Latin American Speakers Series 2023: Claudia Calirman

"Feminist or Feminine?"

While Brazilian women artists in the 1960s and 1970s were hailed as key figures in the country’s art scene, and enjoyed a unique position in terms of visibility and prominence, they still faced adversity and constraints because of their gender. Although many of them repudiated the term feminism, they still employed feminist strategies. They addressed women’s emancipation in their work. This rejection was influenced by a complexity of issues: the view of the military dictatorship as the only enemy; the country's patriarchal structure; the sexist attitudes of cultural agents; the disdain from the Left and the Right for the feminist cause. Furthermore, the feminist movement was considered an enterprise orchestrated by the United States, and rejecting this movement was considered an anti-imperialist gesture. This talk will give a nuanced account of the adversities and contradictions faced by these artists, even if they admittedly didn’t feel discriminated against because of their gender.

Claudia Calirman is the Chair and Associate Professor of Art History at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Chair of the Department of Art and Music. She is the author of Dissident Practices: Brazilian Women Artists, 1960s-2020s (Duke University Press, 2023). The book gives a nuanced account of how these artists responded to authoritarianism, engaged with trauma in the aftermath of the military dictatorship, fought against gender inequality, and advocated for LGBTQ+ rights. Her first book Brazilian Art under Dictatorship: Antonio Manuel, Artur Barrio, and Cildo Meireles (Duke University Press, 2012), analyzes the intersection of politics and the visual arts during the most repressive years of Brazil's military regime, from 1968 until 1975. It received the Arvey Award by the Association for Latin American Art. Calirman is a recipient of the Arts Writers Grant from Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation and was a Visiting Scholar at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University. Calirman has curated several exhibitions, including Dissident Practices (The Anya and Andrew Shiva Gallery, New York); Berna Reale: Right Now (Nara Roesler Gallery, São Paulo); Basta! Art and Violence in Latin America (The Anya and Andrew Shiva Gallery, New York); and Antonio Manuel: I Want to Act, not Represent! (Americas Society, New York).

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