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Memory Lab & Who’s afraid of feminist archives Opening Night

Jun 15, 2023
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Pen and Brush
29 E 22nd St
New York, NY 10010

Join The Feminist Institute as we open our pop-up Memory Lab and the exhibition Who is afraid of feminist archives at Pen + Brush from 6:00 to 8:00 pm on June 15.

Our Memory Lab aligns with our primary goal to increase access to feminist materials and empower individuals to preserve their analog and digital legacies by offering our archival services to the public. You can learn more and book an archival consultation here.

Who’s afraid of feminist archives?

In the beginning there was silence: until very recently, women had no place in official art history, no record, and no role models to look up to if they wanted to play a role in public life. This exhibition shows the role of feminist communities where mutual support made it possible for women to become artists in the 1970s New York. Accompanying The Feminist Institute Memory Lab, it presents the importance of feminist archives. At the time when the generation of the Second Wave feminists is getting older, preserving their archives becomes the matter of emergency art history. They hold stories of women who, unable to support a studio practice or even dream about a gallery representation, came together in various communities and created environments to make and show their art.

For artists like Betsy Damon, Dindga McCannon, Joan Logue, and Pat Lehman, community was crucial for survival and making art: a lesbian artists community, a Black women community, or that of women video- and filmmakers. Their agendas varied significantly, yet all had the same common aim: the empowerment of women.

Feminist communities can be strikingly varied, and it is only possible to tell their histories based on archives and oral history. Each artist’s archive is a portal to a larger artistic community, and their cultural, intellectual, and socio-political conditions.

The exhibition is curated by Monika Fabijanska, in collaboration with Helena Shaskevich.

The Feminist Institute is grateful to New York City Councilmember Keith Powers for making this event possible.

Image: Betsy Damon, 7,000 Year Old Woman, performance on Prince Street, New York, May 21, 1977, no. 2