- Angry Women AT 25
Twenty-five years ago, in the midst of the Culture Wars, the San Francisco-based punk magazine series re/search published angry women, an anthology of interviews with fifteen contemporary performance artists, writers, musicians, and activists. The anthology marked something of a turning point in the history of feminism, its expression of renewed anger marking a tentative break with identity politics and a recognition of the need for “a renaissance of hope which anger can bring—stuck as we are in the midst of an existential, angst ridden culture of cynicism which has helped implant a widespread attitude of passivity and submissive acceptance,” as its editors remarked.1 In 2016 we continue to live in times of active cultural as well as geopolitical warfare; how much have the conditions of cynicism and repression changed since 1991? There is, after all, still a whole lot to get angry about. Beyond its political claims, we consider the anthology to play no less significant a role in changing the genealogy and discourse of experimental artistic practice, particularly in the United States, where the work of collecting and circulating experimental art by women remains deeply necessary. In light of the twenty-fifth anniversary of angry women we asked a number of scholars and artists, including some of the artists originally featured in the issue, to reflect on the relevance—as well as the inevitable shortcomings and frustrations—of the anthology today. What are we to make of the anthology’s framing concerns: [End Page 199] its frank, aggressive sexuality, its unapologetic recourse to myth, and its claim that “we need an electric revitalization of our life force; a reconnection to the world; a heightened conviction that we can change life”?2 Into what kinds of contemporary genealogies of experimentalism do we—or should we—place the likes of kathy acker, susie bright, wanda coleman, valie export, karen finley, diamanda galás, bell hooks, holly hughes, lydia lunch, suzy kerr and dianne malley, linda montano, avital ronell, sapphire, carolee schneemann, and annie sprinkle? And what are the continued stakes of anger in the arts of the present?
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1. Andrea Juno and V. Vale, introduction to Angry Women (San Francisco: RE/Search, 1991), 5.
2. Ibid. [End Page 200]