“We Communicate only with Women”: Italian Feminism, Women Artists and the Politics of Separatism

Giovanna Zapperi


One of the most salient features of the 1970s Italian feminist movement is its radical critique of equality and the ensuing separatism that characterizes most of the groups that emerged at the beginning of the decade. Women’s collectives spread throughout the country in the wake of 1968, when it became clear that the various political organizations involved in the protests were unwilling to challenge traditional gender hierarchies and relations. Italian feminism is structurally bound to this radical attempt to claim its autonomy from the male dominated (and mostly Marxist oriented) organizations, in a time of unprecedented political unrest. Notwithstanding the significance of separatism for Italian feminism, few attempts have been made to look at its impact on women’s art. In this article, I will consider the works produced around 1975 by Carla Accardi, Suzanne Santoro and Marcella Campagnano in relation to their participation in women’s groups such as Rivolta Femminile in Rome and Collettivo di via Cherubini in Milan. The works I am interested in originated from within the experiences of the feminist movement and provide a unique opportunity to look at how a new set of creative practices could grow as part of a collective political project. For these artists, the women’s movement allowed for anunderstanding of the political implications of their exclusion from the art world, and for an active search for separate spaces to conduct their creative practices. However, separatism was not an easy choice, and for some of them it could also translate into a set of ambivalent strategies with respect to the mainstream art world. While based on different formats and media (installation, photography, artist book), these works substantiate the importance of the collective that was central to feminist politics. More specifically, they make direct or indirect reference to the practice of autocoscienza




; Italian Art History; History of Feminism, Feminist Theory

Full Text:


Powered by Vitamino