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Radical Feminist Artists Manifesto

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(this doesn't necessarily reflect my views, but I think it is an interesting and timely effort, and at least worthy of exposure and dialog -- Peter)

Radical Feminist Artists Manifesto

1.  For centuries men have dominated the art world.  Although some progress has been made, the truth is men make the art, run the galleries, and curate their museums.  The world of art is a boys club and they have put up a sign "No Girls Allowed."

2.  Women who make art are seen as lesser artists than men.  The term "Artist" itself is synonymous with men, which is why women are always given the qualifier as "Female," thus dividing artists into two categories; Artists and Female Artists, the latter of which has always been viewed as inferior to the other.

3.  It is a myth that art is judged on merit.  The art world is clearly based on favoritism.  An Artist's advancement is based on whom they know, not what they do, and the system favors men.  The truth is that if you are a woman you face a longer, harder, uphill battle for recognition than a man.

4.  Men have been creating art for such a vast amount of time it begs the question what more do men have to contribute?  One can only conclude that men have either failed to contribute all they can or they have nothing more to contribute to art.  The stagnation of the art world over the past years has made it clear that art from the male perspective is dead.  The only thing left for men to do is renounce their position of power and allow women equal opportunity to contribute to the art world.

5.  RFA is dedicated to aquiring equality for women in the arts through organizing women as a united whole and forcing a change in the system.  The time for individual skirmishes has passed.  RFA will achieve its goals through consciousness raisings, promoting women in the arts, and by any other means necessary.  We will achieve equality for women in the arts.

6.  RFA calls on all women to unite in the struggle, and for all men to renounce their positions of power and dedicate themselves to the struggle.  Not for women, but for their own humanity, and for the sake of the arts.  The time for equality is now.  This time we must go all the way.

To join, contact RFA at
r_f_artists@yahoo.com

Please be a good humanitarian and a credit to the art world.  Distribute this information as far and wide as possible.


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Thanks Peter. I'm interested to hear what some of our Collective members think about these statements...7/1/2004 10:04:41 AM
nick
As artists, do we even need to polarize ourselves by gender? Artists are an undervalued class in and of themselves. Though we pay out for our education just like a business major, a geology major, or a pre-law major might, we have a much more challenging time recouping our educational investment.

Arts programs (and thus the artists that promote, administer and participate in them) are some of the first to fall under the knife in both local and national budgetary discussions. In effect, society challenges our ability to generate livelihood as fine artists, implying such questions as "so what's it good for?" and "what does it do?"

Criteria are imposed by both funders and would-be buyers (color, acceptable subject matter, size, acceptable "archival" materials, etc...) that relegate the artist further and further into the grotto of the decorative and further and further away from pure expression.

Art's importance to the feminist movement cannot be overstated, and is a crucial rallying cry to awaken those complacent within the status quo. For that, I applaud the author of the manifesto. However, I believe that within the movement that is art itself, what is necessary is unity.
7/7/2004 11:09:19 AM
stargrazer
I dislike people who even label themselves artists. If you're called an artist by somebody else, okay, that's all right - critics need to use certain labels to convey what a person does creatively in general terms. But I find it humorously pretentious when someone says, "I'm an artist." Honestly, get over yourself. It's like saying, "I'm a potato chip." Great, you're a potato chip - but what kind of potato chip are you?

As for the above manifesto, I agree. Woman have been vastly under-represented in the art world over the years. I also agree that art is not judged on merit. But to give in to the fact and whine about this and then to continue on to say that it's about who you know determines how far you get (which, again, is true) is just a waste of energy. Stop complaining. Open your own damn gallery and begin your own nepotism. If this Radical Feminist Artist collective opened a gallery and two works were submitted, one from a woman and one from a man, you know whose piece would get accepted. It wouldn't be based on merit. It would just be the circle of nepotism that pads our entire world. For this reason, if you want to get anything done you need to do it yourself or with the help of those who want to help you out because of who you are and how you're related to them (i.e. an entirely OCC art show - not necessarily based on merit, despite the fact that there were plenty of interesting pieces in the show, but based on who the people were).

You may call me a curmudgeon, a paranoid, or a pessimist. I don't mind - I probably am all those things. But overall I'm a realist, or at least I like to think I am. Life is difficult and we all need all the help we can get. Get over your pretensions, get over your crutches and complaints, and just do what you gotta do. How constructive really is it to make statements like "The stagnation of the art world over the past years has made it clear that art from the male perspective is dead" - my guess is that the women involved in this particular group probably aren't the same women who are actually making great, insightful modern art. And yes, there are plenty who are. Have you been to a modern museum or gallery lately?

So while I agree with many of the statements presented in the above manifesto, I disagree with their proposals. Something has to be done but the above isn't the correct answer. My answer? DIY and STFU.
7/12/2004 10:18:44 AM
jgi
Well, I hope you won't dislike me for persisting in labeling myself an artist. There is no shame in it, and I don't feel that it is any more pretentious than a doctor calling themself a doctor. It is my primary mission in life, my first and most enduring passion.

These words you are reading are being laboriously typed with only my left hand, as I have just been released from the hospital from sustaining compound fractures in my right hand and wrist -- the primary tool of all that I love (creating art, creating music, writing, etc.). I will not have the use of my hand for a few months, and I may never regain its full function. My life as an artist has just been "radically" altered. What has not been altered is my resolve to be an artist.
7/15/2004 9:56:51 PM
stargrazer
I didn't mean to call you pretentious or anything... I was just having a bad day that day. And, unluckily for people around me, today is also starting off as a pretty grim endeavor.

Not as grim, though, as breaking your hand. I hope for a quick heal.
7/19/2004 10:03:51 AM
jgi
Thanks for the healing wishes. Don't worry, I'm notoriously hard to offend. I'm glad you are sharing your thoughts -- don't stop. Sharing opinions is what it's all about.7/19/2004 4:53:57 PM
stargrazer
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