Feminist Parasite Institution
Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane
NO MORE FUN AND GAMES – a Feminist Parasite Institution – was a project for Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, exploring how a feminist collective might redress or renegotiate gaps and omissions in the history of women’s art and the canon. Taking the form of a parasitic institution within the institution of the High Lane, NO MORE FUN AND GAMES was activated each day through performance and mediation. It consisted of a series of performative tours, discussions, lectures, events and publication, all produced within the curated and staged environment of the three exhibition galleries.
It was motivated by the idea that a feminist curatorial practice could be experimental, collaborative, multi-authored and counter to the value judgements that have historically been used to marginalize feminist and other art practices. Jesse Jones invited a number of women to form a collaborative curatorial collective, and to curate an exhibition of works by female artists selected from the Hugh Lane collection. They were exhibited together for the first time and many were restored for the project. Working towards an idea of expanded cinema, Jones installed a reflective, celluloid-like wallpaper to the gallery in which the historical artworks were hung and placed.
A new cinematic score was composed in collaboration with Gerald Busby, whose work on Robert Altman’s 1970′s film, 3 Women had been influential on Jones’ research. This score was presented on a number of speakers throughout the galleries, each white and standing individually in space, much like a figure, sculpture or totem. The composition, titled pneuma, was performed entirely by flute, inspired by the artworks selected by the curatorial collective from the Hugh Lane’s collection. The connecting and coordinating materials of image, sound, motion and sequence are reworked in Jones’ attempt to make cinema without projection, never more apparent than in the large-scale, printed curtain that snaked its way from one gallery to another. This artwork was conceived as a moving gesture, and was pulled by white-gloved attendants who greeted visitors upon entrance to the parasite institution, and traced their path through the gallery as it raced along the tracks, interrupting, concealing and revealing elements of the installation as it came to rest or departed once more. Printed on this fabric was an enormous image of a hand of power – curled in a beckoning, yet also threatening manner. With finger nails sharpened into claw-like form, the female wisdom and knowledge that has found fantastical vents in the realm of witches’ tales and caricature is bought back into the work with a power born of its sincerity: the hand that traverses these rooms of the Museum is the hand of the artist’s Mother.
Thinking of the parasite as abject body which, through inhabiting its host, might corrupt and eventually demand resources that might destroy the host itself, NO MORE FUN AND GAMES aims to frame feminist artistic practice as a radical counter history that has the power to destabilise the museum and the project of art history, itself. The title, NO MORE FUN AND GAMES, references a 1969 publication by the American militant separatist feminist organization CELL 16, which proposed a performative, political and sensual aesthetic of a world without men. NO MORE FUN AND GAMES echoed this strategy of separatism through its curatorial and ‘film-making’ approach – attempting to redress or renegotiate omissions in the historical canon of art.