Charlotte Troy

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 The Moon 

The Moon was a feminist free ‘newspaper’ ironically named in response to the
best-selling tabloid in the UK, whilst also referencing the feminist fascination
with the moon as symbolic of feminine energy. Published to coincide with the
Once More with Feeling event curated by performance artist Oriana Fox, held
at Tate Modern on 27 June 2009.

The Moon is a parallel artwork that both documents this event and extends
its themes. Included in The Moon are: a selective timeline of the history of
feminist performance art, essays debating the significance of feminism in the
contemporary context, the research that led to the event’s realisation and as
well as a programme of the live acts to be performed at the Tate.

The Moon is also a performance tool — women can open its tabloid-size pages on
buses and tubes or any public place where they see a man reading The Sun with
page 3 visible. Page 3 of The Moon will have a large and playfully knowing picture
of a nude man. In this way, the reading of this paper throughout the UK will act as
an unplanned, spontaneous performance where women armed with their copies
of The Moon will silently battle with The Sun. There will also be reproductions of
a series of paintings made by Katie Horwich wherein she painted her daily outfits
on top of The Sun’s page 3 girls.

The Moon features four main essays:
Catherine Grant’s essay on ‘fans of feminism’;
Judith Batalion critical and humorous exposé on ‘fighting feminists’;
An art historical examination of early performance work from Judy
Chicago’s Feminist Art Program by Meredith Brown;
Marianne Mulvey’s text about the use of sincerity and cliché in
contemporary performance

Also included are:
A timeline of feminist performance art;
Maureen Paley on the significance of the moon to women and feminism;
Information about performances that rework feminist classics such as
Carolee Schneemann’s Interior Scroll (1975), Martha Rosler’s Vital
Statistics (1977) and Betsy Damon’s 7000 Year Old Woman (1974)

  — Charlotte Troy

The Moon has been published to coincide with the Once More with Feeling event
hosted by the Tate Modern on 27 June 2009 where Oriana Fox and co. will play
out an abbreviated history of feminist performance art. The paper was born out
of Oriana and I talking about her research into this subject and the opportunities
a printed publication might offer in extending her themes and marking this event
for her and the other artists.

A little while ago I read an article in Vogue written by a man discussing how
contemporary women hate each other. The text bothered me and to my surprise,
shortly after I found myself reading about this idea of hatred between women
again in Meredith Brown’s essay, now printed in these pages. Here she introduces
us to Judy Chicago’s all-women art course in the ’70s and a performance piece the
group played out called Rivalry Play (1971). In the skit, two women of a similar
age and social standing confront each other, are overtaken by the experience of
rivalry and end up killing each other. She goes on to reference Juliet Mitchell’s
psychoanalytic theories in relation to peers and the oscillation between ‘an
extension of [our] narcissistic love for a friend and [our] violence toward the
person who has displaced [us]’.

Thinking about identification, displacement and rivalry my mind went to the
images of women I am used to seeing in the glossies. Largely driven by
marketing, theirs is an objectified, aspirational image of beauty: beauty that
our subjective self sees as we wish and project our life into. This reminded
me of John Berger’s seminal book Ways of Seeing in which he writes of the
publicity image that ‘steals [a woman’s] love of herself as she is, and offers
it back to her for the price of a product’. Advertising imagery is a potential
threat to one’s sense of self no doubt, but it is also somehow a private,
indulgent, capitalist fantasy: this is a fiction I had become comfortable with.

Vogue’s recent features however, where they interview the gorgeous and
successful — who would normally be behind the scenes or at least voiceless —
go further. In inviting us into a dialogue, the images and text silently nag us
about that which we may have imagined for ourselves. Vogue takes our
fantasies and throws back hard facts. So when I am confronted with an
attractive and moneyed female contemporary living in NY with her super-
star photographer husband, two freckled kids and a wardrobe full of luxury
items, what’s not to hate? But I don’t hate her; what I hate is the displacement
I feel for myself and that’s largely due to a society driven by opportunities.
Opportunities we fought for.

The paradox of feminism today lies between the joy we feel in the knowledge
that we can “have it all” and the need to acknowledge that fear and anxiety
come hand in hand with expectation and opportunity. At a certain age women
feel that babies, love and the realisation of our dreams should all align because
this is what we deserve and were promised. As ambitious women in this society
I think we are often just one click away from falling over into the wrong side
of ambition: a condition named “Status Hysteria” by Alain de Botton in his
book Status Anxiety. Botton arrives at this idea through a discussion of
Aristotle’s Eudemian Ethics which offers examples of how human behaviour
can subvert a philosophical ideal if left unexamined, just as liberality can
succumb to profligacy.

So here we are forever questioning our situations and ourselves, and our
imaginations run away with us, just as each of the artists’ and contributors’
imaginations have been free to explore issues such as these in preparing for
the event or writing for the publication. So, am I a fan of feminism? Well,
I can’t say I’d thought of it in such terms until now, but what’s there not to
rate? Oriana and I had a brilliant time making this paper, and each of the
contributors has given me a lot to think about. Women are pretty damn
cool and Linder’s strident woman on the cover says it all; we are all our
expectations at every turn, our fantasies both please and agitate us and
inherent in those lines is strength and history.