An international publication marathon for women and feminisms, through the arts, on the Wikipedia platform.
ART+FEMINISM EDITATON, 5 and 6 MARCH 2016
During this two-day marathon, around 36 articles were created, a dozen articles were improved and over 30 Wikipedia accounts were opened. See the results of the Editathon on the Wikipedia platform.
AN EQUALLY DISTRIBUTED SENSITIVITY
In the 1970s, American artist Lee Lozano created a series of Language Pieces, instructions that committed her to gradually withdrawing from spheres of society, from the world of art, to the point of forbidding herself to speak to women. This radical gesture, which began with the emblematic and elusive Dropout Piece, stemmed from her position as an essential figure of contemporary art. Even though art historian Lucy R. Lippard asserted in 1973 that Lozano was the leading figure of New York conceptual art in the 1960s (1), her work is still much less well-known than that of male colleagues like
Vito Acconci, Lawrence Weiner and Robert Barry. Why are we less familiar with Lee Lozano’s work than with that of Robert Barry or Lawrence Weiner? Why are there so few exhibitions and books describing and analysing this major work that enriches the history of conceptual art with decisive social and economic perspectives on the links between language, arts and life? And finally, why is she missing from the list of conceptual artists on Wikipedia? Art historian Linda Nochlin (2) provided insight into this question in 1971.
The writing of history is not equally distributed (3). It is the product of points of view conceived in a world fraught with disparities in terms of geography, society, ethics, time, gender and types. Over the past fifteen years, the internet has been developing numerous tools to network this diversity and bring it to life. But building a polyphonic history is a tricky day-to-day undertaking: multiplying and enriching certain points of view can unintentionally lead to the exclusion of others.
This is the whole issue and the difficulty of the Art+Feminism Editathon event. The point is to highlight the work of those who have been forgotten by the history of art, and the work of those who are trying to share what they know about them. The point is not to exclude, diminish or criticise the work that has already been done. On the contrary, these two days of writing and meetings are designed to enable different points to view to be compared and contrasted, informing and affecting them so that our present and future becomes a sound box for the polyphony at work in the world. These days also aim to have an impact beyond their short timespan, in hope that training people to use writing tools will help broaden the spectrum of people who can then independently share their own points of view and take part in writing history.
The Art+Feminism Editathon is therefore not solely aimed at women, nor at a limited community of people who identify as feminists. It is the opposite of self-segregation: it would be quite fruitless if it discriminated against the male half of the planet. Nevertheless, this is often the pitfall of an activist gesture: those whom it does not spotlight often view the strength of its commitment as a kind of exclusivity, and this can lead to division instead of union.
This is why the Wikipedia platform, with its encyclopaedic, universal function, would appear to be a tool conducive to implementing an activist gesture focused not on identities, which crystallise inequalities, but on knowledge, made up of objects produced by these same identities.
Decentralising history, opening knowledge
According to historian Romain Bertrand, constructing an equally distributed history requires the decentralisation of knowledge production and sharing. This can first begin through a representation of its diversity. During the Art+Feminism Editathon, we will provide different means of sharing knowledge on artists Lee Lozano, Liz Magor, Nil Yalter, on Afro-Feminism, on the magazine Girls Like Us, etc. (books, discussions, writing on Wikipedia), which is lacking on the global knowledge landscape. If these representations are lacking because of identity disparities, there is no reason why these disparities must be reflected in the history of art.
Of course, it is hard not be be moved by the life of Nil Yalter (1938) - an artist exiled from Turkey who became involved in the women’s liberation movement - and not to want to share this inspiring, passionate story that inspires people and reflects the battle of so many women of that time.
Yet that is what often happens on Wikipedia. This collaborative encyclopaedia, containing 29 million articles, is primarily the work of people who wish to transmit, clearly and simply to as many people as possible (4), their passion for something they have discovered.
When the figure who is the subject of the article has been allocated an identity that is discriminated against, the biographical section will intuitively be explained in detail on the platform, and, perhaps due to a lack of time (writing on Wikipedia being a voluntary act), the contents of the subject’s work risks being eclipsed. Yet the work is what motivates the entry into the encyclopaedia.
