From the Archives: No Regrets

Agnes Denes: Wheatfield—A Confrontation: Battery Park Landfill, Downtown Manhattan—With New York Financial Center, 1982, two acres of wheat planted and harvested. Courtesy Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects, New York.


In 2007, Lucy Lippard contributed an essay looking back at thirty years of feminism in the art world, based on notes for lectures she delivered at the Museum of Modern Art’s 2007 symposium “The Feminist Future” and at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art during the run of “WACK!: Art and the Feminist Revolution” later that year. She talks about the origins of her own feminist consciousness, moving beyond concerns with Minimalism and Conceptual art to participate in the activist groups of second-wave feminism in the early 1970s, even maintaining a slide registry of work by women artists in her own home for several years. Lippard speculates that feminist art has not received its art-historical due because “like Conceptual art, feminist art was not based on style but on content. . . It was art made as part of a larger social movement, based on the struggle for across-the-board equality we have yet to see.” While considering the past, Lippard also looks to the present and future, reviewing the revitalized attention to feminist art in the 2000s and ending with an urgent call to action. We are publishing the article online in recognition of Women’s History Month. –Eds.


From time to time over the last 30 years, feminism has been relegated to the past and replaced by a grave marker or post (as in post-feminism). I’m going to try to provide some kind of perspective on where we’ve been and a bit about where we are––not an easy task, as there’s no cohesive feminist art movement today, and the wildly varied manifestations of the uncohesive feminist art movement are often under the radar, especially if you live, as I do now, in a New Mexico village. And of course we were never all that cohesive. Definitions of feminist art were always passionately contested. It was one of our strengths that there was never a single unified feminism or a single feminist community, despite attempts by the dominant culture to conflate us into a short-lived movement and to blame each branch for the supposed sins of others.

But I believe there was and still is something that might be called a feminist culture, not to be confused with cultural feminism. Feminist culture entails a basic set of values common to socialist, radical, lesbian and various other brands of feminisms. I’m not fool enough to try defining it. But 30-off years ago a group from L.A. Woman’s Building arrived at these functions for a feminist culture: “raising consciousness, inviting dialogue, and transforming culture.” Still sounds good to me. My own version around that time was that feminist culture is “a value system, a revolutionary strategy, a way of life.” When I first became a feminist, 37 years ago, I compared it to jumping off a bridge and wondering halfway down if this was such a good idea. But there aren’t a lot of recovering, post-feminist artworkers from that period, if there are any. Feminism changed lives and they usually stayed that way.

Today the notion of feminist community is splintered––in part because of right-wing ascendancies, in part because of post-multiculturalism, and in part because the women’s movement did succeed in integrating women into the mainstream, where they often forgot how they got there. To paraphrase Anthony Appiah, we are in danger of being understood only for our opposition to patriarchal culture, which amounts to “intellectual indenture.”

From the beginning of second-wave feminism, which began around 1966 and hit the art world belatedly in 1969-70, representation of and by women in words and images has been the core issue of feminist art. Unconscious feminism began for me with the show I curated in New York City in 1966 called “Eccentric Abstraction.” I hadn’t a clue that the women’s Liberation movement was starting up and I was neck deep in Minimalism (which Clement Greenberg once accused of having “rather feminine sensibilities”; it wasn’t a compliment). The work of Louise Bourgeois, Eva Hesse and Alice Adams (as well as that of the other participants in “Eccentric Abstraction” ––Bruce Nauman, Keith Sonier, Frank Lincoln Viner and Don Potts) existed in a curious location between biological and Minimalist abstraction that was later claimed mostly by women. For all their quasi-ugliness there was something immensely attractive about Bourgeois’ small turdlike latex sculptures and Hesse’s obsessive syntheses of strength and fragility through materials. They opened up a volcanic layer of suppressed erotic imagery and “body ego” that somehow I’d been waiting for. It didn’t sink in that this imagery was female until I became a feminist four years later, on the wings of Conceptual art and the politics of the Artworkers Coalition, the latter also the birthplace of New York’s first feminist art group: WAR––Women Artists in Revolution.

