Feminist Renewal Art Network (FRAN) — October 25, 2015Feminist Renewal Art Network (FRAN) brings together a group of Adelaide-based women who are active in the visual arts and have been meeting on a regular basis since 2014.
The impetus for forming the group was initially the enthusiastic response to the exhibition Beyonce is a Feminist (2013), curated by Brigid Noone of Fontanelle Gallery, followed by the impact of Contemporary Art and Feminism (CAF) and its projects “Transgressive Teaching” (2014) and “Curating Feminism” (2014).
The aim of FRAN is to provide a context for sharing ideas, generating projects and being a point of contact for South Australian feminism and art initiatives. In particular, we want to highlight the importance of intergenerational conversations, investigate issues and practices relevant to today’s women artists and consider how best to value and reflect Adelaide’s unique role in the history of Australian arts feminism. In line with the current interest in seventies feminist art, FRAN is keen to draw attention to Adelaide initiatives such as The Women’s Show (1977) an Australia-wide, all-women, unselected exhibition associated with second-wave feminism, and Adelaide Women’s Art Movement (WAM)’s “Women’s Performance Month” held in 1979.
NEW WAVE/NO WAVE, Adhocracy at Vitalstatistix in June 2015
With this in mind, FRAN members, Brigid Noone and Jude Adams, set the process in motion with New Wave/No Wave (NW/NW)(2015), a conversation-based performance that incorporated documentation from The Women’s Show, web-based information on contemporary feminism, and drew on the strategies of consciousness-raising in referencing early performances of artists Anne Marsh and Jane Kent (1979). Revisiting or re-performing art works is an archival-based practice that brings works from the past into the present and creates them anew. As a feminist strategy it problematises the notion of originality and authenticity while intervening in the historical erasure of women artists.
NW/NW is intended to be the first in a series of propositions or research-based projects that will culminate in a large-scale exhibition (plus satellite events) scheduled for 2017, commemorating the 40th anniversary of The Women’s Show. As Maura Reilly claims in making the case for gender parity “We can and must build from the historiography of feminist and women’s art shows . . . (which) have functioned as curatorial correctives to the exclusion of women from the master narratives of art history and from the contemporary art scene itself”(ARTnews, June 2015, p46).
Finally, it is apt that NW/NW, the first activity under the auspices of FRAN, took place within the context of VitalStatistix’ Adhocracy program, given that the definition of the term ‘Adhocracy’ fits FRAN like a glove; “Adhocracy is a flexible, adaptable and informal form of organisation that is defined by a lack of formal structure. It operates in an opposite fashion to bureaucracy.” (Wikipedia).