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Agitprop!: A Conversation with Martha Rosler, Nancy Buchanan, and Andrea Bowers


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The March issue of e-flux journal features a conversation among Martha Rosler, Nancy Buchanan, and Andrea Bowers that originally took place at the Brooklyn Museum last month, in connection with the exhibition “Agitprop!” The conversation, moderated by curator Saisha Grayson, touches on feminism, the “cycle of visibility” for women artists, and activist art. Here’s a snippet:

SG: From inside the art world, what do you feel like you can you do? What would you like to see change that we should be working on?

AB: Equality. I think it’s visibility and it’s economics. Personally I would, of course, love to get rid of patriarchal capitalism. But that’s probably not going to happen immediately. That’s going to take a longer time. But in the meantime, I would like to see women have equality with men, and have the same visibility, and also survive, financially.

SG: Very often, each of you are building platforms and creating spaces for other people to present and talk. And I want to open up the conversation about how this connects to feminism, because very often, I think, we do feel conscious about our own invisibility and how that is created. With the result being that feminist artists are constantly creating platforms and making space for other people to speak, too.

NB: I think that it’s a matter of deeply feeling and understanding our connection to other human beings. That’s it. It’s not me struggling to be at a certain level in the art world, or anywhere else. It’s a real visceral, literal connection. We’re all going to sink. Or we’re going to change.

AB: I don’t know. I learned about an alternative practice through feminism in the Seventies, studying you guys and some of your early practices. Why can’t we have models of collectivity? Why can’t we start to question authorship in some way? It’s about learning, too. I need to be around other artists I respect so I can grow and learn. Nancy’s always calling me: “There’s this protest,” “There’s this talk.” She keeps me on my toes. I need that. That’s what I need community to help me with. It’s sort of selfish, in a way, for personal growth. I’m so grateful for it.

Image: Martha Rosler, Afghanistan (?) and Iraq (?), (Detail), 2008. Photomontage. This image constitutes the right half of a diptych.