[-empyre-] Week 4: A Feminist (Humanist) Reconstruction of the Canon- Day 2

monisola gbadebo monisola.gbadebo at gmail.com
Fri Jun 27 22:25:07 EST 2014

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Historically women and people of color have been excluded from
so-called “high art” and intellectualism--often the subject/object and
rarely canonized as the creator of an aesthetic or idea. One thinks of
the numberless female nudes in the visual art canon, the countless
soprano arias--the ways in which women are frequently the subject of
the male gaze and masculine narrative constructs. We have been the
Madonna, the nymph, the object of desire--always under the gaze and
seldom the interpreter, critic, or creator. A quote that distills this
phenomena comes from the literary world,

““For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.”

— Virginia Woolf

Woolf is speaking not only to the lack of representation of feminine
creativity, but to the erasure of feminine attribution. In new music
where  the performer-composer dichotomy is challenged, this lack of
creative attribution is reinscribed when too often a woman who
composes the same music she then performs is only credited as the

There is also the persistence of thought that artists of color lack
the intellectual/aesthetic rigor of their European descended
contemporaries. George Lewis writes, “What I’ve been specifically
interested in here is how the idea of a black avant-garde
exists,oxymoronically— as if black, on the one hand, and avant-garde,
on the other hand...a conclusion that the avant-garde has been
exclusively Euro-American..formulation of the avant-garde as
necessarily not black”  (Power Stronger Than Itself , p 79.)

I am interested in the ways that women and artists of color have had
to go through a process of reconstructing their creative
identities---often through the reclaiming their images from the
masculine gaze (the prevalence of self-portraiture in feminist art),
the process of critical historical revision and narrative forms in
African-American music and literature, and through the reclamation of
control over the means of one’s sonic production and presentation
(instrument building Pauline Oliveros’s expanded instrument system,
Laetitia Sonami’s Lady’s Glove, and Pamela Z’s extensive use of her
own voice) and the development of festivals and online forums where
women curate and showcase and discuss their own work. I want to
discuss the many ways artists constructed as “non-normative” employ
technology towards the reclamation of their identities and place
themselves squarely in the realms high art and experimentalism.
Excited to hear all of your thoughts!

Monisola Gbadebo
monisola.gbadebo at gmail.com

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