As everyone knows, recounting a person’s life can be a simpler, more direct exercise than analysing the contents of a body of work. This analysis also takes professional expertise that requires time and money. However, the two components are closely linked: life and work affect, shape and strain each other. Therefore, if one is to write about, and share, the work of people who have been subject to discrimination, is it necessary to exclude their personal lives? Must one strictly separate subject and object, life and work? The history of feminism teaches us otherwise: the personal is part of the political.
In the late 1960s, the methodologies of feminist consciousness-raising groups consisted precisely in basing collective action on everyone’s personal story, in forums where people could speak freely. Therefore, the point may have been to create the right conditions so as not to immobilise certain aspects of our lives, to produce the right spaces and temporalities that allow each identity to have its own intense dynamic (5), while preserving their co-existence. One had to learn to rhythmically and delicately interlace subject and object, identity and content, life and works in order to establish an equally distributed knowledge perspective.
As a neighbour of Lafayette Anticipation and a conservation temple preserving documents that sealed the history of France and its citizens, the Archives nationales seemed like the most appropriate place to run the Editathon. This institution roots the project in a modern version of the archiving process - which is carried out today on digital platforms like Wikipedia - and it is also in tune with the event’s civic-minded spirit. With a felicitous symbolism, it is in the Prince’s Ceremonial Hall that we will be writing about women and minorities.
We turned to artists for this as well, first approaching Aaron Flint Jamison, inviting him to produce the Editathon’s work and discussion environment at the Archives nationales. If knowledge decentralisation proceeds by means of the representation of diversity, artists have a fundamental role to play, by implementing a sensitive apparatus.. Together, we spent a lot of time considering the simplest, most generous way to invite everyone to participate in this Editathon. How could we create a collective environment without eclipsing the various singularities? How could we encourage participants to be aware of identity disparities and act on them without imposing restrictions? What are the project’s sensitive nerves, and how could they be intensified? How could an artistic methodology be used without objectifying the project’s activist content?
It was by setting up a space whose movements are co-constituted that these questions were worked on: in the writing room at the Archives nationales, the tables made for writing on Wikipedia form a mobile network. With wheeled legs, they circulate according to the content and the people producing it, through forms of assembly traced by the design of the tables. Thus each element (the subject of the article, its writers, the furniture) participates in the life of these two days, like a musical score played without a conductor, like a net whose shape adapts to what it holds. Though the action is decentralised, this does not mean it is incoherent or devoid of content. It develops based on the people who are constituting it, who must listen to one another in order to collectively advance towards the goal defined by the Editathon. But this tuning process will not have a tone of perfect harmony. On the contrary, the tables might corner each other as they move in heterogeneous directions. Participants will have to stop, observe and manoeuvre in order to find the right angle to anchor two tables, and this might destabilise other areas of contact and writing.
Another sensitive nerve was developed in the artwork presented: in the temporary nursery, the artist has created a work that acts as a children’s game. Although produced by the artist, the Editathon tables will not circulate on the market; however, that which watches over and entertains the children minded by a team of professionals is defined as a work of art. With benevolence and finesse, this addresses one of the points of tension in feminist battles.
This delicate balancing act, made palpable in the art, will connect the two days of writing and discussion. Although the Art+Feminism Editathon will not erase the disparities that strain our spaces, we hope that in its material and methodology it will help foster an understanding of the limitations on writing and sharing an equally distributed history, and forge a path, with the participants, to its possible futures.
By Flora Katz
Curator and PhD student in philosophy and the sciences of art (Paris 1 - Sorbonne)
1) Lucy Lippard, “Escape attempts”, in Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972, Praeger, New York, 1973, and University California Press, Berkeley, Los Angeles, London, 1997, p. xiii
(2) Linda Nochlin, “Pourquoi n’y-a-t-il pas eu de grandes femmes artistes ?”, 1971. See p. 16 of the booklet.
(3) Romain Bertrand, L’histoire à parts égales, éditions du Seuil, Paris, 2011.
(4) Wikipedia receives 480 million visits each month.
