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Unspeakable Acts

Women, Art, and Sexual Violence in the 1970s

ISBN: 9780500023051 (HB - E)

The 1970s was a time of deep division and newfound freedoms. Galvanized by The Second Sex and The Feminine Mystique, the civil rights movement and the March on Washington, a new generation put their bodies on the line to protest injustice. Still, even in the heart of certain resistance movements, sexual violence against women had reached epidemic levels. Initially, it went largely unacknowledged. But some bold women artists and activists, including Yoko Ono, Ana Mendieta, Marina Abramovic, Adrian Piper, Suzanne Lacy, Nancy Spero and Jenny Holzer, fired up by women's experiences and the climate of revolution, started a conversation about sexual violence that continues today. Some worked unannounced and unheralded, using the street as their theatre. Others managed to draw support from the highest levels of municipal power. Along the way, they changed the course of art, pioneering a form that came to be called simply performance. Award-winning author Nancy Princenthal takes on these enduring issues and weaves together a new history of performance, challenging us to re-examine the relationship between art and activism, and how we can apply the lessons of that turbulent era to today



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