At first, in New York, it was all about art. For better or worse, feminist art there was often preoccupied with fending off or competing with the male-dominated mainstream. We spent a lot of that decade remodeling our lives and our textual and formal languages to make room for women’s experiences. The Slide Registry of Women’s Art––which we used to prove that women were doing everything that men were––was kept in my house for a couple of years. The Ad Hoc Women Artists Committee (founded by Brenda Miller, Poppy Johnson and Faith Ringgold) used it to force the Establishment to look at art by women, beginning with the 1970 Whitney Annual.  Our tactics at the Whitney were multiple: we issued a fake press release saying the Annual would finally be 50 percent women and 50 percent “non-white.” We projected slides of women’s art on the outside of the building. We faked invitations so a lot of us could get inside to do a sit-in at the opening. The museum got wind of that and set up a machine to distinguish the fakes from the authentic invitations, so we traded our fakes to famous people the museum didn’t want to evict. We protested weekly on the Whitney’s defensive bridge over the moat; we faked a docent’s tour; we blew whistles in the stairwells, lipsticked the women’s room mirrors, left eggs and unused tampons marked “50 percent women” around the galleries…and we got a lot of attention, even from the FBI. Joining us was WSABAL (Women, Students and Artists for Black Art Liberation), consisting mainly of Faith Ringgold and her daughters Barbara and Michele Wallace, who made a big splash for one female family. WEB, or West East Bag, a national network and newsletter of women’s groups with slide registries, was founded in April 1971 when a few of us visited the show “26 Women Artists” I’d curated at the Aldrich Museum. Pretty soon came Women in Art, and The Women’s Interarts Center. A.I.R. Gallery inspired SoHo 20, WARM in Minneapolis, Artemisia in Chicago, and a bunch of other so-called separatist groups. The Women’s Caucus for Art within the CAA networked with those in academia, and it’s still going strong.

At the same time, theories about women’s art being different from men’s art were blowing in from the West Coast, from Judy Chicago’s feminist art program at Fresno, and then from Chicago’s and Miriam Schapiro’s program at Cal Arts––famous for Womanhouse. Then came the dazzling Woman’s Building, built with pink tools and bathed in pink spotlights on special occasions. Many of us New York women mightily resisted these ideas at first. But after looking at the slides pouring into the registry, it didn’t take long for me to concede that certain forms, images and patterns recurred so often they couldn’t be denied. Whether their source was nature or nurture was subject to debate, a debate that got more interesting when lesbian art was thrown into the mix, a debate that still hasn’t entirely subsided.

Eventually it became clear that mere resistance was confining, that we could survive outside the art world and create our own formal and intellectual spaces. “Feminism’s greatest contribution to the future of art has probably been precisely its lack of contribution to modernism,” I pontificated in 1980. Modernism was about truths, and feminism produced a rupture––a real paradigm shift (to use an overworked phrase) in the 1970s. Truth with a capital T hasn’t been the same since. But precisely because feminism escaped or ignored the modernist canon, it has had a huge impact on contemporary art of the last 30 years, and has simultaneously been neglected by historians.

In the early to mid-‘70s all the now well-worn feminist issues–formal and ideological–were new to us. The art–incredibly honest and often raw–seemed fresh and outrageous. Even the simplest things about women’s experience hadn’t been said aloud before, displayed in public before. “Feminine” materials and the color pink, orgasm, menstruation, childbirth, menopause, domestic labor, all took on a new and rebellious significance, as did central imagery and explicitly sexual imagery from a female viewpoint. With this reclamation of our visceral identities, there was––and still is––a lot of emphasis on the gendered body: Carolee Schneemann pulling a scroll out of her vagina; Lynda Benglis flaunting a double dildo; Suzanne Lacy playing with animal guts; Judy Chicago’s Red Flag––a tampon extraction; an Australian poster by Mary Gallagher and Angelica Gee of a woman hurling a bloody tampon at the viewer like a Molotov cocktail.

These don’t have a lot in common with Joana Vasconcelo’s chandelier of tampons at the 2005 Venice Biennale, which was beautiful, but doesn’t pack the same wallop these days. A lot of the early claims made for essentialism have fallen to the sharp knives of critical theory, but the obsessively repetitive aspect of women’s art and the focus on sexuality were voluntarily constructed from social experience and have remained in the feminist canon.

As Elizabeth Hess has pointed out, when conservative art writers argue that nothing happened during the pluralist ‘70s, they mean nothing happened except feminist art. One reason it hasn’t received its art-historical due is that, like Conceptual art, feminist art was not based on style but on content. It was hard to pin down, a moving target. It was never an art movement per se, with all the implied similarities in style and esthetic breakthroughs, critical triumphs and post-coital exhaustion. It was art made as part of a larger social movement, based on the struggle for across-the-board equality we have yet to see.