(5) Reading La vie intense, une promesse moderne, by Tristan Garcia, was a nice inspiration for this project. To be published in spring 2016
A global campaign
On Wikipedia, less than 15% of contributors identify themselves as women. This disparity reflects the inequalities that pervade not only the largest knowledge platform, but also the internet as a whole, and real life in general.
Art+Feminism is an international campaign to improve the presence of women and the arts on Wikipedia. The project was initiated in February 2014 at the Eyebeam Art and Technology Center in New York by Siân Evans (Art Libraries Society of North America), Jacqueline Mabey (curator, failed projects), Michael Mandiberg (artist), Laurel Ptak (artist and curator), Dorothy Howard (Metropolitan New York Library Council) and Richard Knipel (Wikimedia New York).
In 2014, over 30 satellite events were simultaneously organised in Australia, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States, taking place in various hosting structures (museums, libraries, a private apartment, etc.).
The marathon brought together around 600 participants, making it possible to create 100 new articles about women and the arts. In 2015, new countries like Belgium, France and New Zealand joined the project. The organisers of Art+Feminism were included on Foreign Policy magazine’s list of 100 Leading Global Thinkers for the implementation of the 2014 marathon.
In 2015, around 1500 people created nearly 400 new entries and improved about 500, working at more than 75 sites including MoMA in New York, the Stedeljik Museum in Amsterdam, the University of Georgia in Athens, and even a private apartment in Brooklyn.
In Paris, on the initiative of curators Mikaela Assolent and Flora Katz, Lafayette Anticipation got involved in the movement by opening its Hub to nearly one hundred contributors. This first Paris edition, the only one in France, was produced in collaboration with American artist Addie Wagenknecht and fifteen trainers.
Editathon 2016 in Paris
Organised in Paris for the second consecutive year, in sync with over one hundred other locations around the world, the Art+Feminism Editathon invites everyone to create, improve or translate articles on the women and minorities who are missing on Wikipedia despite being essential to the history of the plural, open arts. To be improved, gender equality needs everyone’s help: the 85% of Wikipedia contributors who identify themselves as men, and everybody else who feels concerned about this imbalance, are invited to join the Editathon in order to equally write and share their stories on 5 and 6 March at the Archives nationales.
Seeing some of the collections of the Archives nationales, writing on the Wikipedia platform in the Prince’s Ceremonial Hall, chatting and having something to eat in the oval lounge, and finally looking after children while their parents write: these are the elements put in place to comprise two days with an atmosphere that is welcoming to everyone.
Alongside Kvardek du, a Wikimedian who is passionate about contemporary art and committed to egalitarian (epicene) writing on the platform, a volunteer team of around 50 people was formed through workshops held since autumn entitled “The Present of our Knowledge”. They will help participants learn how to use the Wikipedia platform, write about their subjects, and conduct oral exchanges that can be recorded and then posted online. Some subjects have been suggested in advance by participants, while others can be spontaneously tackled on the day of the marathon. The writing can be done alone or as a team, according to each person’s preference. Over the course of two days, participants will share skills, compare points of view, increase their awareness of problems concerning language and the organisation of knowledge, and support long-term action by sharing and writing a more diverse and decentralised history of the arts.
In order to make this subject more receptive, and increase openness to other strains of thought, the Paris edition of the Art+Feminism Editathon has the distinctive feature of working alongside artists. American artist Aaron Flint Jamison, based in Portland Oregon, produced the work and discussion environment in such a way that it allows contents and conversations to circulate fluidly. He also worked on some of the project’s nodes, intensifying them through artistic creations. And Hélène Bertin, based in Paris, designed a visual device that makes it easy to recognise the team: nimble-fingered brass brooches ornament the seams of their clothing. Two-thirds of the team itself is made up of practitioners from the art world (artists, curators, art students, researchers). These newcomers to the Wikipedia platform work alongside experienced wikipedians.
This engagement in writing and sharing a plural, open history of the arts is being extended in time and space. It is extending in space because this year, the Art+Feminism Editathon is being organised at 125 locations, from Winnipeg to the Diocesan Library of Tunis. The internet connects them through writing on Wikipedia, streaming live conversations, and through chat channels, particularly Slack, set up by the Frac Lorraine in Metz.
