Performance Art and Feminisms

                                                                            with Marissa Vigneault

Course Description

This course addresses feminist performance art through the lens of the art historical and the contemporary, with constant consideration of how historical concerns continue to manifest in the present. Feminist performance art of the 1970s quite specifically pulled from political actions surrounding the women’s movement, including active protests and collaborative consciousness-raising sessions. We focus on the work of artists such as Hannah Wilke, Ana Mendieta, Adrian Piper, Martha Wilson, and Suzanne Lacy, as a way to understand how their work reflects the multiple positions of feminism, and therefore operates as a reinforcement of the “personal as political” that sits at the center of feminist art. Throughout the course, we assess how and why feminist performance art incorporates questions of gender and sexual identity, as well as racial, ethnic, and class based concerns, and the reasons why feminist performance art is a particularly strategic way of addressing political interests. As performance is already a subversive act, in that it aims to destabilize absolute truths regarding the body and social categorizations, it may be viewed as a considerable tool for questioning and dismantling perceived rules that regulate social relations and bodily expectations.


About Marissa Vigneault

Marissa Vigneault’s research focuses on the role of performance and performativity in modern and contemporary art, with particular attention on the construction of identity in visual culture (fashion, burlesque, and films). Dr. Vigneault’s current research examines pioneering feminist artist Hannah Wilke (1940-1993), whose body-oriented performances and video art in the 1970s contributed to the art world’s re-visioning of the female nude. The study emphasizes Wilke’s art’s connections with New York City’s avant-garde fashion industry, department stores, burlesque clubs, cinema and television, and other “low culture” displays of female nudity and feminine spectacle in order to demonstrate the intersection between her feminist tactics and those of mass-market consumerism. Dr. Vigneault’s publications include essays in Women’s Studies and the anthology Contemporary Art and Classical Myth, as well as numerous essays for museum catalogues. She has presented her research at the College Art Association conference; Popular Culture Association conference; Feminist Art History conference; University of Johannesburg; Columbia University; Association of Art Historians conference; SECAC; and Association of Historians of American Art conference. She is currently lead book reviews editor for Panorama, the online peer-review journal of AHAA.


AVAILABILITY Places still available
DURATION October 31-November 21, 2022; Mondays 6-8pm CET
LOCATION Online course
TUITION FEE 175 €  (no equipment required)



"My expectations to learn about feminist performance art were met to a greater extent than I was expecting."


Course Image Caption
Barbara T. Smith, "Incorporate," 1978, image courtesy of the artist