Curating Feminism MASTERCLASSES — October 24, 2014

You are invited to apply to participate in one of three upcoming ‘Curating Feminism’ MASTERCLASSES – part of a series of events (exhibition, conference, wiki-a-thon, Masterclasses) organized by Contemporary Art & Feminism

Date, Time, Venue: Friday 24 October, 10-12, followed by lunch and plenary/follow-up session. Sydney University College of the Arts, Rozelle (there is a courtesy shuttle bus to/from main campus).

What is a Masterclass?

Each of the masterclasses will be an informal curatorial workshop of 15-20 participants, lead by an internationally experienced curator (see below). The masterclass session will be followed by lunch, and then a joint ‘plenary’ session to exchange ideas mooted in each masterclass for general discussion.

What will the Masterclasses be about?

The three masterclasses will be running concurrently. They are as follows:

1) Maura Reilly: Feminist Killjoy or Happy Humanist?
This masterclass will address some pressing issues within the context of contemporary art and feminism, especially as it relates to the practice of curating—including, but not limited to: What could equality in the art world look like? How important are quotas and statistics? ‘Is adding women to art history the same as producing feminist art history’ (to quote Griselda Pollock)? How far have we come since Nochlin’s 1971 essay, ‘Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists’? Are restrictive paradigms (like the art historical canon) still sufficient tool vis-à-vis today’s contemporary art? If not, what are the alternatives?

2) Michael Birchall: Curating in times of crisis: immaterial labour and the rise of the entrepreneur
Since the economic crisis of 2008, the way we operate in the global art world has changed significantly. Curators now produce an ever-increasing amount of content far beyond the exhibition format, to include projects, publications, screenings, fundraising events, symposia, and more. The current crisis continues to affect not only curatorial and artistic but all forms of labour. Can curatorial labour be subverted, altered or challenged? This masterclass will offer artists and curators an opportunity to present their own projects and discuss models for working in times of crisis, by adopting alternative curatorial strategies, and perhaps moving towards an entrepreneurial model against the neoliberal state.

3) Tess Allas and Miranda Samuels: ‘Girl genius’: redressing gender imbalance
Most Australian Art schools attract more female than male students and the representation of women in course syllabuses and the representation of women in the gallery system once students graduate is reversed.  There is a distinct lack of critical engagement of women artists throughout history and in the contemporary art discourse in the media, in arts reviews, in scholarly texts and in ‘in-class’ discussions. We would like to present an open discussion with participants to tease out some of the reasons behind these blatant gender imbalance issues that could help feed into our future exhibition and discussion panel idea of ‘Girl Genius’.

Dr Maura Reilly is founding curator of Elizabeth Sackler Centre for feminist art at Brooklyn Museum, NY, and co-curator with iconic feminist art historian Linda Nochlin of Global Feminisms, major international exhibition of feminist contemporary art at Brooklyn Museum 2007. Dr Reilly will be speaking on curatorial activism, a term she has coined to describe the practice of organizing art exhibitions with the principal aim of ensuring that large constituencies of people are no longer ghettoized or excluded from the master narratives of art. It is a practice that commits itself to counter-hegemonic initiatives that give voice to those who have been historically silenced and, as such, focuses largely on work produced by women, artists of colour, non-Europeans, and/or queer artists

Michael Birchall is a Berlin based curator, writer and the co-publisher of On Curating (, a journal devoted to curatorial practice, published by Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK), where he lectures in the postgraduate program in curating. Birchall is a recognised innovator in the field of activist curating, with particular interest in curating as social practice. He writes for contemporary art magazines such as Freize, Frieze d/e and C-Magazine.

Tess Allas, Director Indigenous Programs, UNSW Art and Design, has worked in the field of Aboriginal art and cultural practice since the early 1990s. She has curated and coordinated a number of exhibitions in Australia and internationally, including in Montreal, Canada for the Montreal First Nations Festival and the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection in the United States. In 2011 Tess was the recipient of an Arts Fellowship from Arts NSW for further study and investigation into the history and contemporary practice of shellworking in NSW Aboriginal communities. She has written hundreds of biographies on Aboriginal artists for the ‘Storylines Project’ which were published on the Design & Art Australia Online website, and published widely on Aboriginal contemporary art. Tess will be conducting the masterclass in conjunction with Miranda Samuels, Honours candidate at the University of NSW Faculty of Art & Design.