In January 1972, Miriam Schapiro and Judy Chicago (co-founders of The Feminist Arts Program at The California Institute of The Arts), imagined and installed the collaborative feminist exhibition, “Womanhouse.” Focused on implementing consciousness-raising model techniques as part of their feminist arts and design discourse, (similarly to their approach with Shiela Levrant de Bretteville for Everywoman Newspaper), the pair embarked on constructing an interactive, impermanent “home,” to generate discursive dialogue surrounding the role of women, particularly within arts and design. In addition to showcasing work from The Feminist Arts Program and iconic womanist artists, Schapiro & Chicago encouraged the participation of the local community, however only female artists were authorized to submit their work. Each room in “Womanhouse,” was dedicated to a particular dialogue, the kitchen, for example, titled “Eggs to Breasts,” addressed notions of nurture and caregiving, “forms covering the ceilings and walls, start as eggs and gradually transform into breasts as the pattern continues down the wall, this is to underscore women's traditional role as nurturer by combining images of the kitchen with a woman’s sagging breasts.” The epochal “Menstruation Room,” covered top to toe in gauze, with a focal trashcan abundant with used tampons addressed the buried nature of the menstrual cycle or monthly “secret,” women feel forced to withhold. The exhibition ran for 30+ days, although the first day was dedicated exclusively to a female audience.
As cultural template: Aside from constructing The Feminist Arts Program at The California Institute of The Arts, Shapiro and Chicago established a series of physical, systemic and cultural infrastructures with the mission of supporting women and women-centric spaces. Their combination of ephemeral, abstract and tangible classifications contributed to the redistribution or reimagination of existing frameworks.
Sheila Levrant De Bretteville continues to redefine the contemporary design landscape for women. Aside from actively infusing feminist principles into her works, she radically advocated for the community at large, starting with the founding of the first ever design program for women in California which she established in 1971. Soon after, she co-founded the Woman’s Building, a faction in Los Angeles, focused on women’s education, rights, culture, and representation. Two years later she co-founded three additional feminist initiatives, the Women’s Graphic Centre, the Feminist Studio Workshop (both as a result of the Woman’s Building), and pioneered an issue of the “Everywoman Newspaper,” a feminist publication based on a Consciousness - Raising model she imagined with Miriam Shapiro. Everywoman challenged traditional hierarchical models of information architecture and infrastructure in that it hosted an egalitarian space for commentary and criticism; every individual that contributed to the publication (junior or senior) was granted the same space and layout. (See image of Everywoman Newspaper, and centerfold excerpt “CUNT, Cheering Ourselves.” The issue was created in honor of Ti-Grace Atkinson, a radical feminist author, who was collaborating at the time with Miriam Shapiro). In “A Reexamination of Some Aspects of The Design Arts from The Perspective of A Woman Designer,” Shiela discusses notions of simplicity vs. complexity in the context of women and representation, arguing that complexity provides insight in addition to a more robust, inclusive dialogue; and as a result, landscape and future. In an effort to expose and reinforce the female experience of (and within) design Shiela investigates workflows, postulating that women operate in fragments, designing “multiple peaks rather than single climatic moments,” she visually exemplifies this notion of non-hierarchical organization by referencing a quilt titled “Horse,” by artist Helen Mary Rounsville. This concept is further illustrated in her own work “Pink,” in which she invited 100+ women from the American Institute of Graphic Arts to each generate a 30” square inquiring into their relationship with the color pink to initiate a conversation surrounding gender. The piece itself became a collective assemblage of sorts, constructed comprehensively over a series of months.
De Bretteville’s classic eye bolt necklace (which was later activated in her Women in Design Conference poster), became an iconic symbol deeply affiliated with her continued inquiry into women’s culture.; the eye bolt was reimagined to redefine female strength, “without a fist.”
As cultural template: Shiela not only created physical infrastructures with the Women’s Building, Women’s Graphic Center, Feminist Studio Workshop and Everywoman’s Newspaper, she also created and implemented theoretical systems, structures, symbols and methodologies as modes of inquiry.
