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Archive for March, 2010

(Dis)agreements? – the utility, effectiveness, and problematics of categories

(Dis)agreements? – the utility, effectiveness, and problematics of categories. Performance; a video with audio 6:00 min, an agreement, a teach-in 45:00 min, a letter. YES! Association / Föreningen JA! in collaboration with Hong-An Truong, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Brooklyn Museum, 2010

May 22, 2010 we participated in making ourselves visible: a day-long project in feminist space-making initiated by Jen Kennedy and Liz Linden at the Sackler Center, Brooklyn Museum with the teach-in (Dis)agreements? – the utility, effectiveness, and problematics of categories.

We began the teach-in by making the following statement: We will start by making an announcement; We are very happy and excited to share with you that the Brooklyn Museum and YES! Association / Föreningen JA! have signed YES! Association / Föreningen JA!’s Equality-Diversity Agreement #3. This has not yet been publicly announced, but we decided since this is such a special occasion to share our news with you already today. We will soon watch a short video* with footage from the actual signing of the agreement, followed by short interviews with Brooklyn Museum staff, artists and visitors about the anticipated effects of this. The different opinions expressed can be used as starting points in the discussion that will follow after the screening, when each of you will get a copy of the Equality-Diversity Agreement #3. Before watching the video we want to extend our deepest gratitude and thanks to everybody at the Brooklyn Museum for their involvement, especially Director Arnold Lehman and Judy Kim, one of the museum’s main curators for their courage, patience and support during the negotiations, thank you Melissa Chou, Brooklyn Museum’s lawyer who has worked so enthusiastically on the agreement, but most of all we want to thank the Sackler Center, all its staff and especially Elizabeth Sackler who really is the person who has made this possible and bridged the dialogue between YES! and the Brooklyn Museum. Thank you all very much!

Read the Equality-Diversity Agreement #3 here

May 26 we sent out the following email to everybody participation in the teach-in:

Dear friends of YES! Association / Föreningen JA!,

We want to thank all of you who participated in our teach-in (Dis)agreements? – the utility, effectiveness, and problematics of categories at the Sackler Center, Brooklyn Museum, Saturday May 22 (and thanks to all of you who wanted to be there but couldn’t). Your feedback, thoughts, objections and cheers meant a lot to us and will be very helpful in our continued work.

We are writing this letter to announce that the Equality-Diversity Agreement #3 we shared with you and discussed during the teach-in was real, its politics were real, the time and effort, patience and passion put into writing the agreement was real. The moment (euphoric for some and dysphoric for others) of “is-this-really-happening-in-my-lifetime?!” feeling was real. The claim that the Brooklyn Museum has signed the Equality-Diversity Agreement #3, however, was not real. And the video was fiction.

When we were invited to give the teach-in about half a year ago our first intention was to start negotiating and collectively formulate an agreement together with the staff at the Sackler Center and discuss this process with you at the teach-in. Due to time restraints and miscommunication we were unable to do this, but decided to proceed with the project anyway if not in reality, then in the realm of fiction. To this end, we staged the teach-in as a rehearsal for the future.

We wanted to give us all a chance to discuss the agreement, feminist politics and art institutions, how we can make institutions accountable, the utility, effectiveness, and problematics of categories from a positive, contingent starting point beyond the familiar “this-will-never-happen-anyway” position. We took this opportunity, as artists and dedicated hard working feminists to start from the other end so to speak. Discouraged by constant NO!s we wanted the discussion to begin with a big collective YES! to see were that would take us.

By making real what we wanted to be real, we had hoped that the situation would produce real-time effects. What actualized during the workshop was a productive and intense conversation that might not have happened if the situation wasn’t assumed to be real. It evoked reactions and emotions that are the crux of both the problematics and potentialities of such an agreement.

We are now hoping to begin a positive communication with the Sackler Center in reality. If you felt mobilized by taking part in this rehearsal please write to us and share your comments or opinions on how to improve the agreement, or suggest other ways of making institutions accountable to a feminist end. Or, if you would rather stay in the realm of fiction, why not write to the Brooklyn Museum and congratulate them on signing our agreement?

Again, we would like to thank you for being part of this utopian moment (at least for us) and ask you to understand our strategic use of fiction. We sincerely hope that we will have the honor to share a similar moment with you again not too far in the future.

Yours sincerely,
YES! Association / Föreningen JA!
Åsa, Johanna, Hong-An and Malin

Read more about making ourselves visible: a day-long project in feminist space-making here >>

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*This video is strictly fictional, based on a script by the YES! Association / Föreningen JA!. The characters are performed by actors and are not meant to represent or resemble anybody working at the Brooklyn Museum. The views expressed by the characters in this video are based on discussions we have had with numerous people and are meant to further and deepen discussions regarding the implications of the Equality-Diversity Agreement.

