Archive Materials: Feminism, Performance and Art History in the UK

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in or organising a workshop, seminar, course


While the ‘archival turn’ of the 1990s has prompted much self-reflection among art historians, feminist interventions within the discipline have always encouraged such reflexive critique. Feminist art history encourages the scrutiny and assessment of motivations and methodologies from the very first steps of research, which can often be traced back to the archive. The writer Kate Eichhorn has recently identified two significant transformations in twenty-first century feminist practice: the shift from a linguistic to materialist archival framework, and a re-conceptualisation of the archive from a sepulchral repository, to active – and activist – site of knowledge production. The archive is a site where the ephemeral and the material intersect, and where knowledge is both produced and performed.

This workshop at the University of St Andrews took this expanded notion of the archive as its starting point to address the long history of feminist art production in the UK, building on the rich array of recent scholarship that has focussed on feminist work of the 1970s and 1980s to include significant eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth century precedents. In particular, we were interested in how art historians and curators can conserve and analyse what are often intrinsically transitory and site-specific practices, without losing a sense of their complexity, fluidity and challenges.

Co-organised with Victoria Horne (History of Art, University of Edinburgh)
Period7 Oct 2015
Event typeOther