of literature empirically shows that capitalism can only profit by expropriation and exploitation, if reality itself is not proof enough.[26]

We understand, of course, that such a proposition, a reconfiguring of the politics of recognition through a consideration of class divides, would test the potential and limits of our democratic apparatuses—for it would indicate that the distribution of positions of power in the highly prestigious realm of art (traditionally bearing a privileged class stamp) might become unmoored from class privilege. And this would be a complicated operation, for class privilege rules both meritocracy (which we mentioned above) and, more broadly, access to specific fields of knowledge (that often relate to the right to be knowledgeable about ‘high’ culture). Not even postmodernism, with its promise of both connecting selected progressive social movements to art and fusing art and popular culture (revealing what Rosalind Krauss called “the myth of originality”), succeeded in ridding us of the recognition of the new and therefore of the imperative to access the knowledge necessary for such recognition.[27] The democratisation of the art field has proven to be something more than providing museums with cafés and shops selling posters of artworks or forcing “performance indicators” on the sector in terms of visitor metrics, a trend for now forestalled because of Covid-19. This pause—if it is a mere pause—provides valuable time for a rethinking of if and how the demands of emancipatory social movements have so far been accommodated by a politics of recognition in the latter’s concrete historical conditions of shaping. Do the politics of recognition necessarily meet a glass ceiling in the art field that is also the glass ceiling of feminist instituting? Is the glass ceiling metaphor appropriate, or does it itself come from the arsenal of liberalism, always keen to use metaphors that promise at least a fracture if not smashing? Unlike some previous questions we posed, these are not rhetorical ones: we acknowledge that in the absence of a concrete revolutionary prospect, reforms—such as the suggested reform of museum boards—can be a partial way forward. What is a concern, however, is when the reforms that are allowed block the revolutionary imaginary, when they make the horizon shrink to what is strictly visible as the known mechanisms for generating value. A new wave of feminist instituting must start from undoing the politics of recognition as such a mechanism.

Nizan Shaked is professor of contemporary art history and museum and curatorial studies at California State University, Long Beach. Her book, The Synthetic Proposition: Conceptualism and the Political Referent in Contemporary Art (Manchester University Press, 2017), is the winner of the 2019 Smithsonian American Art Museum Eldredge Prize for Distinguished Scholarship. Her book Museums and Wealth: The Politics of Contemporary Art Collections is forthcoming with Bloomsbury Academic in 2021.

Angela Dimitrakaki is a writer and art historian working across Marxism and feminism. Her books include Gender, ArtWork and the Global Imperative (2013), Politics in a Glass Case (2013, co-edited with L. Perry), and Economy (2015, co-edited with K. Lloyd). She co-edited the special issues on social reproduction and art (2017) and antifascism/art/theory (2019) for Third Text. She directs the MSc in Modern and Contemporary Art at the University of Edinburgh.

[1] See NEA, Artists in the Workforce 1990 - 2005, https://www.arts.gov/sites/default/files/ArtistsInWorkforce_ExecSum.pdf For a critical contextualisation, see Angela Dimitrakaki, “Extensive Modernity: On the Refunctioning of Artists as Producers,” in A Companion to Modern Art, ed. Pam Meecham (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 2017).

[2] We place “cultural capital” in quotation marks to indicate that we are not referring to capital in the Marxist sense (which is highly specific).   

[3] Luc Boltanski and Ève Chiapello, The New Spirit of Capitalism, trans. Greg Elliott (London: Verso, 2018).

[4] On this, see Danielle Child, Helena Reckitt, Jenny Richards, “Labours of Love: A Conversation on Art, Gender, and Social Reproduction,” Third Text 31/1 (2017): 147 - 168.

[5] Victor Burgin, The End of Art Theory: Criticism and Postmodernity (London: Macmillan, 1986), 190. His exact phrasing is “in short, only work which remains invisible may remain untouched by money” (emphasis in the original).

[6] The term is credited to the work of Black feminists and specifically Kimberlé Crenshaw (1989), though we would also look back, including to the work of the Combahee River Collective (Boston 1974 -1980). See Kimberlé Crenshaw, “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Anti-discrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Anti-racist Politics,” University of Chicago Legal Forum 1 (1989): 139-167. See also “The Combahee River Collective Statement” (1977) at https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/combahee-river-collective-statement-1977/, accessed 15 February 2021.

[7] Gregory Sholette, Dark Matter: Art and Politics in the Age of Enterprise Culture (London: Verso, 2010).

[8] Jo Littler, Against Meritocracy: Culture, Power, and Myths of Mobility (London and New York: Routledge, 2018).

[9] Nancy Fraser, “Rethinking Recognition,” New Left Review 3 (May/June 2000): 107.

[10] Ibid., 108.

[11] On this in relation to art, see the special issue “Anti-Fascism/Art/Theory,” Angela Dimitrakaki and Harry Weeks, eds, Third Text 33, no. 3 (2019); and esp. Nizan Shaked, “Looking the Other Way: Art Philanthropy, Lean Government and Econo-fascism in the USA,” and Larne Abse Gogarty, Angela Dimitrakaki, and Marina Vishmidt, “Anti-Fascist Art Theory: A Roundtable Discussion.”

[12] Indicatively, see Mark Landler, “Boris Johnson’s ‘Global Britain’: Inspired Vision or Wishful Thinking?,” The New York Times, 3 July 2020, accessed 12 February 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/03/world/europe/johnson-brexit-hong-kong.html.