At the same time, for all the feel-good and sometimes self-congratulatory rhetoric of the ‘70s, the integration of women of color into largely white organizations did not go well on either coast. (“Add a woman of color and stir,” acidly commented one California critic of tokenism.) The mere idea of integration instead of co-founding and equal beginnings indicates how this became the great failure of second-wave feminism. Good intentions were rampant, but so was ignorance, and sometimes arrogance. We’re all struggling for the right to be perceived as subjects of history, acting in it, rather than as objects acted upon. Today the distinction between international (which means mostly European-derived) and global (which means everyone who is still usually left out despite a body of often brilliant post-colonial criticism) is another barrier that has to be breached. What Edward Said called “the violence of the act of representation” was no less important then than now. We are too slowly learning to see the flesh and blood beneath the makeup and the make-believe.

At one point in the ‘80s, a woman told me I wasn’t considered a feminist anymore because I was “too interested in the Third World.” I was surprised to hear that women were unrepresented in most of the world. But I was also seriously alarmed at such a narrow definition of feminism. It highlighted a problem for feminist art activism, which was the lack of solid ongoing exchange and support for lower-income women and women of color (as though they were offshoots of the generic white middle-class women’s movement)––what has now been conflated into a vague and boundless “diversity.” As Audre Lorde wrote: “It is not those differences between us that are separating us. It is rather our refusal to recognize those differences, and to examine the distortions which result from out misnaming them and their effects upon human behavior and expectation.” But I don’t think feminist artists have given up yet on the polyphonic voice.

I wrote in the ‘70s and still earnestly believe that “women are in a privileged position to satisfy the goal of an art that could communicate the needs of all classes and genders to each other and get rid of the we/they dichotomy to as great an extent as is possible in a capitalist framework.” Only when politics are truly internalized can they be effectively conveyed through form. Those of us who identified with socialist feminism in the ‘70s and ‘80s were struggling with the contradictions between Marxism and feminism, horizontal and vertical class structures. As Barbara Ehrenreich observed, “For all the ardent egalitarianism of the early movement, feminism did, in fact, have the unforeseen consequence of heightening the class differences between women, ideologically and professionally.” And as Navajo/Creek/Seminole photographer Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie has said, bitterly, “While my mother and aunt were cleaning the houses of white women, those women were developing their theories of feminism.”

Nevertheless, for all the internal and external assumptions that the women’s movement was white and middle class, the fact remains that in a 1986 poll, only 26 percent of lower income women refused to identify as feminists, compared to 41 percent of upper income women. A 2005 poll showed 69 percent of women believe the women’s movement has improved their lives, but only 24 percent of them will call themselves feminists. And feminist art’s focus on sexuality over the last three decades may have to be reconsidered. A 1990 poll by Virginia Slims showed that poor women were not galvanized by reproductive rights and other so-called sexual issues but by poverty and lack of support from their male partners in child care and domestic work. Domestic violence is a trans-class issue that surely comes in there somewhere. I wonder how much of that has changed, or if it has. This year, Democrats are reintroducing the Equal Rights Amendment. The issues are there; the allies are there; the coalitions remain too few.

I know many of my epiphanies around race and class came while working with the Heresies Collective, founded in 1976 by about 20 women––artists, writers, a filmmaker, an anthropologist––all white, at that point. We published a journal of feminism, art and politics that lasted 12 years, and established a shorter-lived school–the New York Feminist Art Institute. Heresies was the first time I had written about feminism and Left politics within a comfortable context. Each essay was constructed from dialogue with my peers, which included incendiary brainstorming, fierce disagreements, passionate rants, and the inevitable crit/self-crit (criticism/self-criticism for those of you who have never gone around the circle dissecting virtually everything that was said and done). The magazine’s various issues––on lesbian feminism, racism, the Goddess, sex, propaganda, ecology, media and class, women’s traditional arts and so forth––were each edited by a separate collective and overseen by the “mother collective,” a process by which Heresies created an ever-expanding community that survives 30 years later. It’s this kind of experience that keeps a feminist in the fold.

Certainly the foundation was laid in the ‘70s for the more refined theoretical work of the ‘80s, when “representation” became the dominant focus. Photography, performance, and, later, new media, offered appropriate vehicles for women artists trying to compete with the mass media’s misrepresentations. When French psychoanalytic theory invaded the academies and photo-text work became de rigueur for feminists confronting a male-led and often misogynist expressionism, these tendencies diluted some feminist issues while integrating feminism into the new canon––the discourse of “visual culture”––distancing it from fine art.