It is extending in time because Editathon participants will have the tools needed to use the Wikipedia platform, and can continue the dialogue through the Facebook Group artandfeminism.paris, and can also attend “The Present of our Knowledge” workshops, which continue throughout the year.
“Why have there been no great women artists?”, art historian Linda Nochlin asked in 1971. The reasons set out in this emblematic text were not essentialist but rather sociological. It was particularly a lack of access to education (to art schools and universities) that prevented women from producing works of art and writing history. What is the situation today?
During the Art+Feminism Editathon, a convivial forum for dialogue was conceived to set out these questions, while looking into the internet and practices that are lacking visibility, beyond any gender discrimination.
In the oval lounge at the Archives nationale, alongside an eating area, a series of led discussions has been prepared. Everyone can initiate one and record it with a mobile sound capture tool created by artist Aaron Flint Jamison. The discussions will later be posted on the platform archive.org.
On the internet, a chat channel was set up on the Slack platform, where an Art+Feminism team has been created. Editathon participants can exchange views about writing on Wikipedia, and about other topics. To join it, please send a request to the team.
The Facebook group Art+Feminism / Paris, set up before the Editathon, will make it possible to continue the discussions in the future.
🕑 Saturday 5 March at 4pm
Herstory - Writing their stories
Although Wikipédia is an effective tool for distributing knowledge, this collaborative platform does not generate it. Production and the researching of sources (press articles, exhibitions, presence in a collection) are indispensable conditions for increasing understanding of the work of women and underrepresented minorities, and increasing its visibility. How do artists and art professionals go about writing the stories of people we do not yet know? How do they support the production of content about little-known or invisiblised subjects? What are the knots that stand in the way of circulating knowledge on Wikipedia and the internet, and how can they be remedied?
With: Isabelle Alfonsi (co-founder of Marcelle Alix gallery), Dominique Cardon (philosopher and sociologist), Claire Fontaine (artist), Kvardek du (Wikipedian).
Led by Flora Katz
🕑 Sunday 6 March at 2pm
The lives of women who fight back, from education to professional life
Though they make up a large majority in universities, women specialising in art fields struggle to climb the rungs of the hierarchy. Women art historians and critics do not have the same opportunities as their male counterparts: the numbers prove it. We explore the scale of this phenomenon through statistics and personal accounts. Exactly when are women hindered in their careers, and why? How can we imagine breaking this glass ceiling?
Led by Christina Vatsella and Alexia Vahlas
🕑Sunday 6 March at 4pm
From their history to our future
To create a welcoming space that is conducive to constructive dialogue and is open to all singularities (a safe and free space): this was the aim of consciousness-raising groups of the 1960s and 1970s during the liberation movements. Today, the internet is home to a multitude of interfaces in which ideas are constructed collectively through discussions. Does this make them sites of diversity, and how do they generate ways for women and minorities to exchange ideas? How do artists, journalists and institutions use these new forums to produce and share their works? Finally, how do virtual and real spaces interweave through the arts, providing a medium of liberation and openness in civil society?
With Sylvia Fredriksson (professor and web designer), Béatrice Josse (director of the Frac Lorraine), Paul Maheke (artist), et Camille Morineau (co-founder and director of Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions).
Led by Flora Katz
To give everyone the opportunity to participate in the marathon, a nursery was set up, including production workshops for children aged 7 or over. These were created in conjunction with the Art+Feminism Editathon and the educational team at the Archives nationales.
For the duration of the event, the Soli’mômes temporary nursery offers instruction and an environment designed to provide children with quality care: creative early-learning workshops, a rest and reading corner, an infant-care space and bathrooms. As an actor of the social and solidarity economy, E2S Développement is involved in social innovation research. The team is made up of qualified professionals specialising in early childhood, support and social engineering, to benefit from cross-expertise.
As a worker cooperative in the early childhood sector, it constitutes a new experiment fully linked to fundamental cooperative values: giving primacy to human beings, democracy, solidarity and sharing. All employees are entitled to become associates. This dual quality enables each employee to take part in major decisions and elect the manager according to the principle that one person = one voice. This involvement stems from the recognition of employees as human being who need to blossom at work.
Temporary nursery, for children aged 6 months to 6 years.
