CODE OF PRACTICE
This Code of Practice is one of the outputs of a seminar held in spring as part of the tranzit.cz 2017 programme. The seminar examined the possible forms of organisations and collectives that wish to be seen as feminist.
A feminist art institution regards feminist thinking to be an important resource, an inspiration, and one of the underlying bases of its programme and operations. Such an institution is inspired by the history of feminist organisation and by feminist reflections upon power, work, relationships, and forms of oppression.
1. A feminist art institution is (self)-critical. It subjects its structure and programme to review in order to reflect changing social conditions. It recognises that it cannot be separated from the social context, and selects its methods of social engagement accordingly. A feminist art institution seeks to develop new types of institutional environment. It redefines what it means to be a public institution and embraces groups that are otherwise marginalised or discriminated against within the concept of public. It deems art (hence culture) to be a universally shared asset (the commons), to which everyone has an inalienable right.
Feminist art institutions are steadfastly opposed to all manifestations of intolerance, e.g. racism, homophobia or sexism. They formulate strategies for dealing with such situations should they arise.
Feminist art institutions champion the viewpoint of the oppressed, and this is reflected in their programme, their relationship with the public, and their own internal organisation.
2. The ethics of its own internal operations are as important to a feminist art institution as the programme by which it presents itself to the public. On the one hand, it works towards the objectives it wishes to see enshrined in society, and on the other ensures that those who work for it are happy and feel that their opinion counts. An organisational structure must be created that is capable of developing a meaningful programme while taking into account the needs of those who are part of it.
A feminist art institution is based on the mutual respect of those who work in it. The quality of their relationships, irrespective of what position they occupy, is considered to be of equal importance as the quality of the programme.
The operations of a feminist art institution are the outcome of collective discussion and decision-making, and not a ‘one wo/man show’. The distribution of power is clearly articulated. It is subject to debate on the part of all interested parties and can be changed.
3. A feminist art institution is based on a feminist understanding of work. It is inspired by the importance feminist theory attributes to care (for children, the elderly, sick and handicapped) and other activities that cannot be monetised but are crucial for the wellbeing of society. One of the aims of a feminist art institution is to raise the profile of activities that are essential to the existence of any organisation yet are taken for granted and financially unremunerated. Different types of care (and art can be deemed a type of care) are of crucial concern to a feminist art institution.
A feminist art institution is receptive to caregivers and adapts its programme so that they are able to participate.
Example: It is barrier-free, offers childminding services and the appropriate space, organises its events at times that suit parents with children, and ensures its events are accessible to people with physical or mental health issues.
A feminist art institution is receptive to those of its workers who have responsibilities as carers. It makes every attempt to create a working environment that includes space for care activities.
Example: Employees have the opportunity to work from home. It offers childminding services during working hours. It factors in the presence of small children on its premises.
The work of production managers, accountants and all those who contribute to the upkeep and maintenance of the institution is recognised and respected.
Example: A feminist art institution’s programme lists all those involved. There is no difference between the fee paid production managers and curators.
A feminist art institution pays a fee to everyone who participates directly in its running or programme. (An exception to this rule involves institutions operating on a DIY basis where nobody is paid.) Gender has no influence on the level of the fee whatsoever.
4. A feminist art institution takes it as an article of faith that contemporary society is patriarchal, as is the contemporary art world. The aim of the institution is to participate in the struggle to change this situation. A feminist art institution therefore promotes quotas as a temporary solution to gender imbalance and discrimination.
A feminist art institution promotes a 50% minimum representation of women in its annual programme, whether this involve exhibitions, festivals, conferences or panel discussions.
At least 50% of all managerial, creative and other positions of responsibility are occupied by women in a feminist (art) institution.
A feminist art institution refuses to abide by the unwritten criteria of the culture industry as we know it today. The art world is based on a system of competition, in which only those who demonstrate the requisite endurance, ambition, strength, assertiveness succeed. A feminist art institution advocates other values and virtues. It takes into account human weakness, frailty and fatigue, and prioritises human relationships over ‘performance’. It sets itself different rules within the framework of its possibilities.
We would like to offer our warmest thanks to Ewa Majewska, Xabier Arakistain, Giovanna Zapperi and Luba Kobová for their inspiration.