Frida Viktoria Sandström

Frida Viktoria Sandström

PhD fellow

For this PhD thesis I trace the practice and writings by cultural critics Jill Johnston (1929 – 2010) and Carla Lonzi (1931 – 1982), to analyse each of their modes of conducting political and artistic practice from within the field of criticism. Particular for the two cases is their refusal to ‘drop out’ and rather occupy the role of the critic to immanently critique politics of labour, gender and race, and consequentially punctuate the formality that may distance the profession from such matters and to rather make clear that such divisions inherently depends on such structural repression. Following Johnston’s and Lonzi’s writings within the field of art and political activism, I engage particularly in the way that the two critics question and reformulate the reproductivity immanent to the critic’s abstract labour vis-à-vis the abstract art form.

Investigating the role of social reproduction during the birth of conceptual art, the downfall of the avant-garde and during a period dominated by what Lucy Lippard categorized as the years of ‘the dematerialised artwork’ (1966-1972); I critically negate the Lippardian definition to instead depart from the two concepts of ‘disintegration’ (Johnston) and ‘deculturalisation’ (Lonzi), and investigate how an extended abstraction of social practice in Western capitalist production was further aestheticised by conceptual means during the period of the two critic’s activity.

Through the concept of social reproduction, which has a dialectical relationship to exchange value because of its non-productive aspects, the similarly dialectical relationship between the art form and the value form is put into a new light. Additionally, the concept of social reproduction allows for a better understanding of the various racial and sexual oppressions that such non-productive labour appears within, in late modernity. Disintegration and deculturalization must thus be understood not only in relation to the art form, but also to the value form, mostly dominated by a white, heterosexual and masculine matrix. Consequentially, the aesthetic judgment inherent to the role of the formalist critic is analysed with regards to this very matrix – which it both assumes and reproduces – but which the immanent critique of the two critics allows us to unpack and situate in a larger paradigm of an accelerated racial capitalism, inherently dominating the artform as we know it since.

Outside of my academic engagement I work as a writer and critic, and since 2015, I am a contributing editor at Paletten Art Journal. I am published in contexts such as Afterall, ArtForumArtAgendaMousseFrieze, e-flux Journal, Art Papers, Camera Austria, Kunstkritikk, Dagens Nyheter and Aftonbladet kultur, and 2015 I was the editor of the anthology KROPPSFUNKTION (Stockholm: 2015).

As a guest teacher and lecturer in Contemporary Art and Dance Theory, I have visited Umeå Academy of Fine Arts, Konstfack - University of Arts Craft and Design, Gerlesborg School of Fine Art, Linköping University, DOCH - Stockholm University of the Arts and at Akademin Valand, all in Sweden.

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