Art and Gender

Both within and beyond the realms of art, debates on gender are proliferating and becoming increasingly politicized. Gender’s imprint on art is often characterized by the prevalence of time-based media like performance, the use of the artist’s body, interactivity, and interventions in public spaces, and can be contextualized by concurrent developments in the social sphere. Over time, singular, incipient conceptions of gender have given way to allow for multiple approaches and agents. Feminism, an important origin of discussions around gender, has, since the early 20th century, been pluralized and expanded to encompass many different feminisms. Critical race scholars and activists issued urgent revisions to suffragette movements, and continue to nuance movements toward gender equality. Equally imperative, transnational feminists challenge linguistic and geopolitical hegemony and the efficacy of liberal models of gender. Since the 1990s, queer, transgender, and non-binary communities have further illuminated these debates and destabilized the rigid binary of “Man” and “Woman.” More recently, in relation to gender, technological mediation and animal studies challenge the very meaning and form of the category of “human.” This Theme explores the vicissitudes of gender and its concomitant cultural effects.

Notes on Transshipment

What happens when we cross over to the other side? In relation to the phenomenon of transshipment – the risky and at times illicit practice of transferring cargo from one ship to another – artist and poet Rindon Johnson ruminates on borders and bodies, that remain in flux.

Opening the Path for a Feminine Abstraction: Malika Agueznay and the Casablanca School

Malika Agueznay was among the first woman modernist abstract artists in Morocco. She was a student at the Casablanca École des Beaux-Arts from 1966 to 1970, during the experimental tenure of the faculty known as the Casablanca School. Shaped by the formative experience within the school, she has also distinguished herself by the ways her research emphasizes her female identity. Throughout her career, she has elaborated on seaweed as a central motif in her abstract practice. This motif is both deliberately evocative of femininity and rooted in her own female perspective.

Calling the Earth to Witness

In relation to the Māravijaya, an occurrence in the Buddha’s life, and Letters from Panduranga, a video work by artist Nguyễn Trinh Thi, art historian Ashley Thompson discusses ideas of land, gender, and colonial history. Thompson’s essay is accompanied by a two-week screening of select clips from Nguyễn’s video work.

Safi Faye: Selbé et tant d’autres

Artist and author Nene Aissatou Diallo revisits Safi Faye’s 1982 portrayal of Selbé, a thirty-nine-year-old mother of eight from Fad’jal as she and her compatriots go about their daily routines, carried by song. This feature reflects on the visual portrayal of Selbé, and Faye’s use of the camera in a documentary produced as part of the series As Women See It.

Ojeikere: Fleeting and Captured Moments

In 1970, Johnson Donatus Aihumekeokhai Ojeikere, otherwise known as J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere (Nigerian, 1930–2014), made Fro Fro, the point of departure of this short text. Storyteller and lens-based artist Jumoke Sanwo reads this image, produced during Nigeria’s nationalist drive and considers Ojeikere’s subjects and their unapologetic defiance.