Exiled and Female: Visualising identity in the work of women artists

Carmen Gaitán Salinas, University of Pennsylvania/New York University, carmengs@sas.upenn.edu / cgs393@nyu.edu

Mari Paz Balibrea, Birkbeck, University of London, m.balibrea@bbk.ac.uk

In the contemporary world, a great number of people have had to flee their homelands, heading to other countries, for political reasons. Dissidences caused by wars and authoritarian governments have jeopardised people’s lives, requiring them to find new homes in exile. Almost every sector of society that has confronted the ruling powers has been exposed to this situation. While both male and female artists have fled, the experience of women has traditionally been ignored by historiography, and art histories have not been an exception. Women too have had to live in exile as a consequence of the World Wars, the Spanish Civil War, Latin American coups d’état or the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China. Their identities have been transformed through the experience of exile, sometimes to reinforce, other times to problematise their previous assumptions about their national identity.

For many years, how these transformations have been represented in their artistic works has barely been studied. Cultural, Gender, and Exile and Diaspora studies have in recent years played a central role in helping us to recover those lives and value the artistic work those women produced. Following on the footsteps of these approaches, this panel aims to bring together an interdisciplinary group of speakers to examine the concept of identity as represented in the visual artistic work of exiled women. Papers focusing on the contemporary period and on any part of the world will be welcome. Topics might include, but are not limited to, political commitment, affect, the public and private spheres, women collectives, authorship, sexuality and trauma.

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