The 5th Wave seeks to investigate cultural templates and infrastructural capacities surrounding women, power, and authority. Constructed collaboratively through an exchange of creative and technical skills, The 5th Wave implements a research through design methodology in which it infiltrates a predominantly male framing environment to take shape. Additionally, it is conceived of with a specific obstruction; it must resemble an artwork of Isamu Noguchi; more specifically, it must integrate seamlessly within the Noguchi museum’s environment. Composed of both Maple and Ash symbolizing strength, endurance and the intersection of time, The 5th Wave illustrates the four (existing and historic) waves of Feminism, while alluding to a future fifth, with its five ligneous crests. With its graduated color palette, boundless form and dynamic modality, viewers are encouraged to interact with and arrange the sculpture either to interrogate or reflect their ideals surrounding the subject matter. Fabricated with classical framing technologies, The 5th Wave takes on a metaphorical dimension in which it directly addresses the concept of framing or lens-making through its form. Each segment, distinctly an unlocked or incomplete frame, suggests an open dialogue, while equally establishing an opportunity to close off or define a space with its various parts. Cut across the grain and finished utilizing a variety of tools, materials, and procedures, The 5th Wave has endured dye, shellac, sandpaper, and wax, all of which have left residues and distinct markings. Varnished to maintain its integrity, we are left to contemplate its beauty, perhaps one of its inescapable fates.
As cultural template: Each crescent represents a historical or future wave of feminism while embodying the notion of the template itself through its form. The manner and exchange in which the piece was constructed directly addresses institutional frameworks and dynamics; most notably exemplifying the notion of collaborative disruption.
In April 2017 Hagen Verleger was invited to do a year-long residency at The Van Eyck post-academic institute for artistic talent development in Maastricht, Netherlands. As he immersed himself in his new environment Hagen discovered that all areas within the institution were named exclusively after white men; his interest was piqued, and he decided to investigate further. As he considers what was to become the beginning of his year long (and much continued) investigation, Hagen began researching female equivalents to the male names he found scattered across the Van Eyck halls. Soon, he generated typographic decals of the female names of his choosing (mirroring the Van Eyck branding and font) and applied them on top of the established male names; more often than not situated above doorways of studios. Before long Hagen was granted permission by the institute to temporarily rebrand the exterior of the building to Margaret van Eyck, although the walls were anti-graffiti and literally rejected the decals which eventually peeled off the exterior, (Hagen felt this was a perfect metaphor for the renunciation of renaming by the institute). Eventually, Hagen created an alternative web portal, Margaret Van Eyck merchandise and designed and engaged in a series of renaming ceremonies with his colleagues. Subsequently, he discovered that applications to the institute started coming through the Margaret Van Eyck alternative gateway, indicating consumer interest within the alternative reality, the inclusive reality which stood by unsung women. After, Hagen embarked on an extensive but related exhibition in the Van Eyck library in which all books written by male authors were set on their side (so at a glance one could discover the disparity of male vs. female authors represented, but also immediately, although impermanently, one could have direct access to female authors within the space). Hagen presents Margaret Van Eyck as an “ongoing, collaborative, research project at the intersection of feminist intervention, institutional critique and the politics of renaming.” He has issued two volumes on the initiative, “Margaret van Eyck - Renaming an Institution, a Case Study Volume 1: Research, Interventions and Effects,” and “Margaret van Eyck - Renaming an Institution, a Case Study Volume 2: Comments, Contexts, and Connections.” Hagen came to speak as a guest lecturer at Pratt Institute in September 2018, we met there and then independently, he very generously encouraged my thesis exploration and offered to support my work. I look to him as a mentor in my ongoing investigation.
As cultural template: Hagen directly addresses institutional and cultural templates, by subverting, overlaying and infiltrating them through processes of renaming, and constructive intervention.
Barbara Kruger, known for her iconic, constructivist black and white paste-ups challenges notions of gender, identity, power, and sexuality through a variety of collaged mediums. Starting with early wallhangings constructed with found materials, book covers and poetry readings, Kruger was interested in supporting the feminist resurgence through a convalescence of a craft. After years of working on what Kruger deemed “abstract and meaningless,” works (mainly referring to her crochet series) she turned to cut-outs and collages, predominantly utilizing found black and white images she deconstructed (appropriating photography from consumerist magazines she was conceptually critiquing within the same piece) and overlaid with Futura and Helvetica oblique captions, (white serifs on red boxed backgrounds). Many of Kruger's later works (after the 80‘s) comment on misogyny, consumerism, and sexism, most notably in “Your Comfort is My Silence,” “I Shop Therefore I am,” and “Your Body is a Battleground.” “Your Comfort is My Silence,” directly addresses and challenges the nature in which women are (and continue to be silenced) by men in society. “I Shop Therefore I am,” alludes to consumerism in true Pop Warholian form while “Your Body is a Battleground,” was designed as a response to support the legalization of abortion during the Women’s March on Washington in 1989, similar posters supporting the initiative such as “77% of anti-abortion leaders are men, 100% of them will never ben pregnant,” where issued in tandem. While echoing constructivism, mass culture via Pop Art (and advertising appeal), Kruger deftly leverages her provocative, charged and suggestive works for social purpose.