Also in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, a range of young artists’ collectives revamped public art, often with a feminist twist, as a new generation of major women artists––among them Jenny Holzer and Kiki Smith––arrived on the scene within new young mixed-gender collectives and a retro punk art scene. (Some of us older lefties had trouble with the retro part but it was a great shot in the arm not only for feminism but for activist art groups.) In 1985 the Guerilla Girls burst onto the scene with the posters they called “cultural terrorism.” They were followed up by PESTS which did the same for artists of color.

All this was in the mid-‘80s, when, not at all coincidentally, the art market was in lousy shape, and art about gender––feminist and queer art––was briefly touted as the hottest item around. Thanks to the culture wars of the late ‘80s, many of the original feminist issues were reframed (though Karen Finley and Holly Hughes never attracted the support that came to Serrano and Mapplethorpe). The queer renaissance, with ActUp, Lesbian Avengers, Dyke Action Machine, and Gran Fury, brought a renewed energy to feminism, sadly embraced in part due to the AIDS crisis and reactionary politics.

In the ‘90s, young feminist artists, trying to toss off the blanket of deconstructivist jargon and to revivify the imagery of feminist art, looked back to earlier work by Hesse, Bourgeois, Nancy Spero, Harmony Hammond and many others. Paralleling ActUp’s media savvy and art-aware successes, WAC––Women’s Action Coalition (often misidentified as Women’s Art Coalition)–was created in infuriated response to the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill debacle and the William Kennedy Smith and Mike Tyson rape trials. WAC was not an artists’ group, though it came out swinging at its political targets with terrific graphics, but artists were among its founders and leaders. It was a national women’s SWAT team, activated by daily injustices, swooping in like Wonder Woman to claim public space with the galvanizing beat of its drum corps. During WAC’s too short but dynamic life, chapters sprang up around the country, giving women artists a place to rekindle their anger, to inform their artmaking with communal experience again, to back up their art with action again.

All along there has been a certain tension between practice and theory, activism and academism. While the limitations of untheorized strategy were acknowledged, the often exciting theory being created on the ground has been mostly disregarded in the ivory towers, which led to a mutual distancing. Actions left untheorized tended to disappear from history, if only for lack of serious consideration. On the other hand, the ‘80s proved that there are also limitations to overtheorized strategies. Theory does not invalidate activism nor vice versa. Activist art, creating its own political context, can also generate ideas just as ideas can generate activism.

Not being a theorist, I never saw any reason why all these vital and shape-shifting ideas couldn’t co-exist. I wrote optimistically about “Both Sides Now” (the title of a show I did at Artemisia in Chicago in 1980). Clearly its dangerous and it’s dumb to confine people to imagined essences, to totalizing histories from which there is no escape. But it’s equally dumb to throw the baby out with the bath water, to reject all subjectivity, roots and origins as mere swamps of stereotype, limitation and prejudice. The stories that define us can be liberating as well as constricting. This remains a fertile area not just of opposition but of serious possibilities. A simple either/or won’t work and it’s not the point. For instance, recent biological research is coming up with some facts about the gendered brain that we are going to have to weave into our assumptions. It will only get more interesting.

Thinking back, I’ve regained my admiration for that ultimate in eye-opening truisms: “the personal is political.” This modest phrase––now admittedly a cliché––was the baseline for cultural, radical and socialist feminisms, with emphases differently placed in each branch. In the hands of feminists and other activists, it remains a living and dynamic proposition, a brilliant way to translate lived experience––positive and negative––into political action. The “political is personal” is not the opposite of this credo, but its other half. Martha Rosler for instance talks about inserting public narratives into private life and vice versa. The lesbian collective that publishes the journal LTTR––a worthy heiress to Heresies––suggests that we “build private insurrections that loosen public ground.” When we understand who we are in a historical sense we are far better able to understand what other cultural groups are experiencing within a time and place we all share.


