2016 - current
Irene Revell is a curator and writer who works with artists across sound, text, performance and moving image. Much of her work since 2004 has been with the London-based curatorial agency Electra, and she has been closely involved with collections including Electra’s Her Noise Archive and Cinenova: feminist film and video, as a trustee and founder-member of the Cinenova Working Group.
Recent projects include They are all of them themselves and they repeat it and I hear it, a year-long reading of Gertrude Stein’s The Making of Americans in 2020, co-organised with Anna Barham; workshop series These Are Scores (Camden Arts Centre, 2019; Sounding Bodies, Danish Royal Academy of Fine Art, Copenhagen, 2018; CNEAI, Paris, 2017, amongst others); exhibition project ORGASMIC STREAMING ORGANIC GARDENING ELECTROCULTURE with Karen Di Franco (Chelsea Space, London, 2018).
Recent writing includes essays in The Body in Sound, Music and Performance (Routledge, 2022), Performing Indeterminacy (Contemporary Music Review Special Issue, 2022); catalogue texts for Charlotte Prodger (Koenig, 2022), Pauline Boudry/Renate Lorenz (Spector Books, 2022), Beatrice Gibson: Deux Sœurs (Sternberg Press, 2020); and with Lina Džuverović, Parse Journal special issue on Art & Work (2020) and OnCurating special issue Curating In Feminist Thought (2018). In 2019 she collaborated with Primary Information on the publication of a new facsimile edition of Womens Work (co-edited by Alison Knowles & Annea Lockwood, 1975-8).
Since 2014 she has been Curator/Associate Lecuter on the MA Sound Arts, London College of College of Communication where she also holds a TECHNE AHRC scholarship for practice-based doctoral research at CRiSAP.
Live Materials: Womens Work, Pauline Oliveros & the embodied curator
Womens Work [sic] is a score magazine project co-edited by Fluxus artist Alison Knowles and composer Annea Lockwood in two issues of 1975 and 1978, gathering together the work of twenty-five of their female friends and collaborators. The project offers an invaluable counterpoint to the overwhelmingly male neo-avant-garde canon, evidencing a network of diverse artists relating their practices to the feminist (art) movement of the 1970s through the medium of the text score. Yet this multidisciplinary publication has rarely been referenced and never considered in its own right.
This thesis offers an expanded history of the Womens Work project that takes as its starting point the work of composer and artist Pauline Oliveros. I demonstrate that her turn to writing text scores, foregrounded in listening for intimate group work, is inextricably linked to the development of her own distinct feminist thought that I term Oliverosian. I ask what constitutes a feminist performance score? A neologism that emerged from working with these works of Oliveros’ of the early 1970s and leading directly to coming across Womens Work. I argue that the feminist performance score is at the heart of any shared feminist aesthetics within this constellation of projects. I chart these connections amidst a wider community in oral history portraits of eight further contributors to Womens Work: Julie Winter, Jacki Apple, Simone Forti, Heidi von Gunden, Beth Anderson, Nye Ffarrabas, Mary Lucier and Mieko Shiomi. In my own practice as a curator I explore how to work with such feminist performance scores and the wider historical ecology in which they emerged, leading to the demand for an embodied curator, a host to the live materiality of these works.
I situate this thesis within the theoretical framework of Karen Barad’s agential realism that foregrounds the fundamental indeterminacy of wave/particle duality, and I argue that this framework can be read throughout: from the formal duality of the score itself as both written text and live performance, to the implications for authorship and labour that both preserve an autonomy and require deep collaboration, to the radical potentials of a wider capacity to hold different and sometimes conflicting positions at once.