“Super-rich-Ultra gorgeous, Extra Skinny - Forever Young,” similarly to “Your Comfort is My Silence,” generates dialogue surrounding standards of beauty, confinement and subjugation, while “The Future Belongs To Those Who Can See It,” and “We Won’t Play Nature to your Culture,” practively injects women into the dialogue dynamically and forcefully.
As cultural template: Kruger consistently and unapologetically deconstructs systems both visually and linguistically while metaphorically laying ground over / challenging the status quo as a symbol of both resistance, restructuring.
Space Place is part of a series of cultural probes and toolkits which seek to investigate and reimagine our relationships to space. A suite of three cultural probes (Space Pace, CLIP and TAG which you will find within Cultural Templates) are designed as investigative, interactive zines. In Transformation B, we were encouraged to choose a particular space to focus on in the construction of our probes; I decided on Bluestockings Bookstore, Cafe & Activist Center as a cultural template. Constructed to navigate space through the 5 Senses via collage making, Taste, Sight, Touch, Smell and Sound, Space Place provides directions and infrastructure to inspirit the reader. Each sense is broken down into a sequence of descriptors and then matched with a physical cut out, providing the materials and foundations for collage investigations. As the toolkit is relatively abstract, sample collages are included to offer support and provide a frame of reference. The notion of zine arose as a result of Bluestocking’s selection, it seemed a natural place to expand upon as it offers a playful and interactive environment for readers to explore and investigate. (See research sketch of Bluestocking’s zine area). Additionally, as part of the investigation for the cultural probe I engaged in a series of free writing exercises to consider navigating the space:
When I close my eyes, I use my ears, nose and body to experience my environment. At Bluestockings I am aware of the calm silence (despite being on Allen Street), the light, thoughtful chatter of individuals quietly gathering and the buzz of the air-conditioner, coffee machine and refrigerator. My nose experiences a reasonably neutral space; there are no overwhelming scents in the air if anything I detect a light aroma of wood (most furniture is vintage and wooden), perhaps a hint of coffee, tea and fresh pastries (today there are vegan donuts). My body is at ease; I feel the hairs on my arm stand up, not from cold but from a warm, magnetic sort of energy, my feet on the wooden panels ground me. The blue-grey plastic lawn chair I’m sitting in makes me feel like I’m relaxing in an overgrown garden. The well-loved, low to the ground table which I’m working from reminds me of my childhood, I feel as if I might be coloring, or working on an art project.
Free write 1:
I approach Bluestockings, there is a homeless man sitting on the big blue bench outside, his socks and shoes are off, his white sport socks lay on the concrete pavement. His shoes are dark blue, they look like vans or plimsolls, well loved ones. He has a glazed donut in his hand, he hasn’t taken a bite out of it yet. I look up at the various signs on the windows, there are some white graffiti scrawlings, it looks as if someone has tried to scrub the lettering off without success. They are illegible to me. I wonder who this person is, perhaps someone who rejects the notion of this safe space, perhaps someone who wishes they were part of it. The furthest window to the left has a paper sign that reads “Black Lives Matter,” the “L” in Black has fallen, leaving a shadow of an “L” from the glue that once supported it.
Free write 2:
The space is well integrated, it reinforces its values across all corners. I’m struck first by the front door, aside from being glass (creating metaphors of transparency, openness and inclusivity), it welcomes us with warm but honest messaging (in blue, all caps), “WE ARE A SAFER SPACE.” Not, “WE ARE A SAFE SPACE,” a “SAFER” space; this strikes me. I appreciate the honesty, the notion, “we might not be the safest space yet, we are offering what we can, perhaps more than what you might be used to.” I appreciate the aspiration too, the acknowledgment that every space can grow and be better. I think to myself; this is a warm welcome. As you enter, there is a cozy nook, a wall filled with paper hearts, these hearts support the Bluestockings Volunteers notice board, sharing stories, ideas, experiences. I am reminded of bunting Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom.”