Feminist art brought with it the resurrection of content, of narrative forms, traditional arts, autobiography, performance, documentary photography, affinities with the politics and creativity of global cultures––all ways of bringing the details of daily life into the art context where they can be understood within a broader frame. I’ve always been obsessed with the collage esthetic that defines so much feminist art––a layered, cumulative mode. From Hannah Höch to the Guerrilla Girls to Barbara Kruger to Deborah Bright, collage or montage has always been a particularly effective medium for a political art. Humorous and hard-hitting, it can bring separate realities together in endlessly different ways. Collage or montage, though it was first exploited by modernism, is also the core strategy of postmodernism. It represents a dialogic approach. Collage is about shifting relationships, juxtaposition and superimposition, gluing and ungluing. It’s an esthetic that willfully takes apart what is or is supposed to be and rearranges it in ways that suggest what could be. Collage makes something of contradictions. It contains the possibility of visual puns, accessible contrasts and irony. It’s also the medium of surprise, which can shake us out of our stupors.

Collaboration is the social extension of the collage esthetic, and it characterizes a lot of women’s art. Collaboration has long been a weapon against the powerful sense of alienation that characterizes late capitalism, which divides and separates through specialization at the same time that it homogenizes. Putting things together without divesting them of their won identities is a metaphor for cultural democracy, the diametric opposite of a global corporate culture; this has been the impetus for the proliferation of new young international collectives.

Feminists engage with the world. Not to do so is among the most unethical decisions an artist can make. One positive development in the contemporary diffusion of feminist values is the fact that even the iconic artists of the 1970s have brought their feminism to a wide variety of issues. Suzanne Lacy’s powerful large-scale performances, which claim not only public space but public consideration, have most recently been devoted to youth, in Oakland, as well as in Medellín, Colombia. Mierle Laderman Ukeles has constantly expanded her originally domestic Maintenance Art into the urban infrastructure. Harmony Hammond now makes eloquent minimal abstractions in which the act of painting expresses the queer experience. Joyce Kozloff makes perversely decorative maps of wars, energy inequity and other urgent issues. I could go on and on. The point is that feminist artists are concerned with the global class struggle, with racism, with peace, with environmental justice and so on. The many women active in the current antiwar movement––Women in Black, Artists Against the War, Not in Our Name and so forth––were acting as feminists when they insisted after 9/11, “Our grief is not a cry for war.”

One significant stronghold of once-removed feminist art is public/community-based art and the eco-art movement, where women’s “mythic” identification with nature has found new outlets. Environmental issues used to be considered soft politics. Now they are central, as we confront the abyss. Public interventions, community art, and eco-art are all about claiming space for alternative value systems. A lot of the most interesting eco-art is in a sense about gendered space; it often takes the form of projects that may take years or even decades to complete, expanding our current notions of art in time. Feminist art has always applied the principles of generosity and reciprocity to the social structures from which it emerges. I think that’s why much of the best public art is made by women with a feminist consciousness. (the distinction between working for the public and working for the market is an important one.) If some women are gifted synthesists and mediators (and I don’t see that as an insult), what better place to work than on that “fluid membrane between public and private spheres,” to quote Sheila de Bretteville, co-founder of the L.A. Woman’s Building, now head of Yale’s graphic design department. With Susana Torre, Dolores Hayden and others she pioneered notions of gendered space and public art. If it weren’t for these feminist models, I probably wouldn’t have spent the last 15 years working on community planning, writing neo-cultural geography, or curating a show on global warming in which there are 27 women, 10 men and seven mixed collaborations [it will appear at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, Sept. 14-Dec. 21].

Ever since the beginning of the feminist art movement there’ve been monotonously repeated complaints from male and female nonfeminists––about how art has no gender and about “separatist” exhibitions. Given the increasing complexities of gender and identity politics in the last few decades, these two points may seem pretty simplistic. But they keep turning up in different guises. The effectiveness of various kinds of separatisms shifts with the times. (Just remember the omnipresence of all-white-male shows we older folks grew up with.) And maybe art has no gender, but artists do. I suspect there are not many thinking women, or men, who would deny, even today, that women’s lived experience––political, sexual, biological––is different from men’s lived experience.

The wishful or even utopian exaggerations of a mythic female power, widespread in early feminism, have fallen to a more skeptical age, which is fine with me. But I can’t help harboring a sneaking nostalgia for the days when it all made sense, when we were enveloped in an exhilarating cloud of ideas and images, when we were sure we could change the world for women within a decade, when we had our own spaces and our own communities, our own culture…when we used the word “revolution” and believed it was possible. It was a hell of a lot of fun.


