Traces of feminist art: Temporal complexity in the work of Eleanor Antin, Vanessa Beecroft and Elizabeth Manchester

Feminist Theory 7 (3):309-331 (2006)
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Abstract

This article discusses the relationship between Eleanor Antin’s Carving: A Traditional Sculpture (1973) and Elizabeth Manchester’s All My Dresses With All My Shoes (2002) in terms of the differently structured temporalities of making and viewing through which the concept of femininity materializes in each work. Diachronic understandings of post-feminism, as a concept emptied of a former moment of political consciousness, are contested through my readings of artworks that call forth a complexity of tenses. The article argues that the connections and tensions between the two works, which are generationally distinct in terms of the political and cultural climate of their production, require a critical apparatus that suggests the simultaneity of differently valued temporal experiences. The notion of temporal play is further explored in relation to Vanessa Beecroft’s performance and film works VB29 (1997) and VB35 (1998). Here the traces of earlier feminist strategy, in which femininity is cast in relation to loss, are reconfigured in the failure to achieve the stasis of the photographic moment.

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