dearest hank blog readers,
my name is bronwyn lewis. i worked with whitney and rachael to produce the burlesque performances for tonight’s reception, and will be performing as wiggy stardust in a piece inspired by my research on carolee for this symposium.
a few months ago, i checked out some of carolee’s books of works and essays from the seattle public library, to become more familiar with her work and to help me figure out whom to invite to perform. as i started reading imaging her erotics, i became totally incensed- someone who had checked this book out previously had graffiti’ed it with some really misogynistic comments, drawings, and projections. it mostly just was annoying, until i got to her essay women in the year 2000, which directly spoke to my own art school experience, where i was not allowed to show my work along with my fellow students at our thesis exhibition– and there was written “dreams of a liberated idiot”. carolee’s words about her experience being censored and her hopes for an easier future for women artists in combination with some really hateful, sexist, and despairing commentary from a previous anonymous reader/researcher was infuriating. i wanted to censor whoever had written those comments (see images below). but after having a conversation with my amazing, feminist artist housemate, paula the swedish housewife, i came to see how the graffiti could inform the work i was creating for the show, and could be part of a larger art experience.
i must confess that i am totally conflicted about returning this library book to circulation. i kind of want to keep it as a talisman of carolee’s and my journey as young female artists; and as a cultural hallmark of how much and how little has changed; and as a reminder that we must never become complacent or accept the status quo. but i do want to share some of these images with you, and would love to hear about your experience of them.