In this talk, Aristarkhova will situate selected works of the early Soviet artist Varvara Stepanova and contemporary feminist punk rock group Pussy Riot within comparative feminist theory, providing an alternative to arguments that their creative work has a lack of or traditional “gender agenda,” has nothing to do with real art (nastoyascheye iskusstvo), and finally, has nothing to do with real politics. The analysis will show that the dangers in Stepanova’s and Pussy Riot’s work lie in their questioning of the traditional definitions of sexual difference, culture, and politics and their ability to simultaneously sustain the positions of woman-artist-citizen.
Irina Aristarkhova is associate professor of art & design, history of art, and women’s studies and faculty affiliate at the Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies and the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Michigan. She writes on and lectures in comparative feminist theory and contemporary art. She edited and contributed to Woman Does Not Exist: Contemporary Studies of Sexual Difference (in Russian, 1999), and the Russian translation of Luce Irigaray’s An Ethics of Sexual Difference (2005). Aristarkhova’s latest book is titled Hospitality of the Matrix: Philosophy, Biomedicine, and Culture (2012).
Part of the series Pluralism in Politics and Culture, a new initiative jointly sponsored by CREES and WCED that examines the foundations of free and open societies. The project builds on the university’s rich legacy of study and support of the dissident culture in the former Soviet Union and on several existing efforts at U-M. The series focuses on multiple facets of political pluralism, including its legal, cultural, and economic dimensions, and explore them in a broader historical context.
Sponsors: CREES, WCED