Seminar III - Joohee Kim
The third seminar of the DOOSAN Curator Workshop was conducted as a lecture on the subject ‘Understanding the Epistemology of Feminism’ by Joohee Kim, the Humanities Korea Research Professor at Critical Global Studies Institute at Sogang University, Seoul. As demonstrated in the title, feminism is one of many ‘cognitive frameworks’ through which to view the world, rather than an ingrained stance of women. Feminism, which emerged with the rise of the New Left Movement in the 1960s, viewed the scientific knowledge as a matter of power rather than of rationality, and confronted, through practice, gender inequality produced endlessly by the globally dominant discourses of androcentrism, patriarchy and capitalism. In other words, feminism not a battle for gender equality, but a fight of the marginal against generalization.
A notable example of the several examples referenced in the seminar was the Charlie Chaplin’s film Modern Family. Behind the men in the film who perform repetitive tasks like a machine in order to keep a factory running are women, the unpaid laborers who pack lunches, do laundry, and raise children in order for the men to get to work on time. The only woman who appears in the film also serves her supporting role faithfully as a secretary for her male boss to work with ease. As such, the role of men and women is not something that is given at birth; rather, one ‘becomes’ a man or a woman by the dominant discourse and environment of the given period.
Therefore, feminism must endlessly and meticulously question the patriarchal capitalism today. The abovementioned idea that feminism must confront the world ‘in practice’ signifies that it must raise questions according to the specific context and circumstances. It seeks to capture what is not verbalized and exposed in the dominant discourse, as well as activities that ultimately produce discord. These activities coincide with minority group activities such as movements of homosexuals, disabled, and those who reject military service.
Feminism as an activity to voice out to the world is infinite in its points of discourse in the art world. However, there is a lack of such discourse in Korea due to the concerns that a work could be confined to merely feminist interpretations the moment the artist or curator is introduced as a feminist. Hopefully, feminist art can expand and invigorate the art base, rather than simply being evaluated as a dichotomous way of thinking.