Identifying the Disoeuvre: artistic labour beyond the oeuvre

Felicity Allen, independent scholar,

Althea Greenan, Goldsmiths University of London,

Janice Cheddie, independent,

Alexandra Kokoli, Middlesex University London,

Lina Dzuverovic, Birkbeck University of London,

This session invites papers to reappraise our understanding of the complete products of an artist’s career, from an oeuvre to a Disoeuvre. The convenors will respond with a session of either paper presentations and/or round table discussion.

People positioned as marginal to art’s production have to work socially and institutionally, as well as in the studio, in order not only to make work, but to change the structures to allow their work to be recognised and critically received as art. We propose that, rather than disregarding those whose conventional oeuvre seems interrupted and inconsistent, we should look for artistic consistency in an artist’s work made in and beyond the studio, through employment at art’s institutions, or connected, for instance, to the labour of care, activism, or other social practices.

This neologism, the Disoeuvre, was first published by Felicity Allen in 2016 to elucidate the art careers of women of her generation (b.1950s), as an exemplar for others who might identify quite differently. As a critical tool, the Disoeuvre takes account of artists’ training in adaptability and their working lives across different sites. It responds to practices encountering  and persisting through ‘feminised’ labour (as maintenance or precarity), domestic instability, transience of documentation, new recognition for overlooked visual activisms and curatorial strategies, archival gaps; and is open to more.

How and where should we look to recognise and understand potential Disoeuvres? How can the Disoeuvre contribute to intersectional feminist debates? Can we identify artists’ adaptable yet consistent practices to recognise value beyond the progressive market discipline of a conventional oeuvre?

Information about the speakers and papers on this panel will be posted shortly. 



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