Introduction

Welcome to the Feminist Manifesto and Social Art Practice Archive. The archive has been compiled over a period of three years as part of Caroline Gausden’s practice based curatorial PhD research. The research examines the politics and poetics of the manifesto form within the context of feminist theoretical writing and activism. It is also concerned with the politics and aesthetics of social art practice, a term that is a subject of much current debate within contemporary art discourse. Growing out of the project’s aims to uncover feminist manifestos in unexpected forms and locations, the research intends to test the thesis that certain works of art, as well as familiar written proclamations, may be considered as manifestos thanks to their reception, function and interpretation.

 

It is the intention of the research to bring the two subjects of the archive into dialogue with each other, with the archive representing an attempt to balance live spoken forms with written documentation. Consequently, it consists of an audio section, which includes recorded public talks and private conversations between researchers, artists and curators that intersect with the research position. The public talks AW.001, HW.002, HW.005 represent the core of Gausden’s curatorial practice and form part of a commission with the Scottish Contemporary Art Network to curate a series of events in the Northeast of Scotland which aimed to pair innovative local practice with relevant international work. Beyond this AW.004 and HW.001 are the results of collaborations with the Invisible Knowledge network, at the CCA, and the Curating Europe’s Futures series both based in Glasgow. Several other talks were recorded by Gausden as both a participant and speaker at events including MW.001 recorded as part of a workshop for Dundee Common’s Festival, curated by social artist Jonathan Baxter, and AW.004 where Gausden was invited to speak by Alice Andrews curator at Glasgow Women’s Library. Finally, several of the recordings represent private conversations in and out of the On The Edge network that significantly shaped the research narrative.

 

Along with the audio archive, which is intended as a public research resource, the website contains the research thesis, consisting of three archival boxes that approach the subject from three distinct perspectives: Archive, Hospitality and Manifesto. In each of the three sections there are two parts. The second part of each section, entitled With Archive (AW), With Hospitality (HW) or With Manifesto (MW), contains written elements that connect to the audio content.

 

Finally, the Feminist Manifesto section is open to the future. Currently it contains several readings from pivotal manifestos discussed in the Thesis. The readers’ selected passages from the original manifestos that both troubled and resonated with their current experiences. In this way reading is a kind of dialogue with history looking for loose ends and unresolved stories that resonate now and call for action. It is hoped that this beginning will encourage further responses. That other readers will pick up on manifestos provided in the all three sections of the thesis and offer their own adaptations, activating and troubling these historical texts in relation to the contemporary political moment.