Making oneself at home: a dialogue on women, culture, belonging and denizenship
The following text is derived from a presentation given as a dialogue to the annual conference of the Association of Art Historians in London 2014, where our presentation was used to open the session. Our decision to perform an interactive, scripted dialogue against a background of images, was an intentional attempt to explore ‘art history’ in ways that do not conform to the accepted academic conference conventions of a formal paper, subsequently revised, extended and embellished with references and footnotes to locate the writing as serious ‘research’ designed for possible publication. Research is generated not only by planned research processes but by informal interactions such as conversation and correspondence. In these processes dialogue is generative: ideas are sketched out, emerge spontaneously in response to questions, or are snatched from insights stimulated by unexpected collisions of spoken or written words.1 Art history offers many examples of fruitful correspondence between thinkers and practitioners. E.H. Gombrich and Quentin Bell explored canons and values in 1979; John Berger corresponded with Leon Kossoff (1996) and with James Elkins (2003-4) about drawing.2 As academics engaged in teaching and research, we talk about our shared interests in feminist histories and theories and our experiences as women now based in Britain, but who lived lives elsewhere - in the United States (Marsha) and southern Africa (Marion). For us the personal has been political; there are commonalities and differences in our experiences of ‘home’ and re-location. In doing light editing (added footnotes) of our performed dialogue for publication, we maintained the dialogic framework to indicate that the two voices speak from their particular perspectives while also finding a shared space.
- The Arts, English and Drama