This seminar challenges the feminist, gay, lesbian and queer historiography of the English-speaking world, its key concepts and its timeframes, comparing them to the micropolitical production of the South and of dictatorial, post-dictatorial and postcolonial contexts, from Latin America to Spain.

Directed by Beatriz Preciado with the participation of Aimar ArriolaAlex BrahimMax Jorge Hinderer CruzR. Marcos MotaAlicia NavarroFernanda NogueiraMiguel A. López, and Marc Siegel.

Judith Butler. Deshacer el género. Identidad, sexualidad, secularismo (1ª parte)

By radicalizing theoretical instruments introduced by Foucault, Derrida, Lacan, Beauvoir and Wittig, Judith Butler was able to, at the end of the 1980s, carry out one of the most incisive philosophical readings of gender and sexual identity to date. The idea that gender is far from being an anatomical or psychological truth appears in her classic Gender Trouble where it is treated as cultural fiction; as a performative effect resulting from the stylized repetition of acts that then become natural and produce the illusion of substance. This inedited definition went on to provoke what we consider today a "performative twist" in feminist study. Its critical power would reach into the far-off domains of post-colonial theory, visual study, and literary analysis.

This issue explores how it might be possible to reposition the singularity of artistic modernity in Spain in relation to the socio-political upheavals of the twentieth century; how to continue to break down the opposition between aesthetics and politics, just as feminist theory contributed to rupturing codes expressed in the form of domination or supremacy; and how feminist critique – which, along with institutional critique, organised the relationships between the patriarchy, capitalism and knowledge production – negotiates with the art institution, which is not very permeable to the epistemological directions and transformations of feminisms.

In November 1999, Juan Vicente Aliaga was invited to give a lecture at MACBA as part of the seminar "Art and action. Between performance and object, 1949-1979" under the title "Sexualities and politics in contemporary performance". Published previously in the Valencian magazine DebatsQuaderns Portàtils has recovered the text in a revised and updated version, under the title "Battlefield. The impact of sexuality and the mark of AIDS on some artistic performance practices".

The eighties are often seen as the end of the revolutionary period that had rocked the Western world since May 1968: the decline of the social emancipation movements had given way to a neoliberal democratic consensus that replaced ideological opposition with economic growth. But stereotypes aside, the eighties were not just a time of unprecedented intensity in biopolitical management of the body and sexuality, but also of the invention of new strategies for struggle and resistance.

Rather than succumbing to the temptation of a sentimental ecology or an anthropoligisation of animal nature, Deleuze and Derrida suggested conceiving it as an anomalous, liminal phenomenon, not in terms of boundaries. From this perspective, this seminar will reopen the question of animality and the monstrous at the intersection between thought and artistic practice, as part of an investigation on identity (no longer identical or substantial) and community. It will also addresses the role played by animality and monstrosity as dispositifs of marginalization of specific social groups.


Fons #01 offers a look back over Esther Ferrer's artistic career and her own comments on her works Íntimo y personal and Silla Zaj, both of which form part of the MACBA Collection.

Nobody who is interested in issues of gender, race or class can ignore the provocative thesis that the Indian thinker Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak formulates in her text "Can the Subaltern Speak?" which sparked a heated debate that still continues today: Manuel Asensi Pérez, who translated the text, provides critical commentaries that make this at times cryptic work accessible to lay readers.

Elements for a postfeminist historiography of the contemporary art

In recent years the relationship between art, feminism and sexual micropolitics has become one of the axes from which incisive re-readings of the dominant historiography of art are being carried out. To the critical rehabilitation of figures like Adrian Piper, Judy Chicago, Nicole Eisenman, Katharina Sieverding, Esther Ferrer, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Jürgen Klauke, Carlos Leppe and Ocaña must be added the proliferation of collective exhibitions that, often on the basis of North American genealogies, attempt to narrate other histories and to give an account of other gazes. Yet how are we to understand this sudden institutional inscription? Is it a question of a depoliticising recuperation or of an opportunity to re-politicise the hegemonic narrations of the history of art? What is the relationship of feminist, gay and lesbian identity politics with these historiographic projects?

In the context of so many aesthetics of identity and the explosion of modern-day institutional gender politics, we shall be referring to post-identity narratives, which displace hegemonic discourses without renaturalizing sexual, gender, racial or national identity: border narratives which occupy contact zones and hybrid spaces. Unlike gender politics and feminist, gay and anti-colonialist identity, which establish binary oppositions between masculinity and femininity, heterosexuality and homosexuality, colonisers and the colonised, giving the second element of the duality the position of political, moral and even metaphysical "exteriority" in relation to their dominators, post-identity theories see the sex-race-capital system as a network of forces, in which there is no room for any kind of exteriority.

