2nd Meeting of Switch Metaphors

Affinity Group on feminist art, queer and trans / gender activism
Rome, Monday 28th May 2007
hosted by 1:1projects, piazza Scipione Ammirato 1/c
h. 15.00 – 19.30

“It is, of course, hard to climb when you are holding on
to both ends of a pole, simultaneously or alternately.
It is, therefore, time to switch metaphors.” (Donna Haraway)

Positioning: Feminist art can be institutional critique, but can it also be a tool for feminist activism? Can art accomplish emancipation of queers or awareness of gender performativity in society? What do a feminist practice of arts do besides activist deeds that are unrecognizable as art (and not to forget unpaid) and gallery and museum pieces that reach small, and enclosed audiences?
Artistic strategies produce knowledge. It’s important “we” read other feminists’ strategies, as well as “they” read, discuss and fight ours. Switch Metaphors attempts to question the Feminist position of the artist speaking from “outside” within the art world. If experience is the material source for a desire to change art and cultural politics, how can the artist get beyond or work around the inclusion/exclusion of it as art?

Proposal: On the 31st March Switch Metaphors already presented one of their works in Vienna, within the exhibition and real life meeting “Cyberfeminism past forward”. On the 28th May in Rome Switch Metaphors planned the second AG meeting in collaboration with 1:1projects.
We want to promote a discussion in the way we ourselves share artistic strategies and discuss these topics by emailing, websites, blogs, IM and Skype. Anybody interested in our proposal can join the discussion at the European Feminist Forum website in whatever form they prefer, which makes it a “virtual project room” where Switch Metaphors will host projects, questionnaires, videos, podcasts, etc. If you wish to become participatory in the AG (and interested in discussing the topics we address), please take part to the meeting in Rome! From this we can start telling each other stories about our artistic strategies and explain each other how we each take accountability for our fiction (painting, performances, writing, curating, community art, etc.) from commissioned to self-funded, from invisible to commercial.
Our virtual and real life encounters will determine the form of our discussion at the European Feminist Forum in 2008.

Discussion: The Rome meeting will focus on issues related to
subversion / political activism / queer activism / infiltration in other fields of work
omission of addressing economics in art-theoretical discourses and instrumentalisation of art (from commissioned to self-funded, from invisible to commercial)
Production of Knowledge:
share strategies (read, discuss & fight others' strategies) and create ground (read: equality) to make that possible and desire as strategy or methodology (=fiction): play the role of the artist, curator, critic and spectator.

Don’t hesitate to bring a documentation of your strategies (power point, video, recordings, magazines, posters, catalogues…) for a presentation during the meeting.

Preparing the content for the European Feminist Forum in 2008, the organizers have chosen the model of Affinity Groups. It is a non-hierarchical, open, participatory and innovative process to explore topics European Feminist Forum participants see as key to their political vision as feminists. Different Affinity Groups will prepare the dialogues in their own way. Switch Metaphors is the name of the Affinity Group working for the European Feminist Forum 2008 on the issue of art and feminism, queer and trans / gender activism. The Affinity Group can take different shapes and produce different outcomes (a paper, a video documentary, podcasts, European chats, artworks, research outcomes etc): the EFF invites all the participants to take part in our face-to-face meetings and to work in whatever medium they chose, in cyberspace, across all European countries, within one country, in whichever language and media. Affinity Groups started in January 2007 and will work towards the European Feminist Forum in June 2008 in Poland. Each Affinity Group publishes its debate on the EFF website:

Switch Metaphors is an Affinity Group led by Carla Cruz (PT), Nina Höchtl (AUT), Suzanne van Rossenberg (NL) and Francesco Ventrella (I).

Carla Cruz’ (born in 1977 in Portugal) works of art seek the borders between art and activism, which means that a big part of her works isn’t visible to the art public or defined as art. She is also the curator of ‘All My Independent Women’, a travelling exhibition with works of feminist artists (f/m). Carla is part of several artistic collectives amongst them “Ateliers Mentol” and “ZoiNA”. She likes to think of alternative economies in the arts, always stressing the bias of the art system.
Carla says: “I feel very comfortable in the limbo between art and activism, art and vandalism... I’ve been growing into more intimate connections, dinner parties and small events that might bring the art community together.”

Nina Höchtl’s (born 1978 in Austria) work includes interventions, videos, texts, radio, installations and a book called ‘Somewhere between Desire & Waiting’, published in 2004. Höchtl explores identity, communication, perception and experience of the other. Interviewing is often part of her working processes. Her work is the process of translation of meaning, both in the form of identification and subjection.
About the video "To my dear friend, Naïma, who is already 10…" made from drawings by and conversations with Naïma Nina says: “Getting the chance to see Naïma's drawings and talking to her has revealed to me a child's playful, fabulous view on sexuality. She keeps me up questioning inherent and acquired gender roles.”

Suzanne van Rossenberg (born in 1977 in The Netherlands) received her BA in Fine Art at Royal Academy of Art in The Hague and her MA Fine Art at the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam in 2004. Her work consists of performances, lectures, paintings, websites and writing. She writes fictional stories to document her artistic choices and to give the audience the context in which to read her work. Her art is institutional critique. Her main interest is the question how queer artistic strategies can be implemented in different working fields. Together with Nina Höchtl initiator of the ‘trans / gender platform’ for the publication of artistic and scientific researches on ‘trans / gender’ and queer topics.
Suzanne says: “I catch myself in an archaeological approach of contemporary art. What motivates somebody to do something that can be categorized as “art”? Aesthetics? Politics? Money?”

Francesco Ventrella (born 1979 in Italy) is an art historian and independent curator based in Rome. He received his BA in History of Contemporary Art, and his MA in the Theory and Art Criticism at “La Sapienza” University in Rome. His main focus is on Institutional Critique, Gender Studies and Feminist Art’s Historiography, Queer Theory, Semiotics, Narratology, Walter Benjamin and Marxist Criticism.
He is part of “1:1projects”, a curatorial platform based in Rome and London. He collaborated with several magazines including: “parallax”, “Vector magazine”, “KM/n”, “Drome”, “One to One”. He’s currently writing on “NERO magazine”. He met Carla Cruz at “GARBa” (2004-2005), a residency programme for young artists in Basilicata.
Francesco says: “If there is a (patriarchal) dominant fiction, which contains all the representations we produce, then I believe we always need to give space to switching modes of producing knowledge and displaying languages, so that new stories can disseminate and new accounts of our subjectivity can come into existence’.”

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