Much of my work up until this point had examined the varied urban experiences available to women from the point of view of the pleasures and freedoms offered by the city in order to counter the prevailing reading of the city as exclusively a place of victimization and oppression for women. These installations, in posing questions about the relationship between safety and danger, opportunity and risk, also sought to overturn the logic of certain binary structures, in particular those which equate publicity and the social spaces of the city with the masculine, and privacy or domesticity with that of the feminine. These projects many of which took the form of “public art” interventions attempted to provide viewers with a renewed perspective on the complex realities of women’s lived experiences. This project shifts its gaze back to the domesticated sphere of the home. Domicile was inspired by Dan Graham’s 1965 project Homes for America.
Description: Twelve digital C-prints mounted behind plexi, 36 x 48 inches each.
“An important current within contemporary feminist discourse is concerned with interrogating the binarism that constructs domesticity as a private feminine space and the city as a public masculine one. That interrogation acknowledges that while the public world refuses complete and safe access to women, the home cannot as a result be assumed a ‘safe zone’ where women are enabled as fully mobile subjects. The work of Susan Schuppli problematizes essentialist gender oppositions that lead to such reductivism; initially this was demonstrated through works that advanced the city as a site of both pleasure and danger for women. A project entitled Nightwalker presented an independent female protagonist—one who took to the streets—the virtual flaneuse whose movements ranged between self-abandonment and retreat. In that project Schuppli posited an important paradigm shift that allowed a re-embodied feminine subject to emerge within a public space, and affirmed Elizabeth Grosz’s assertion that “there is nothing intrinsically alienating or unnatural about the city”.—Patrick Mahon