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so let us now praise Feminist Artists/ lament for Alexis Hunter

“This is it. My breathing had got shallow all the time not sometimes.This is how you die with MND, your breathing just gives out.
My neighbour in the hospice has turned the colour of the wall, magnolia!”. Facebook Alexis Hunter 23/2/14

Alexis Hunter died a day later.

Alexis Hunter is a key New Zealand feminist artist who has lived in London since 1972. Her work of the 1970s is identified as central to the development of radical feminist art in England .
Hunter was an activist and a feminist whose work used filmic chronology and photo sequences to directly confront the accepted norms of sexualization and objectification of women.

She was a member of numerous feminist groups including the Women’s Workshop of the Artist Union, curator of shows at the Women’s Free Arts Alliance, and also lectured on feminist art both in the UK and internationally. Her work was informed by an investigation into female psychology and awareness of advertising .

in 1948 she was born in Epsom, Auckland, one of twins, of Australian parents Jack Carlyle Hunter and Joan Maunsell nee Atthill who emigrated from Sydney in 1947.She attended Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland 1966-69 and was taught by Garth Tapper and Colin McCahon. She was tudent Union President 1969and graduated Diploma of Fine Arts, Honours in Painting, Elam School of Fine Arts. In 1971 she obtained a Diploma of Teaching (Art and Art History) from Auckland Secondary Teachers’ College.and then sailed to England on the ship ‘The Oriana’ through the Panama Canal with the writer Louise Rennison. In London she became a member of The Women’s Workshop of the Artists Union with an Art practice focused on collective strategies and feminist politics. Other members of the WWAA were the artists Mary Kelly, Margaret Harrison and Kay Hunt.1976-77. She was a member of The Women’s Free Arts Alliance. She went on to have a hugely productive life as working artist.see

In the words of Alexis herself ;

“Over 35 years ago, I was interested in exploring the fault lines between the feminist concept of Patriarchy and the ways in which the media world viewed men.

I wanted to authenticate a form of art that incorporated feminist theory – images and presentation – that insisted on the female identity of the artist. These photographs produced as narrative sequences were called Approach to Fear, and investigated the value of feminism in conquering conventional female fears, such as technophobia, rape, grief, and objectified male sexual power.

I used the still camera as a movie camera to capture the symbolic relationships between objects and the human psyche. These works were a visual antidote to the ideas of romance and sexuality in advertising. The viewer is invited, through the focus of the camera lens, to recognize the artist’s attention to theory. As the images sharpen the focus delineates the symbolic detachment and the realization of the goal of psychological liberation from pre-feminist socialization.

There is a genuine interest in radical politics after the materialism of the last two decades. The moral ethic of this artwork and the complex dialectic between painting, film and the still photograph that this work explores might now be seen for its complexity and experimental nature. Not only does the context remain politically radical but the imagery is contemporary; this work is performance art where the artist is the ‘exposed’ protagonist.

The privileges that women fought for in the 1960s and 1970s are now under threat. This work shows how art can be political and can be used to subvert and challenge the status quo without sacrificing aesthetic integrity and artistic experiment.

It was exciting to be involved in the second wave of feminism and the feminist movement, and I am hoping that the third wave will be just as vibrant”.

–Alexis Hunter/Alex Brew
Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: Feminist Art Base: Alexis Hunter


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