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The Pavilion Women’s Photography Center 1983–1993: Deciphering an ‘incomplete’ [feminist] project

Park, Gillian (2018) The Pavilion Women’s Photography Center 1983–1993: Deciphering an ‘incomplete’ [feminist] project. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

This thesis is the first historical study of The Pavilion Women’s Photography Center, which was founded in Leeds in 1983. It is a contribution to the institutional and curatorial history of feminist cultural practices in Britain. It addresses the work of artists Brenda Agard, Yve Lomax, Ingrid Pollard, Jo Spence, Maud Sulter and Marie Yates, making sense of them in the context of their exhibition at The Pavilion during the 1980s. In order to understand the significance of The Pavilion, I have deployed the Grounded Theory Method [GTM] in the analysis of an oral archive created in 2014, which includes statements of ten participants involved in The Pavilion from 1983–1993. From these statements I derived from the GTM method of coding a concept—‘Feministing Photography’. This concept captures the priorities, investments, and effects of The Pavilion project. It also enables me to situate The Pavilion in relation to the larger question of the way in which photography became a site of critical inquiry during the 1980s for feminist artists concerned with complex questions of sexual difference and the entanglements of gender, class and race. In enlarging upon the concept, ‘Feministing Photography’, as it can be read in the context of The Pavilion’s aims, I also contribute to the historical study of: key shifts in arts policy in Britain; the significance of artist-led spaces; the politics/aesthetics relation; the practices and politics of representation; the emergence of feminist debates and practices; and the history of feminist exhibitions and events. Furthermore, by focusing on The Pavilion, I also make Leeds visible as one of the spaces in which these key issues converged in the early 1980s. The thesis is also significant for its reflections on issues of encountering the past and the archive. It identifies a methodology through which to locate, within the ‘mute’ archive, traces of The Pavilion’s aesthetic and political significance in terms of its ambition, practices and place in a larger picture of cultural politics in the 1980s. Finally I argue that The Pavilion should be understood as an ‘incomplete’ project. In doing so, I aim, through the thesis, to make visible what can be learnt by ‘looking back’ at feminist strategies in the 1980s for thinking the challenges facing feminist cultural practices in the present.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Feminism, Photography, Archives, Visual Art, Grounded Theory Method, Politics, Aesthetics
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > Fine Art, History of Art & Cultural Studies (Leeds)
Depositing User: Dr Gillian Park
Date Deposited: 04 Dec 2018 15:56
Last Modified: 04 Dec 2018 15:56
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/22160

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