Opening Statement

The Department of Feminist Conversations is an intervention into contemporary criticality that seeks to broaden conversations about life and art through the perspective of contemporary feminisms.

Founded by the writers Diana Damian Martin, Mary Paterson & Maddy Costa, The Department of Feminist Conversations embodies feminism as a political stance and a historical discourse. It approaches art as the symbolic and material terrain that both represents and influences the concerns of culture at large. We want to understand criticism as a plural, collective engagement, to consider what might constitute a contemporary cultural discourse, and widen access to both. We want to establish a feminist framework for speaking beyond women’s issues, about art, performance, politics and social organisation.

Through discussions, events, roaming assemblies and a series of published pamphlets, The Department of Feminist Conversations will create a visible, embodied and inclusive practice of feminist discourse in public space.

WHY

The Department’s activities are guided by three primary questions:

  • How do we communicate between different kinds and different generations of feminists?
  • How can we access a feminist canon of art, writing and popular culture? Is it extant but invisible, and/ or does it need to be (re)created?
  • How can feminism(s) exist as a critical space for the production of knowledge, without being compromised by the structures of patriarchal language, status and power?

Our approach builds on the thoughts and actions of our feminist predecessors, while attempting to avoid the pitfalls of the so-called third and fourth waves. We pay attention to personal experience in order to expose the assumptions at the heart of patriarchal society, but recognise the limitations of our worldview as a more-or-less homogeneous group (all living with white and middle-class privilege), and make intersectional awareness and inclusivity key strategies for learning and thinking. Neoliberalism fuels debates surrounding questions of privilege, identity and co-option: we seek to develop criticality towards these issues, while creating a space for productive discourse related to difference, visibility and autonomy.

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