Doing ethics in public…is scary!

Summary of this past week

I’ll do a quick week in review, focusing on one thing that happened today/Friday, and then look forward to how this week has further informed my thesis research design.

Today/Friday as auxiliary 350/framework building work, I met with very cool Rozalyn Crews, currently the artist in residence at LC’s Hoffman Gallery. She has been doing performance art and participatory installations for many years. I reached out to her because I have been dreaming up how to do an participatory research methods and/or outcome.

I decided to start with describing some of my theory, public sphere and care. Her first reaction was “what do you mean by public?” I responded by referencing my theorists, and discussing how ‘public’ could mean something different than plural ‘counter-publics’…but upon reading this summary on Roz’s page about one of her installations, this caught my eye:

“The problem with Performance Art in written book form, is that it is usually written about from a very lofty theoretical point of view, and is therefore not exactly about what the artist was intending but what the theorist was overlaying/de-constructing, and well, theorizing about. … the predominant potency of the work is that it is live (or, if not potent–which can easily be the case – then at least it is of importance to the conceptual framing). Why else would someone put their body into public space and request attendance, than for the reason of an exchange in live, real time? The live encounter is an immensely significant aspect.”

Kristy Edmunds, via Roz Crews (2018)

Roz allowed me, too, to explain the situated context for research. As I described facilitating conversations, or at least doing many interviews, throughout the state of Oregon on subjects of rural-urban divide/continuum, Roz initially shared concern over ethics via stories of other artists whose work has approached similar topics, with debatable ethics. Acknowledging Roz’s concerns, I carry strength and faith in my work. I have been participating in this conversation and getting to know various actors. I hope to draw on these relationship with groups. I do have a lot of work yet to do asking questions.

Progress on thesis research design

Theory/Framework

One outcome of my conversation with Roz was a re-evaluation of my ethics of care/feminist ethics/ecofeminist ethics framework section. I realize it’s just not doing the work I need it fully to do—and then I remembered the work of black feminist thinkers, who weave powerful theory that lays claim to bodies and breath and space.

That’s the sort of theory that’s missing. White feminist ethics (see a rudimentary summary here) face critique for creating exclusive publics, i.e., denying liberation to non-white, especially black, women. I am inspired to listen to this work.

Photograph standing in fountains at the Louvre Museum. Paris, France. 2014.

One Reply to “Doing ethics in public…is scary!”

  1. Wow, seems like a very interesting conversation that you had with Rez and that she really had a lot of feedback and ideas. I think that it is important to hear concern and critique and not always take it, as you seem to have done with some of the ideas she gave you. The new addition to your framework of more black feminist thinkers seem to be very strong, and I can imagine that they give your work more depth.

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