[13] The controversy around the impact that Documenta 14 had on the Athenian art scene is a well-known example. Politician and economist Yanis Varoufakis noted: “Documenta supposedly came to Greece to spend, but instead they sucked up every single resource available for the local art scene. The few resources that Greece’s private and public sectors make available to Greek artists, like the Aegean Airways sponsorship, went to Documenta. The Athens municipality gave Documenta a building for free. Many hotels donated rooms for free. Buildings at the Athens School of Fine Arts were made available for free, and now the graduating students have nowhere to host their degree show.” See Iliana Fokianaki and Yanis Varoufakis, “We Come Bearing Gifts,” Art Agenda, June 7, 2017, accessed 29 January 2021, https://www.art-agenda.com/features/240266/we-come-bearing-gifts-iliana-fokianaki-and-yanis-varoufakis-on-documenta-14-athens .

[14] Cara Ober, “The BMA spent $2.57 million on art by 49 women in 2020. Guess how many are from Maryland?,” Bmore Art, 22 January 2021, accessed 29 January 2021, https://bmoreart.com/2021/01/the-bma-spent-2-57-million-on-art-by-49-women-in-2020-guess-how-many-are-from-maryland.html.

[15] Julian Stallabrass, Contemporary Art: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006; new edition 2020). The observations we point to were already made in the book’s original appearance as Art Incorporated from 2004.

[16] Nizan Shaked, “Racial and Economic Inequality: the SFMOMA and the Private Fisher Collection,” College Art Association Annual Conference, 11 February 2021.

[17] See https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/feb/14/indianapolis-museum-of-art-at-newfields-white-art-audience-job-listing, accessed 15 February 2021.

[18] See Matthew Weaver, “Tate Cuts All Ties with Controversial Patron Anthony D’ Offay,” The Guardian, 4 September 2020, accessed 15 February 2021,https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2020/sep/04/tate-cuts-all-ties-with-controversial-patron-anthony-doffay,. We call attention, in particular, to the last two paragraphs of this article.

[19] Porchia Moore, “Cartography: A Black Woman’s Response to Museums in the Time of Racial Uprising,” The Incluseum, 10 June 2020, accessed 29 January 2021, https://incluseum.com/2020/06/10/cartography-a-black-womans-response-to-museums-in-the-time-of-racial-uprising/.

[20] See Luca Ventura, “World Wealth Distribution and Income Inequality 2021,” Global Finance, 11 January 2021, accessed 29 January 2021, https://www.gfmag.com/global-data/economic-data/wealth-distribution-income-inequality?fbclid=IwAR0ODdJ1aC1-UgaBw55XobCulzz-iA244TnrrWklQWHk65GS5ZpIc1fk5vE.

[21] “Disgust with the museum system was at the heart of AWC [Art Workers’ Coalition in the USA], and art institutions were a logical target in artists’ eyes, especially because of their powerful boards of trustees that had members like the Rockefellers,” notes Julia Bryan Wilson in her book, Art Workers: Radical Practice in the Vietnam War Era (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009), 28. They built upon the work of Black activists, especially the Black Emergency Cultural Coalition that was formed in 1968 to protest the white supremacy of the Metropolitan Museum. See Bridget R. Cooks, “Black Artists and Activism: Harlem on My Mind (1969),” American Studies 48, no. 1 (2007): 5-39.

[22] Angela Davis, Feminism & Abolition: Theories & Practices for the 21st Century, lecture at the University of Chicago, 2013.

[23] On 22 March 2021, it was announced that Leon Black was stepping down from his chief executive post at Apollo Global Management, LLC. See Matt Egan, “Billionaire Leon Black is leaving Apollo following scrutiny over ties to Jeffrey Epstein,” accessed 22 March 2021, https://edition.cnn.com/2021/03/22/investing/leon-black-apollo-epstein/index.html.

[24] Hakim Bishara, “Guerrilla Girls Canceled Phaidon Book Deal Over Ties to Leon Black, Jeffrey Epstein Associate,” Hyperallergic, 1 February 2021, accessed 1 February,  2021, https://hyperallergic.com/618725/guerrilla-girls-phaidon-book-deal-leon-black/. Glenn Dubin is a billionaire hedge fund manager with close ties to Jeffrey Epstein. Indicatively, see William D. Cohan, “For Billionaire Glenn Dubin, the Epstein Saga Isn’t Over,” Vanity Fair, 4 September 2019, accessed 22 March 2021, https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/09/glenn-dubin-epstein-questions.  

[25] On this, see indicatively Zak Cope, The Wealth of (Some) Nations: Imperialism and the Mechanics of Value Transfer (London: Pluto Press, 2019).

[26] TRPF is a concept that is key to Marxian economics. It says that profit has a tendency to decrease in relation to the capital invested, which constitutes a major problem for capital that therefore needs to constantly expand/grow/enclose/subsume. For an introduction to the concept, see the detailed Wikipedia entry https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tendency_of_the_rate_of_profit_to_fall, accessed 22 March 2021.

[27] Rosalind Krauss, The Originality of the Avant Garde and Other Modernist Myths (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1985).


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Issue 52

Instituting Feminism


by Helena Reckitt and Dorothee Richter

by Secretariat for Ghosts, Archival Politics and Gaps (SKGAL)

Emelie Chhangur interviewed by Jennifer Fisher

by Husseina Hamza, Joyce Jacca, Tracey Jarrett, and Janna Graham

by la Sala (Alba Colomo & Lucy Lopez)

by Alex Martinis Roe and Helena Reckitt

by Romane Bernard, Sofia Cecere, Thelma Gaster, Jeanne Guillou, Barbara Lefebvre, Séraphine Le Maire, Oksana Luyssen, Rose Moreau, Jeanne Porte, Laurence Rassel, and Miska Tokarek

by Ann Sutherland Harris, Daria Khan, Rosa Martínez, Camille Morineau, Maura Reilly, and Catherine de Zegher

by Ève Chabanon, Anna Colin, and Madeleine Planeix-Crocker