Archive, Care, and Conversation: Suzanne Lacy’s International Dinner Party in Feminist Curatorial Thought
PhD Publication Series
What happens when feminist activism turns art making into social practice? What happens when feminist conversations, at once joyful, contentious, conflictual, and generative, are being cared for through curatorial practice that mobilizes the archives of ephemeral, art-enabled conversations? Feminist artists of the 1970s concerned with developing a radical critique of heteropatriarchy used dinner parties and conversations for artistic exploration. The Dinner Party by artist Judy Chicago is the best-known example harnessing the representational power of a dinner party. Much less known is The International Dinner Party by Suzanne Lacy, who invited “sisters” around the world to hold dinner parties simultaneously on March 14, 1979 to create “a network of women-acknowledging-women”. This exemplar of feminist social practice rooted in activism is the starting point for this book. Feminist curatorial thought connects the archive of The International Dinner Party conversations to emerging archives of present-day conversations addressing feminist and queer-feminist politics tied to different histories, ideologies, and geographies. The present-day archives of conversations include Aktion Arkiv (addressing migratory realities in Sweden), radical practices of collective care (addressing caring labour conditions transnationally), Red Min(e)d (addressing the post-Yugoslav context), and Queering Yerevan (addressing local-diasporic Armenian realities).
Elke Krasny, PhD, is Professor at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. She is a cultural theorist, urban researcher, and curator with a focus on issues of justice and emancipatory, transformative practices in architecture, urbanism, and art addressing ecology, economy, labor, memory, and feminisms. Mapping the Everyday: Neighborhood Claims for the Future with the Downtown Eastside Women Centre and the Audain Gallery in Vancouver addressed resistance against poverty and sexual violence. Hands-on Urbanism. The Right to Green, shown at the 2012 Venice Biennale of Architecture, provided a history of informal urbanization through the lens of subsistence economies. Professor Krasny is the author and editor of numerous essays and books, most recently Critical Care. Architecture and Urbanism for a Broken Planet with Angelika Fitz (MIT Press, 2019).
PhD Publication Series
This publication is based on the thesis and exhibition completed as part of the PhD in Practice in Curating Program, a joint doctoral program of the Zurich University of the Arts and the University of Reading, supported by “swissuniversities.”
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