A lecture by Giovanna Zapperi

Discursive and Curatorial Productions Initiative
The Visual Cultures of Work research group
Visual Arts @ SME 406, University of California, San Diego
Tuesday, January 26, 2016 at 4PM
DCP Open House Reception at 6PM

Carla Lonzi was an important art critic and feminist in post-WWII Italy, who withdrew from the art world in 1970. In 1969, she published Self-Portrait, a montage of a series of conversations she recorded with fourteen artists (all male except Carla Accardi) between 1966 and 1969.

The book also marked a departure: in 1970, together with Accardi, she co-founded Feminine Revolt, one of the first feminist collectives in Italy—and never came back to art criticism. For Lonzi, there was no possible reconciliation between her activity as an art critic and her subsequent feminist engagement, which has contributed in representing her trajectory as dramatically bifurcated. Lonzi’s feminism can be seen to build on the radical refusal of the forms of creativity of that time, in particular the myth that art is an emancipatory practice.

Carla Lonzi’s critique of art as labor is part of her call for a rejection of male competitive structures in favor of non-productivity and free relations. In her texts, art emerges as entwined with a number of institutions, power relations, and strategies, as well as forms of sociability, life and labor that structurally oppress women. This lecture draws on Lonzi’s ideas about artistic alienation and masculinity in order to test their resonances from the point of view of a contemporary feminist critique of the capture of life and its reduction to labor.

Lonzi’s significant works include: Self-Portrait (1969); Manifesto of the Feminine Revolt (1970); Let’s Spit on Hegel, The Clitoridian Woman and the Vaginal Woman, and Other Writings (1974). 


Giovanna Zapperi is a Paris-based art historian who received her doctorate from the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) in Paris. She has published numerous studies in anthologies, exhibition catalogues, critical articles, and reviews in France and abroad, including Les Cahiers du MNAM, Histoire de l’Art, Perspective, Oxford Art Journal, Art History, Kritische Berichte, and Parachute.

Her dissertation on Marcel Duchamp received the City of Paris Award for Gender Studies, and was published in 2012. From 2005 to 2009, she was on the editorial board of the journal Multitudes; from 2007-2009, she was a visiting Rudolf Arnheim Professor at the Humboldt University in Berlin; and in 2009, she was a research fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies in Nantes.

In 2010, Zapperi became a faculty member of the École Nationale Supérieure d’Art in Bourges, where she teaches the history and theory of contemporary art. From 2014–15, she was a fellow at the French Academy in Rome where she began working on her current book manuscript on the criticism and art historical work of radical Italian feminist Carla Lonzi (1931–1982). She co-curated the exhibition, SUITE RIVOLTA. Carla Lonzi's Feminism and the Art of Revolt on the Lonzi’s legacy within contemporary art.

Image Caption: Carla Lonzi (center) with artists Carla Accardi, Luciano Fabro, Luciano Pistoi, and Giulio Paolini, Turin 1965