Thursday, January 25, 2007


Last Saturday was visitors’ day at “My place.” I arrived at Lusk Alley several minutes past the appointed 12 p.m. and parked in a No Parking Anytime space outside TART in front of a truck loading up dozens of white orchid spray arrangements for a party (TART’s neighbor is an event planner).

The flowers were reassuring, as I had no idea what to expect on the other side of TART’s heavy sliding door. I’d been booked for fifteen-minute sessions of “tea and conversation” with people who wanted to talk with me -- but why?

Anne Colvin greeted me and young people, five women and one man, were hanging out in the galley kitchen around a circular dining table strewn with documents: Moyra Davey’s portfolio of evocative photographs of her bookshelves, copies of her books, and a few of my publications.

The high white walls of the space were completely bare. Anne had set up a sitting area, a little island moored in white space, with a custard-colored couch, red chair, a table, and a couple of lamps. I began with Shalo, an MFA student at the San Francisco Art Institute and a native of Colombia. In our intense if oblique exchange he mainly wanted to know whether I thought artists should be able to appropriate the work of other artists off the Internet etc. We discussed issues of copyright, intellectual property, open source, artistic freedom of expression, etc. Once assured that I’m the side of the artist he seemed satisfied.

My other clients were three delightful young women. There would have been a fourth, Jessica Silverman, but she was called back to her art gallery (Silverman, on Third Street in San Francisco) just as we began to chat. Too bad; she seemed interesting. Chris Thorson is a painter, a recent MFA graduate of the San Francisco Art institute who now works as a career consultant for students at California College of the Arts (CCA). Tricia Avant is an MFA student in photography and video at CCA. Jessica Brier is enrolled in CCA‘s curatorial program; as an intern at TART she set up and manages this blog. My conversations with them were exhilarating and inspiring. While their individual practices are different, they share a fierce desire and urgent need to revisit earlier discussions and expressions of feminism, and to reframe those in light of their lives and work: to define a female space for action and expression globally in the menacing world we inhabit now.

As I’m currently pursuing two projects (at least) that reconsider the feminist enterprise in contemporary visual art (particularly among women artists who use experimental media), their interest was profoundly gratifying to me personally. It was also a huge surprise, as I’d become inured to younger women’s dismissal of feminism as no longer applicable to their concerns. Anne Colvin and I talked about this on the phone today and agreed that the tide seems to have turned. It looks as though we’ll have plenty of young, smart, talented allies in the pursuit, who will lead the next wave.

Thank you, Tricia, for turning me on to Bracha Ettinger and her concept of The Matrixial Borderspace.

And thank you, Anne Colvin, for creating a borderspace, matrixial or not, where such conversations can happen, and I hope, continue. (My spell check wants to change “matrixial” to “matricidal”! It’s done it twice now! While no stranger to matricidal impulses, I’ve just added matrixial to its vocabulary.)

P.S. Thank you also to my friends Camille Utterback, Drew, Clive McCarthy and Brendan Lott for visiting “my place“ on Saturday. I’m sorry the only “art” to look at was me talking to artists! It was lovely to see you there. - Marcia Tanner

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