The Unfinished Feminist Revolution. Radicalizing Reproduction in Feminist Performance Art

Elke Krasny

Abstract


The unfinished feminist revolution is at the heart of this essay. Globally, social reproduction remains a challenge to the feminist revolutionary project. The continuation of life, human and planetary survival, depends on caring labor. Today, caring in common is the new frontier of capitalist enclosure with care injustice deepening. The struggles for freedom to care and for social reproduction justice continue. They are connected to the deep wounds of coloniality within feminism with its painful conflicts among women over race, class, and reproduction. They are owed to the damaging neoliberal erosion of solidarity. Committed to advancing feminist politics that keep alive the feminist revolution and  to connecting art to the social and economic conditions of the world at large, the analysis focuses on a critical constellation of three feminist performances: Mierle Laderman Ukeles’  Hartford Wash: Washing, Tracks, Maintenance (Outside and Inside) at the Woodsworth Atheneum in Hartford Connecticut in 1973; Suzanne Lacy’s Cleaning Conditions at the Manchester Art Gallery and Manchester Arts Festival in 2013, and Patricia Kaersenhout’s The Clean Up Woman at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam in 2016. These performances make public the issue of social reproduction, in particular maintenance and cleaning, in the public sphere of the museum space.


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