Saturday 5 March from 1pm to 7pm
Sunday 6 March from 1pm to 6pm
Production workshops for children aged 7 and over
Saturday 5 March and Sunday 6 March at 2pm and 4pm
A writing workshop, in the form of a comic strip, on the Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen, written by Olympe de Gouges in 1791
Saturday 5 & Sunday 6 March 2016
🕐 11 am to 9 pm
60 rue des Francs Bourgeois,
Saturday 5 March 2016
"Herstory - Write her stories"
With : Isabelle Alfonsi (co-founder ofgalerie Marcelle Alix), Dominique Cardon (philosopher and sociologist), Claire Fontaine (artist), Kvardek du (wikipédien-ne).
Discussion led by Flora Katz
Sunday 6 March 2016
"Fighter journey, from education to professional life"
Discussion led by Christina Vatsella and Alexia Vahlas
"From her stories to our future"
With : Sylvia Fredricksson (professor and web designer), Béatrice Josse (director of Frac Lorraine), Paul Maheke (artist), and Camille Morineau (co-foundeur and director of Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions).
Discussion led by Flora Katz
Produced by Lafayette Anticipation, Fondation d'entreprise Galeries Lafayette in the context of the global Art+Feminism campaign.
In partnership with Wikimédia France and the Archives nationales.
Organization: Kvardek du and Flora Katz, with the productions of Hélène Bertin and Aaron Flint Jamison.
Composed by the participants of the workshop "The Present of our Knowledge", Wikimédia writers, the students of the Master 1 Métiers des Arts et de la Culture de Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, archivists from the Archives nationales :
Als33120, Annie, Ash Crow, Laetitia Badaut Haussmann, Pauline Berni, Marguerite Blanchot, Sébastien Borderie, Chahinez Bourouaih, Alsy Bustamante, Sarah Chabrier, Chaoborus, Jagna Ciuchta, Maxime Coulbeaux, Marie Delas, Diaz Clément, DeuxPlusQuatre, Mimosa Echard, Mélanie Favel, Romain Guillet, Harmonia, Sarah Holveck, Emmanuelle De Hericourt, Lévana Gautier, Briac Geffrault, Danai Giannoglou, Thibaut Girard, Fabienne Guinot, Camille Morineau, Pauline Hervault, Judith Juillerat, Tarik Kiswanson, Oleksandra Khrypko, Oceane Le Corre, Anna Lee, Mélaine Loison, LurKin, Stéphanie Mahé, Léa Malgouyres, Juliette Marie, Adélaïde Martin, Ivanoé Masset, Margot Miossec, Agathe Moley, Guilhem Morand, Anne-Marie Morice, Laura Moulinoux, Lauriane Napodano, Nattes à Chat, Stephanie Noël, Léna Ollivier, Paul-Antoine Parot, Elodie Petit, Léa Perier, Elise Pierre, Eva Poncet, Pyb, Barbara Quintin, Angélique Rault, Rault Yeelen Raynaud, Camille Richert, Clémentine Rougier, Clothilde Roullier, Justine Rousseau, Clothilde Rouiller, Sylvain Ruault, Martina Sabbadini, Shonagon, Jeanne Turpault, ThbtGrrd, Eden Tinto Collins, Alexia Vahlas, Christina Vatsella, Alexia Vittori, X-Javier.
Welcome team for the children's space
SCOP E2S Développement, Pedagogical team of the Archives nationales.
Art+Feminism Siân Evans, Jacqueline Mabey, Michael Mandiberg.
Many thanks to
Mikaela Assolent, HOME, Katinka Bock, Florence Bonnefous, Clara Gensburger, Emmanuelle Huynh, Sorana Munteanu, Anne-Laure Prévost, Jean-Philippe Kmiec et Mathieu Denel de Wikimedia France, Anne Rousseau des Archives nationales, Tristan Garcia, Sébastien Rémy, Barbara Sirieix, Marie Voignier, Galerie Air de Paris, Galerie Miguel Abreu, Galerie Marcelle Alix, Galerie Jérome Poggi, Section 7 Books, Galerie Jocelyn Wolff, Centre Culturel Suisse.