In the late 1990s, a number of French porn actors and actresses began to make their own films and to think critically about their pornographic practice, giving rise to an unprecedented way of portraying sexuality which, to paraphrase the term coined by André Bazin, could be described as «nouvelle vague porn». These directors, who defy classification simply as pornographers or filmmakers, have adopted a new policy of the gaze and are influenced by trash literature, Baudelaire, Bukowski and Lydia Lunch, horror films, punk and goth culture, American feminist «pro-sex» movements and Annie Sprinkle’s traditional critique of pornography.

The nineties represented a boom for critical discourses on the construction of gender, sexuality and race. Teresa de Lauretis and Donna Haraway, employing the Foucauldian notion of biopower, redefine cinematographic, artistic, and scientific representation within the terms of the technologies of gender. Haraway uses the metaphor of the cyborg—a term coined by Mandred Clynes in 1960 to describe a laboratory rat implanted with a cybernetic control system—to demonstrate that our bodies and our gender, racial and sexual identities are the products of complex biopolitical technologies. 

TAKING TO THE STREETS. An audiotour through Barcelona's underground scene of the 1970s

This audiotour took us to some of the key places in Barcelona where people gathered, discussed and engaged in independent, collective production during the seventies. Bars, studios, apartments and other improvised venues where political debate took place, or where small work communes created fanzines and magazines like "El Rollo Enmascarado" and "Ajoblanco". This is the underground, libertarian, homosexual story of Barcelona during the last days of Franco's dictatorship and the 'transition-transaction' (as Bernat Muniesa called it), a time when the streets were a stage for celebrations, for the people, and for politics.

Son[i]a #72. Beatriz Preciado

From January to March 2009, the MACBA hosts a series of seminars organised in the context of its Independent Studies Program (PEI). The seminars offer a discursive space in which to analyse the impact of different feminist and queer theories in artistic practices in Spain over the last few decades.

Each seminar in the series is conceived as a monograph on issues such as the relationship between conceptualism and feminism, the different forms of homosexual activism centred on the politics of identity and visibility, and the areas of resistance within discursive and exhibition-based production in Spain.

Son[i]a interviews Beatriz Preciado, a lecturer in the PEI program who also leads the workshop Art After Feminisms.

Son[i]a #42. Patricia Soley–Beltrán

Radicalising the theoretical instruments created by Foucault, Derrida, Lacan, Beauvoir and Wittig, Judith Butler proposed one of the most incisive philosophical readings on gender and sexual identity at the end of the 1980s. The MACBA has taken advantage of her lecture visit to devote a conference, a lecture-workshop and a class to her and to analyse her life and work. Likewise, SON[I]A speaks with Patricia Soley-Bertán, head of the course "Theory and praxis: Judith Butler's thinking", about her work and philosophy.

The Post-porn Marathon: Gender Technologies and Obscene Bodies and Spectacular Specimens are just a few of the workshops and activities that Beatriz Preciado has organised and directed at the MACBA around the aesthetic-political discourses of contemporary sexual representation. A professor of the History and Theory of the Body and Contemporary Gender Theories at the University of Paris Saint-Denis, her work centres on a performance-based reading of identity and gender. This SON[I]A talks with Beatriz Preciado about the key concepts that structure her discourse and her critical positioning in the theories of gender.

Son[i]a #131. Judith Butler

Judith Butler is the Maxine Elliot Chair professor in the Rhetoric and Comparative Literature departments at the University of California, Berkeley. She has previously taught at Wesleyan and Johns Hopkins universities. Butler has made significant contributions to the fields of feminism, queer theory, political philosophy and ethics, and is considered to be one of the most influential intellectuals in the world. Her recent works include 'Precarious Life' (2006), 'Undoing Gender' (2006), 'Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity' (2007), 'Vulnerability, Survivability' (2008) and 'Frames of War: When is Life Grievable?' (2010).

Son[i]a talks to Judith Butler about politics, economy, control societies, gender and identity.

From a record collector's perspective, "Objeto Semi-Identificado No Pais Do Futuro. Tropicália and post-tropicalismo in Brasil (1967-1976)" is an overview of the musical side of Tropicalismo that offers an introduction to the movement and helps to explain some of its key aspects. With a special emphasis on the more experimental, avant-garde works of the genre, the selection also shows the ongoing presence and influence of Tropicalismo in the history of Brazilian music that came directly after it.