ABSTRACT

Critics, theorists and historians also participate in this double play of materiality and agency; theory is not transparently applied to mute objects by disembodied, knowing subjects, but emerges from the positioning activities of knowledge projects. Following Buchanan, the questions we ask of women making art participate in the meanings which are produced – we are implicated in the productive relation. This is not a bad thing. Indeed, throughout this volume, I argue that engaging with women’s art differently changes both what and how we know about histories, subjectivities and aesthetics, and that close attention to the double play of materiality and agency in women’s art enables us to ask new questions of vital importance to the future. This locates me as a partner in dialogue with women making art rather than in the position of a privileged interpreter, explicating the inherent truths of women, art and cultural history. In an important sense, my task here is not to reveal the essence of female subjectivity expressed in art (even if this were possible), but to explore the work of women’s art, the work it can do in articulating histories, subjects and sensory knowledges against the grain.