‘Then art will change. This is the future’
Nancy Spero’s manifestary practice
in Mixed messages
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Writing during a period of deep involvement with feminist and art world activism, Nancy Spero argues against male supremacy and the bourgeois logic that reduces all things to the status of objects. Examining the structural exclusions of the masculinist art world, Spero rails against patriarchy and its silencing of female creativity. In this essay, Warriner contends that Spero’s written pronouncements inform her visual practice theoretically, and that this is particularly evident in her epic 1976-9 piece Notes in Time on Women. Examining the nature of the translation from a literary form into a visual one, she explores how Spero’s message is not straightforwardly declared, as in a traditional manifesto, but instead is worked through the voices of others. Under Spero’s careful manipulations, the manifesto form is deployed to create a powerful and persuasive image-text. Using critical elaborations of the literary manifesto from Janet Lyon and Martin Puchner, Warriner argues that Notes in Time on Women represents a visual art manifesto that constructs an anti-patriarchal message out of appropriated images and texts.

Mixed messages

American correspondences in visual and verbal practices

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