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The YES! Association has been invited by artists and theorists Faith Wilding and Kate Davis to participate in their exhibition project The Long Loch: How Do We Go On From Here? in collaboration with The Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA) in Glasgow, as part of Glasgow International 2010 (April 16th-May 29th 2010). Faith Wilding and Kate Davis writes as follows: ”This collaborative endeavor seeks to explore how the history of our own separate art practices can come together to illuminate and learn from feminist concerns and legacies in a way that is both pertinent to ‘a present’ of Glasgow 2010 and aware of a need to think ahead”. Our participation will partly be through a “YES! package” consisting of: a documentation of Press Conference/Performance (2005), the Equal Opportunities Agreement (#1, 2005) and a packet of Swedish coffee of the brand Gevalia. This is our contribution to the monthly reading group Read Out! Read In! Feminist Lines of Flight in Art and Politics part of the project The Long Loch: How Do We Go On From Here?

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Naiti del Sante gives a lecture at Röda Sten about the current anti-discrimination legislation using the YES! Association’s work with formulating an equality agreement in collaboration with Röda Sten as a point of departure.

Below is a short description and background information to the project EQUALITY AGREEMENT (5 YEARS LATER).

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Don’t ask: “Are you for or against quotas?” Ask instead: “Why are women (and other groups) under-represented, and which are the alternative options one could apply, including quotas, to change this historical under representation.”

As part of the exhibition A Space on the Side of the Road at Röda Sten in 2009, the YES! Association staged the performance When hell froze over – a performance in 4 parts. The performance consisted of a fictitious negotiation concerning the agreement demanding gender and ethnic equality that the YES! Association has developed since 2005. A starting point was Augosto Boal’s theory that through performances one can “rehearse” certain situations to gain experiences that can be used to change the reality we live in.

When hell froze over – a performance in 4 parts was realized after a longer period of communication between the YES! Association, the curators of A Space on the Side of the Road, and the staff, board and members of Röda Sten. After five intense hours at the negotiation table the parties agreed on a new version of the agreement. Also present at the table were representatives from artists, visitors, A&B, and a few who had lost their way.

Since then the project has developed to EUQALITY AGREEMENT (5 YEARS LATER) which is collaboration between the YES! Association and Röda Sten with the goal to develop the agreement so it can be signed also “in reality”. The objective of the agreement is to increase cultural, ethic and social diversity in the art world, while simultaneously pointing out that we all have a gender, an ethnicity, a class belonging and a sexual orientation, and that these positionalities influence both the course of the institution as well as the individual’s agency and ability to act.

How can we “name” without risking to reproduce the confining categories that we want to leave behind? In which contexts can the act of “naming” instead work emancipatory and lead to increased agency? How can the right to self-definition work in the agreement and how can it be implemented constructively in the daily work at Röda Sten?

During the project, the YES! Association worked out a Equal Opportunities Monitoring Form and related agreements in a step to allow the Röda Sten will be able and willing to sign the YES! Assciation’s Equal Opportunities Agreement.

Kartläggningsformulär för jämlika villkor / Equal Opportunities Monitoring Form.pdf

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The project includes several parts, in 2010 there was a series of public presentations:

>> March 17, 2010 6.30-7 pm at Röda Sten

The YES! Association presents the project EUQALITY AGREEMENT (5 YEARS LATER)

Johanna Gustavsson, Åsa Elzén, Kajsa Dahlberg and Henrik Andersson give a lecture at Röda Sten about the YES! Association’s work and the collaboration with Röda Sten on this project.

>> June 22, 2010 6-7.30 pm at Röda Sten

Can Art be Discriminating? A discussion about the application of the Discrimination Act on the field of art.

Naiti del Sante gives a lecture at Röda Sten about the current anti-discrimination legislation using the YES! Association’s work with formulating an equality agreement in collaboration with Röda Sten as a point of departure.

Naiti del Sante is a lawyer and works as a lecturer in EU legislation and anti-discrimination legislation at Södertörns Högskola. She also works as an investigator at the Equality Ombudsman (DO).

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Sorry, this entry is only available in Swedish.

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  • YES! Association / Föreningen JA! was an art collective, an artwork, an association, an art worker, an institution, a group of people working to overthrow the ruling system of heteronormative, patriarchal, racist, and capitalist power structures by putting into practice a structural redistribution of access to financial resources, space and time within the (art) field.
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