Home Institution

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Publication Date

Fall 2008

Program Name

Netherlands: International Perspectives on Sexuality and Gender


This report is the outcome of a month-long practicum and exploratory study of the history of feminist art at de Appel arts centre, an internationally oriented arts center located in Amsterdam. The result of this study is a documentary film exploring the connections between Feministische Kunst Internationaal (Feminist Art International), a show held at de Appel in the winter of 1978-'79, and If I Can't Dance, I Don't Want To Be Part Of Your Revolution (IICD) Edition III “Masquerade,” a rolling curatorial platform working in collaboration with de Appel in the fall of 2008. Data was obtained by means of qualitative methods including participant observation, direct observation and focused interviews, and through intensive historical research utilizing the vast array of materials in de Appel's archive. De Appel arts centre has been, and continues to be, a center focused on exposing the public to the latest and most contemporary developments in the art world. The choice to host Feministische Kunst Internationaal in 1978 worked to validate feminist art and the contributions of women-artists at a time when the field was overwhelmingly patriarchal, sexist, and inaccessible to women. Thirty years later, “If I Can't Dance...”, in collaboration with de Appel, chose to once again revisit and explore the notions of performativity, agency, empowerment, enactment, and gesture that stem from the legacies of the feminist movement. By refusing to focus on static art forms and by incorporating a vast variety of mediums, publications, and discursive events in their exhibitions, de Appel continues to work to facilitate and encourage much-needed further discussion, thinking, and debate about the topics they explore. It is concluded that the themes and issues feminist artists dealt with in the late 1970s, as well as the surrounding theoretical debates about the nature and role of feminism, are all still extremely relevant today. I conclude that it is vital to re-examine the history of feminism, and especially the history of feminist art because of the vast number of relevant ideas and debates that are still unresolved. Perhaps by looking back and examining our history, we can once again begin a discussion about the relevance of feminism and feminist ideas today. Suggestions for future research include the effectiveness of art as a political tool in the realm of feminism/gender, art as social activism, the degree of public accessibility and knowledge to new developments in the art world, or a study of public reactions to the variety of mediums employed in future editions of “If I Can't Dance...”.


Contemporary Art | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


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