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Review: Smyth, C. (1996) Damn Fine Art by New Lesbian Artists. London and New York: Cassell

Authors
Publisher
Circa Art Magazine
Publication Date
Keywords
  • W990 Creative Arts And Design Not Classified Elsewhere
Disciplines
  • Political Science

Abstract

damn fine art review ©
Dr
Catherine
Harper
 
 Review:
Smyth,
C.
(1996)
Damn
Fine
Art
by
New
Lesbian
Artists.
London
and
New
York:
Cassell
 
 
 CIRCA
Art
Magazine,
Vol.88,
Summer
1999
 
 
 In
the
Introduction
to
Damn
Fine
Art,
Cherry
Smyth
skillfully
signposts
the
development
of
her
 project
which
began
as
a
critique
of
‘queer’
art
defined
initially
as
“confrontational,
anti‐ assimilationist,
provocative”,
and
which
evolved
into
a
more
complex
reading
of
what
might
 constitute
‘queer’
art
by
lesbian
artists.
 
 Her
introductory
discussion
maps
her
engagement
with
1970s
lesbian
feminist
work
which
 might
be
termed
‘essentialist’,
through
encounters
with
the
traditions
of
white,
male
fine
art
 practice,
via
the
deconstructivist
debates
of
the
1980s,
and
with
reference
to
‘lesbian
chic’
and
 ‘lesbian
token
visibility’.
Smyth
constructs
a
multiplicitous
lesbian/queer
identity
typified
by
a
 range
of
selected
works
rejecting
fixed
notions
of
a
unified
sexuality
and
drawing
from
a
variety
 of
references,
styles
and
ideas
of
personal
identity
politics.
This
acknowledgement
of
the
unruly
 dimensions
of
‘lesbian
art
practice’
avoids
‘essentialising’
that
very
practice,
and
interestingly
 permits
an
interrogation
of
the
incoherence,
the
internal
dissonance,
and
the
constitutive
 exclusions
of
the
‘genre’.
Confronted
with
work
of
staggering
and
refreshing
diversity,
Smyth
 critically
frames
it
into
sections
for
easier
digestion.
Any
classification
is
problematic,
and
many
 of
the
works
actively
resist
or
traverse
the
boundaries
of
their
assigned
categories.
This
is
more
 indicative
of
the
energy
of
the
works
than
critical
of
their
organisation.
 
 Smyth
discusses
the
problems
associated
with
solely
sexual
definitions
of
lesbian
identity
and
 the
selected
work
is
reflective
of
a
much
greater
range
of
concerns.
Many
of
the
works
are,
 however,
engaged
with
questioning
and
exploring
the
construction,
articulation
and
perception
 of
desire,
and
Smyth’s
pacy
writing
and
stylish
use
of
language
seems
p

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