Philobiblon: No need for feminism? Bang! Pow! to that theory

Saturday, December 03, 2005

No need for feminism? Bang! Pow! to that theory

Specialist women's institutions, such as the Women's Library, or proposed exhibitions with a feminist theme, often have a tough time selling themselves to funders and even visitors because, it is assumed, women are now included in the mainstream.

A neat example of how wrong this claim often is comes from a US exhibition of comics - which treats them as "fine art". Only one trouble - every single artist included is male. This article from Art News Online says:

The curators of “Masters of American Comics” have provided plenty of grist for querulous [sic!] feminists. “These are 15 artists who used comics to express themselves,” says curator Carlin, who explains that selections were based on the criteria of craft and formal innovation. Of the marquee catalogue essayists who give personal glosses on the artists, the only women are New Yorker art editor Françoise Mouly (who also happens to be Spiegelman’s wife), who provides an informative take on Crumb, and art historian Karal Ann Marling, who writes on Frank King (“Gasoline Alley”). “These artists are mostly white, middle-class, male,” acknowledges Carlin, who readily admits that women artists got cut as the list narrowed from 40 to 15 artists. “But I felt a canon needed to be there, in order to be challenged.”

The article goes on to discuss how a certain, male-focused aethetic - "that values explosive drawing—SPLAT, BOOM, POW—and adventure stories" excluded women artists. So when's THEIR exhibition on?


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