Housework, Gender and Subjectivity: Cultures of Domesticity


Housework, Gender and Subjectivity: Cultures of Domesticity


Exhibit Dates

October 29 - November 16, 2012


Housework, Gender and Subjectivity: Cultures of Domesticity is an exhibition inspired by the work of early feminist artists and is curated by independent scholar/artist/curator, Molly Hankwitz. It focuses upon domestic space as a site for the investigation of multiple aspects of gender from the experience of real women.

Opening Reception & Panel: October 29 in the Art History Lecture Hall adjacent to the gallery. Exhibition curator Molly Hankwitz leads a panel discussion on work in the exhibit with housework and domestic space as topic in art, domestic materials and domesticating ideas in women's art practices. The panel is presented with artists Annetta Kapon and Heidi Kumao.


Across many cultures, the role of the wife, the daughter, and duties of domestic labor within the household from cleaning to cooking to childcare and sex are frequently expected from women. In dominant western media, especially commercial advertising, the stereotype of the perfect "housewife," her duties and commitment to products remains a powerful ideology despite progress in feminism to speak alternatives. This stereotype has been the object of significant comment and critique for women artists in the history of art.

Installation, video and new media on view:

Maria Ezcurra's art is both humorous and sharply critical of domestic work, the universalization of housewife imagery vis-a-vis global media, and the oppression of Latin American women. Perfect Housewife's Wardrobe (2008) is a series of large photographs in which the artist enacts scenes from the patriarchal home. In Liminal Beings (2011) partly embodied household technologies are petite collage works made from magazine and mailer images collected by the artist.

Annetta Kapon's art looks at women's labor in the form of a non-traditional installation, Cornucopia (2010) made from baguettes, women's clothing, and a plastic laundry basket, which literally spills forth from the corner of the gallery in an act of nurturance and giving. The work suggests a delicately controlled, even silent, at home and alone, notion of women's labor, which speaks to the private realm of the household.

Heidi Kumao's Cinematic Machines, Holding Pattern (1999) and Kept (1993) are glimpses of cinema and memory. Comprised of zoetropes, projectors, screens, a child's chair, and small coffee table, these pieces explore repetition and scale, use cinematic conventions and ordinary furniture to express the psychoanalytic dimensions of gender.

Annie Abrahams' new media work, Domestic Dancing (2007), designed for the computer screen in html and with sound files, contrasts artistic pleasure with the conventional domesticated subject to suggest a transformation in historic time for women.

A selection of videos, which use household objects, food, household materials, domestic sounds, and elements of cinema to explore gender and domestic space will continuously loop in the gallery space.

Artist Information

Perry Bard - videos
The Kitchen Tapes, 2011, 3:55, color
Secure Dining, 2011, 4:42, color

Evelin Stermitz - video
Hitchcock Dishing, 2008, 1:17, color

Yin Ju Chen- video
Recycle System 1, 2002, 2 min, color

Annetta Kapon - video
Photography Lesson, 1990, 7:00, color

Housework, Gender and Subjectivity: Cultures of Domesticity