Free write 3:
Above the coffee, tea, ginger beer and baked goods chalkboard, (filled with sketches of pink donuts and piping hot coffee), sits a black paper cat cut out with green eyes, yellow glasses and a pink heart-shaped nose. A very intellectual cat. There are posters, badges, books, zines and flyers hanging from the counter. Actually, there are “ZINES!!!” Hate, Incarceration, Love on Top, New Jewish Youth, Defend Our Hoodz, Evict The Landlords, Displace The Developers, these are some of the titles presenting themselves to me. There are coloring books for kids too, in the mix I discover the “Cunt Coloring Book,” I think this might be in the wrong place. Perhaps not.
Founded in England in 1972, Spare Rib was established collectively by Rosie Boycott, Marsha Roe, and their extensive women's networks. The name "Spare Rib," coined by Boycott & Roe, stemmed from a reference to Adam & Eve, alluding to “women's lack of independence since the beginning of time.” The leftist, second wave publication immediately gained traction for its radical leanings, counter-culture resurgence, and anti-consumeristic stance. Initially banned by various distributors for its risqué and outspoken content, the magazine quickly prevailed, circulating upwards of 20,000 issues successfully per month throughout various women's organizations and outlets. Designed to “investigate and present other alternatives to the traditional gender roles for women of virgin, wife, or mother,” Spare Rib challenged the subjugation and exploitation of women while providing resources and “realistic solutions to the hurdles women faced.” In 1973, Spare Rib evolved into a collective, community-run magazine in which multiple editors, “included contributors from well know international feminist writers, activists, and theorists as well as the stories of ordinary women in their own words.” In addition to being a proletariat beacon for women's liberation the journal became known for its outlandish and iconic covers, “it had to look like a women’s magazine yet with contents that did not reflect the conformist stereotyping of women.”
As cultural template: Spare Rib’s underpinnings and mission were reflected not only in their content but in all aspects of their layout, framework, representation, and dissemination. The infrastructures and institutions surrounding them did not support their operation, so they created a self-sustaining entity which expanded, provided a legacy and acted as a framework for other initiatives and organizations.
Pussy Riot, a Russian feminist organization, know for its guerrilla punk rock protests was established in Moscow in 2011 to rebut Vladimir Putin and his connections to the Russian Orthodox Church. Three of its members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich rose to international fame after holding a protest performance inside the Cathedral of Christ the Savoir in Moscow, which was deemed blasphemous by the Orthodox ecclesiastics and resulted in their mass arrest with the charge of hooliganism. Each sentenced to two years imprisonment, the trials garnered foreign criticism and coverage, particularly by human right organizations such as amnesty international who deemed the arrest POC, or “prisoners of conscience;” a term referring to unjust imprisonment based on “race, sexual orientation, religious or political views.” After their respective releases Tolokonnikova, Alyokhina, Samutsevich continued to participate in riots most notably during the winter Olympics in Sochi, and across conferences in Western Europe (pre-Trump’s victory), in which they released “Making American Great Again,” a dystopian ode, predicting the horrors of Trump’s impending administration. In late 2016 Pussy Riot expanded, engaging in various political art, merchandise and independent news collaborations with creative communities Kultrab and 9cyka and MediaZona. Focused on the criminal justice in Russia, the collective store “allowed for clothing to become an act of self-expression in a country that allows no freedom of speech; its a way of showing that we disagree.”
As cultural template: Pussy Riot created a resurgence for the voiceless in constructing a platform first with punk rock guerrilla protests, then with the intermixing of political art, merchandise and media outlets to reinforce the importance of community to combat dictatorial landscapes.
Thank you to Picture Alliance DPA, no copyright infringement is intended.
Thank you to MORRY GASH/AP, no copyright infringement is intended.
Daily Feminist is a technological design response to the system of Commodified / Marketplace Feminism. The notion of Commodified or Marketplace Feminism operates by detaching and diluting the political and social origins of Feminism theory and methodology while appropriating and remixing its elements for commercial gain. Daily Feminist was constructed as an Instagram account @daily___feminst, peacocking as legitimate feminist merchandise outlet providing “Everyday products for the die-hard feminist.” As a provocative and outlandish commentary on feminist merchandise Daily Feminist seeks to investigate (and provoke inquiry) into the meaning behind feminist merchandise and what truly constitutes it, in addition to raising notions surrounding intersectionality and access. 30+ fictitious products have been “made,” and uploaded to Instagram, advertised as being available (all for the same price of $14.99), same day delivery. As the product selection grows, so does the obscurity of the products, items like “Badass Babe Bread Clips,” and “Feminist Fishing Kits,” propagate the platform along mythical side games and bizarre hashtag pitched to potential buyers to “sell, ”the item. The first game, “Shot Caller Cooler,” is posted in the description in support of selling a white beer cooler, the rules of the game are as follows:
Demand that all men ask your permission before approaching a cooler or grabbing a brewski.