I know cyber feminists are out there even if I can’t hear them because I live off the grid and stubbornly don’t use the Internet. For a while we had rooms of our own. Now we have chat rooms shared with virtually everybody. Maybe the Web (I think of the 1971 WEB) is the new way to negotiate feminist visual production/practice in a time that is not very hospitable to idealism. Significantly, many of the collaborations and collectives that have come back into style involve people working in different countries and communicating via the Internet. It’s always a good sign when the exalted egos cultivated by the art world’s rugged individualist system are willing and able to work together. And of course, as Mira Schor has pointed out, there have now been at least two generations of artists who can claim an “artistic matrilineage.” This has definitely contributed to a certain hunger for feminist action. Today’s young feminist artists are unashamedly working off ‘70s feminism just as artists did in the ’90s.

Certainly we should hang onto the f-word and continue to give it new meanings. As one young woman pointed out at MOMA, if we invented another term, it would soon be demonized too. I’ve been chatting about feminism with younger women, across three semi-generations, and one quite common take is the rejection of any generalization about women or men. “Feminism is part of who I am, “said one undergraduate, “but to make a big deal of it would just be bad for the cause. It shouldn’t be an issue anymore. Let’s go forward instead of looking back. I may not call myself a feminist, but you can bet I’ll stand up for myself.” The question is, will she stand up for other women? What’s missing today, it seems to me, is the glue that once kept the collage esthetic and feminist community on course. Helen Molesworth said memorably at the MoMA symposium in January that the notion of sisterhood is “so outdated it almost seems cool.” Ouch.

The last six years have been worse than we could have imagined. The breadth of malicious mistakes made by the Bush Administration have hit us with so many issues all at once that sometimes we feel powerless. A more cynical worldview characterizes the early 21st century and its arts, created in the midst of religious fundamentalism, nationalism and war. Our bodies are still battlegrounds, as the recent Supreme Court partial-birth abortion decision makes all too clear. Our anger is as fragmented as our communications, because there is too much to be angry about. A question that came up at MoMA was “is anger essentialist?” I’d say no, anger is essential.

Nevertheless, we are notoriously resilient. Our daughters, daughters-in-law and granddaughters will be, too. There’s no question that feminism, with some help from feminist art, has filtered out into the dominant culture and changed the way the world sees and treats women. Despite cultural amnesia and the fear of erasure common to all progressive movements in less than progressive times, the exuberant optimism of vintage feminist art is attracting attention again. Some women’s work has even trickled gradually into Janson’s History of Art. Women have represented the U.S. (as well as France, Germany, and many other countries) at the Venice Biennale. The Dinner Party has finally found a permanent home at the Brooklyn Museum.  The Feminist Art Project out of Rutgers is gathering force again. The long awaited “WACK!” is attracting crowds at L.A. MOCA. Linda Nochlin and Maura Reilly’s “Global Feminisms” is at the Brooklyn Museum’s Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, and coming down the pike in November is Mary Garrard and Norma Broude’s “Claiming Space,” at American University in Washington D.C. And an e-book titled From Site to Vision: the woman’s Building in Contemporary Culture, by Sondra Hale and terry Wolverton, has just appeared. All of these demonstrate the length and breadth, the staying power, commitment and rejuvenation of contemporary feminist art. Can another feminist art revolution be far behind? Anne Wagner suggested at the MoMA symposium that “political imagination is feminism’s best shot, the key to the future.” Griselda Pollock added, “Imagination is how politics operates at the level of esthetics.” And this goes for transgendering the issues, as David Joselit put it, educating and incorporating men as well.

So, where are we now? On the cusp of a third Wave? (It has been almost 40 years.) In 2002 Spanish curator Rosa Martinez offered a manifesto for a “New Feminism” that would gather “a series of radical but flexible strategies to reinvent the emotional, sexual, economical and geopolitical distribution of the benefits” of capitalist development, rejecting the nineties backlash that claims that equality between men and women has already been achieved.” And many young women are thinking outside the whitewalled room. Taiwanese Hsin-I Eva Lin went on a 45-day strike (no art making, empty studio and leafleting) during a 2004 residency in New York “to call attention to the insecurity of labor in the global economy.”

Artist Carrie Moyer wrote recently (I’m paraphrasing) that the real question is whether feminism is recognized as a meaningful historical precedent, acknowledged and cited by artists, critics and historians. Is this Feminist Spring just another blip against the backlash? Time will tell. bell hooks has written about “feminist movement.” By omitting “the,” she endows our political noun with the forward momentum of a verb. So much for the past, let’s get on with the future of feminism. What are we going to make of this window of opportunity? One thing at least is for sure, we’ll be post-feminist when our goals have been met, and not before.