Who ever heard of meeting with women?
~ Ida Applebroog
When you hear the word feminist, what comes to mind? For some, undoubtedly, the word connotes little more than that tired, over-publicized image of women burning their bras in a public square. Yes, some women burned their bras. It was documented.
Also documented was another, more important story for most of the women I knew or admired in the late 1960s through the late 1980s. That narrative involved women who didn't have time to burn bras; some didn't even wear them, and all of them were spending too much time having to prove they had the brains and the talent to report a story, paint a museum-quality picture, get a foot in the door let alone behind a desk from which to run things.
Emma Amos, Patsy Beckert, Joan Braderman, Su Friedrich, Ida Applebroog, Sabra Moore, Amy Sillman, Mary Miss, Miriam Schapiro, Lucy Lippard, Pat Steir, May Stevens, Nina Yankowitz, Sally Webster, Cecilia Vicuna, Janet Froelich, Harmony Hammond, Elizabeth Weatherford (also see Native Networks), Elke Solomon, Michelle Stuart, Susana Torre, Joyce Kozloff, Sue Heinemann, Joan Snyder, Arlene Ladden, Elizabeth Hess, Marty Pottenger, Mary Beth Edelson. Not only were these women active in politics; they were writers, visual artists, graphic designers, art historians, architects, video artists, street-scrapers, filmmakers, performance artists, organizers, theorists, creators, questioners, challengers, educators, curators, philosophers, idealists, dreamers, doers, heretics.
These women dared to be "radicals" because they were willing to step out and speak up, to become "the first to. . . ." Together, they founded The Heresies: A Feminist Journal on Art and Politics, one of the most extraordinary and ground-breaking collaborative efforts to present women as their fullest, most accomplished selves.
Watching the trailer is instructive, both because it tells us from where we've come — how, as one member says, "we've turned feminism into a verb" — and with what we struggle still. That such "a wild patience has taken me this far" (in the words of poet Adrienne Rich) does not mean women here or anywhere in the world have yet to reach the future. The future is still being made. As Michelle Stuart exclaims in the film, "How can anybody retire?"
Be sure to visit Heresies Film Project, where you'll find an online archive of every issue (there were 27) of Heresies that was published between 1977 and 1992. The Heresies Collective papers are housed at Rutgers University Libraries Special Collections and University Archives Department. They are part of collections jointly held with the Margery Somers Foster Center.
Article: "Feminist Art: A Reassessment" by Susan Bee and Mira Schor