Encounters in the Virtual Feminist Museum: Time, Space, and the Archive by Griselda Pollock

Continuing her feminist reconceptualization of the ways we can experience and study the visual arts, world renowned art historian and cultural analyst, Griselda Pollock proposes a series of new encounters through virtual exhibitions with art made by women over the twentieth century. Challenging the dominant museum models of art and history that have been so exclusive of women’s artistic contributions to the twentieth century, the virtual feminist museum stages some of the complex relations between femininity, modernity and representation.
Griselda Pollock draws on the models of both Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas and Freud’s private museum of antiquities as well as Ettinger’s concept of subjectivity as encounter to propose a differencing journey through time, space, and archive. Featuring studies of Canova ‘s Three Graces and women artist’s modernist reclamations of the female body, the book traverses the rupture of fascism and the Holocaust and ponders the significance of painting and drawing in their aftermath.
Artists featured include: Georgia O’Keeffe, Josephine Baker, Gluck, Charlotte Salomon, Bracha Ettinger and Christine Taylor Patten.


‘feminist intervention in art histories’ is the virtual feminist museum

Pollock delves into the turbulent waters of gender in art, and the importance and significance of feminist art.

The male gaze transfers to women in that men watch women, and women watch themselves being watched. The world is circular; The cycle of life, love, and death is circular, and as such, the role women play in art both serves to empower themselves, but also to propagate the patriarchic rendering of the female identity. Pollock understands that though there is an unjust system in place to judge feminist art, but also uncovers that because of the speciality of feminist art and the struggle it postures, feminist art gives itself a space within which no other art may reside, and the discussions such art instigates may only be propagated by the women who’ve created the art.

The lexicon Pollock chooses to draw from inscribes her text with an air of authority and high intellect, making for a very dense read, and difficult to understand for those who have not had frequent interactions within the larger art world conversation. Pollock proves her own breadth of knowledge on art and the world within which it resides, her own understanding of its laws and shortcomings. However, there is also a seemingly repetitive nature to her argument, drawing from several sources, yet never diving deeper than the surface issues of the juxtaposition of feminine to masculine art.

As I was reading, I found myself thinking of other female artists who have written and created and fought for the betterment of feminist art. I thought of the traditional feminist art, the more commonly known movement of the 70s.

Guerrilla Girls is a group of women who have been fighting for the rediscovery of what it means to be a female artist, to bring out of the dark the women of the past whose art inspired, but never received the proper recognition they were due. I was reminded of some of their work while reading Pollocks ideology on the relationship of art making and psychology.





4 Comments Add yours

  1. davideyepes says:

    Which are Pollock’s views on the relationship of art-making and psychology?
    How can we be more inclusive of feminist ideas in museums or art spaces?
    When is art consider feminist? Who considers it feminist the viewers or the artist?


  2. Nejla says:

    I would definitely agree, as we had discussed this last night. I think the matter which is being discussed is extremely valuable and critical for the further development of both feminist and art historic theory, and although very knowledgable about the issue, the way in which it was written made me miss out on the smallest details of what she was discussing. Her analysis dove so deep that this is definitely not a book before bed type of read.


  3. mgb says:

    Much of Pollock and many art historian’s work is quite dense and this makes me wonder about the impact of their work. She proposes a really interesting prospect that could allow female artist’s work to be looked at through its own critical lens, but what good is that if readers have a difficult time deciphering her work! I think the repetitive nature you brought up exists ensure the reader sees her intentions. I would really like to read this book because her work on female artists at the turn of the 20th century enables a significantly more nuanced evaluation of these artists.


  4. The circularness of the female identity you speak about is such an unfortunately clever system put in place against us that it is truly surprising cis men made it up!!! It is true that women struggle to develop themselves in the already existing system of the art world (and regular world) because it is was developed with the place for them to do so. This is obviously not just the case for women, racial minorities and those with disabilities also must fight extra hard to find their space within a world that has not worked to help give them one. This is why feminist art is important, as you were saying. There need to be spaces that are reserved for those who were not given space otherwise. And I think the only people who should be developing those spaces are those who need them. Guerrilla Girls is a really rad group that is doing exactly this.


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