Mary Beth Edelson and The Spiral Dance of Goddess and Cyborg

Speaker: Dr Amy Tobin

Photograph of an installed artwork, consisting of paper pictures of animals and insects stuck on a wall i Mary Beth Edelson, Burning Bright, 1973. Oil, ink, china marker, and collage on silver gelatin print, displayed among Selected Wall Collages, 1972–2011. Ink, marker and paper mounted on canvas. Installation view Mary Beth Edelson: A Celebration, 26 April–4 June 2022, David Lewis Gallery, New York. Courtesy David Lewis Gallery, New York.

The career of the New York-based artist Mary Beth Edelson (1933–2021) was shaped by feminism and the Women’s Liberation Movement. Edelson is most well known for her audacious photocollage poster Some Living American Artists (1971), for which she de-faced a reproduction of Leonardo Da Vinci’s mural The Last Supper (1495–8) with images of women artists. She is also associated with Goddess feminism, and so with the neo-paganism of the Women’s Spirituality Movement, a praxis and a discourse beset in histories of feminism as at best naïve and universalising, and at worst exclusionary. Returning to Donna Haraway’s well-known feminist essay ‘A Cyborg Manifesto’ (1985) and her imbrication of the cyborg and the goddess in a ‘spiral dance’, I look again at how the goddess, the cyborg and other critters manifested in the technologies of Edelson’s feminist art.

Amy Tobin is Assistant Professor in the Department of History of Art, University of Cambridge, Curator, Contemporary Programmes, Kettle’s Yard and Fellow of Newnham College, Cambridge. Her book Women Artists Together is forthcoming with Yale University Press this year

Organised by Dr Rachel Warriner (The Courtauld). 


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23 Mar 2023

Thursday 23rd March 2023, 5pm - 6.30pm GMT

Free, booking essential

Vernon Square Campus, Lecture Theatre 2

This is an in person event at our Vernon Square campus. Booking will close 30 minutes before the event begins.