Demand that all men refer to you as “Shot Caller Kween,” before requesting a cold beverage.
Realize that you reserve the right at any moment to shoot down a beverage request by any man stating whatever you wish (or not). Our most popular retorts are “Fuck no fuckboi,” “Not on your misogynistic life,” and “Smile.”
#feministcooler #coolercompanion #feministdrinkinggames #livingmybestlife # feministaf #shotcaller #shotcallerkween #tailgatekween #tailgatefeminist #dailyfeminst #df
Public figure and singer @jonathonmcclen with his $31.4k following commented, “sooo me.” In addition to growing the product line, Daily Feminist actively engages with its followers and greater merchandise feminist community to continue the dialogue. As an integral research component, although exposed as a very preliminary draft, a Marketplace Feminist manifesto was created with the hopes of acting as a reference for both consumers and businesses when considering the engagement with or production of “Feminist Merchandise.”
An example of the dilution of grassroots feminist products to marketplace feminist items: ”The Future Is Female,” original slogan and T-Shirt design (now a widely distributed iconic “feminist” item) was developed in 1972 by Jane Laurie and Marizel Rios for “Labyris Books,” the first women’s bookstore in the city. The trademark was adopted and appropriated first by “Otherwild,” an independent studio supporting aspiring artists, designers, and minorities, (Otherwild both asked Labyris for permission regarding usage and continues to credit the brand across all of their platforms). Soon after “Missguided” (a highly commercial online platform similar to Walmart / Target) swiped the phrase and developed a T-Shirt and swimsuit line; “Missguided,” does not support minorities, credit artists or support fair labor practices.
Typequality is a student project by graphic designer Kimberly Ihres from Beckmans College of Design. Her thesis revolved around the representation of women in the world of typography; as a design response she created the Typequality, index, platform, and font to encourage and engage in the “discovering and sharing of typefaces designed by women.” The platform is broken up into “Share,” and “Find,” categories in which one can either submit fonts that aren't currently represented in the index or to discover a library of fonts designed exclusively by women. Ihres has created a categorical search and sharing capabilities to index the fonts into various subcategories, “Decorative Fonts, Symbols, Script Font, Headline Font, Graphic Font, Text Font, Display Font, & Other Fonts.” With a clear mission and concise set of uploading instructions, Kimberly’s “Share a Typeface,” concept supports a non-linear, collaborative, fragmented approach to building a resource and network to support women while deconstruction the canonization of design, “typequality wants to make space for a more open, equal, typographic room.”
As cultural template: Ihres has formulated a typographic resource and indexing system which collaboratively and iteratively builds a library based on user participation. Her structure not only organizes, it also creates a larger dialogue surrounding access and representation in the context of female graphic designers and typographers.
Mansplaining is a two-person card game designed with the intention of deconstructing, coding and reformatting the language of mansplaining so it can be easily identified. Mansplaining is defined as “of a man explaining something to someone, typically a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing.” Constructed by remixing elements from Kim Goodwins, “Mansplaining Chart,” (released by the BBC) the card game allows players to build dialogues funneling into to a total of four outcomes: “Not Mansplaining,” “Probably Mansplaining,” “Definitely Mansplaining” and “Just Stop Talking Now.” Each time a player can assemble a convincing hand (and storyline) that reveals one of the four outcomes, the participant gains a point. Two wild cards are interspersed amongst the game, the first, “English Rose,” (a combined six track of Fleetwood Mac’s Mr. Wonderful) featuring their 1969 drag album cover which signals to draw again, and a photograph of a woman’s feet in the restroom (indicating a rethink), communicates the drawing of two extra cards from the deck. Overlaid on a set of vintage floral cards (to represent and challenge notions of the homemaker), the coding structure, composed from a DYMO label maker and black embosser tape (demanding thoughtfulness in considering each letter), is juxtaposed with a series of 52 female lips rescued from various magazines as an assemblage ode to speech.