If We Carry On Speaking the Same Language to Each Other, We Are Going to End Up Repeating The Same History
If We Carry on Speaking to each other the Same Language, We Will Reproduce the Same History
A Series of collaborative sessions organized by Mikaela Assolent and Flora Katz in November 2014 at PARMER, Brooklyn.

With: Maia Asshaq, Arlen Austin, Lindsay Benedict, Amber Berson, Maibritt Borgen, Catherine Czacki, Leah DeVun & Risa Puleo, Alaina Claire Feldman, Saisha Grayson, Joseph Imhauser, Rochelle Goldberg & Sara Constantino, Ariel Goldberg, Cassandra Guan, Megan Heeres & Corrie Baldauf, Liz Linden, Jordan Lord, Kylie Lockwood, Jane Long, Jacqueline Mabey, Trista Mallory, Huong Ngo, Michala Paludan, Rit Premnath, Anna Ostoya, Chloé Rossetti, Julia Trotta, Cheyanne Turions, Wendy Vogel.

Access to the blog dedicated to the documentation of the project here

Session 2, November 15 2014, PARMER, Brooklyn

At the end of her book This Sex Which Is Not One (1976), Luce Irigaray addresses another woman and imagines what their experience could be outside of a social construction created by men, for men. She observes, “If we carry on speaking the same language to each other, we are going to end up repeating the same history.” For Irigaray, women’s liberation is not only about deconstructing imposed roles and identities, but also reappropriating and/or inventing a language of our very own, that allows us to invent and live entirely new stories. To do so, we must start from scratch and independently rebuild what was previously confiscated.

From the beginning of the 1970s, many activists, in order to extricate themselves from logic that impeded unique expression, created women-only groups devoted to exploring and revealing a consciousness of their own. Due to oppression from various fronts, these “separatist” groups, who thought of themselves as being outsiders to the dominant discourse, eventually took on more complex dimensions: black feminism, radical lesbians, lesbians of color descended from colonialism, slavery, or immigration, etc. Nowadays, along with queer thinking, we are going beyond the simple female/male dichotomy. For instance, we could conceive of other transversal coalitions developing, such as “femmes”/“queens”, or “bears”/“butches”. However, how would we be able avoid repeating the same errors of the past, whereby the action of excluding ourselves from a given group excludes others by the same token? Moreover, since the idea is to move away from restrictive identities, how can we make sure we do not simply recreate new restrictions based on different criteria? After all, we must not inadvertently close definitions where we expected to open up new possibilities.

Today, numerous artist collectives (the YES! Association, Community Action Center, CAGE, contemporary feminism), art centers (Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art., Feminist Art Gallery, Centre A, CAC Brétigny), magazines (Pétunia, George), and other projects (react feminism, Between the Door and the Street) are creating spaces of thought and action that, outside the mainstream, are weaving new stories. Along with many other non artistic collectives (WORTH, SPARK, AF3IRM), they experiment other means of encounter and expression to pursue feminist questions and fight to be non-exclusionary.

How can we render these pursuits accessible in order to make us all feel implicated? Meanwhile, can the tools and methodologies of feminism be employed to make the field of contemporary art confront its own selection and rejection mechanisms?


In the spirit of collective encounters, as conceived by Lois Weaver (The Long Table) and Malin Arnell (The Oncoming Corner) and inspired by texts which reflect on art as a space for a community to come (John Roberts, Art, ‘Enclave Theory’ and the Communist Imaginary, Third Text, July 2009) we invite you to participate in one of a series of collaborative evenings taking place at PARMER in November 2014. Together, we will further investigate the questions evoked above. We would like to experiment using the sharing of experiences and knowledge to undo the inherent power dynamics of the groups assembled. Thus, we aim to consider these sessions as a space for the collective production and exchange of singularities.

Each person is invited to bring an element, prepared beforehand, that is as close as possible to their own practice or life. The element, such as a text, anecdote, performance, video, object, etc., will be up for discussion according to the conversation format and staging chosen by its presenter. Listening, commenting, and contributing will be open, with participants being free to speak spontaneously, whenever possible. Each individual will thus be able to negotiate their own contribution to the session.

With the aim of questioning even the parameters of these sessions themselves, the procedure used to compose the participant groups will also be discussed. As a space open by invitation, PARMER seeks other strategies of inclusiveness to redefine the boundaries of what is public. What defines the level of accessibility of an artistic space? How this ephemeral community that we will constitute during the session can have strong common grounds and the right level of openness?

Each session will have a maximum of 9 participants. Any individuals who wish to participate are invited to contact the session organizers in order to initiate a conversation regarding the details of participation.

PARMER is a platform for programing and exhibitions based in New York that focuses on feminism and feminist strategies. The first series began on February 1, 2014 in Bed Stuy and focused on the relationship between feminism and technology with projects from Lindsay Benedict, Nikita Gale, Liz Linden and Jen Kennedy, Aviva Rahmani and Heather Bursch. The second series focuses on feminism and dialogic space and will began in the fall of 2014. This series includes projects from Cassandra Guan, Siân Evans and Jacqueline Mabey as well as Flora Katz and Mikaela Assolent.

Throughout 2015 PARMER will be hosted by Abrons Arts Center, the performing and visual art program of Henry Street Settlement. The program consists of screenings, reading groups, exhibitions, and events that use the triangulation of feminism, film, and psychoanalysis to think critically about representations of women in modern screen culture, the discourse of global warming, construction of desire, feminist temporality, narrative and affect. Participants and collaborators will include: Tom Ackers, Melanie Gilligan, Sara Eliassen, Cassandra Guan, David Kelly, Marie Kølbæk Iversen, pilot press … and Shifter amongst others.

More info here

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Images of the Finissage:
Various works, documents and objects brought or conceived, individually or collectively, by the participants along four sessions at PARMER on November 10, 15, 17 and 22, 2014. Presented on November 23, 2014 at PARMER on the occasion of a friendly public gathering.
Most of the materials will be readable in the next posts on the blog.

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