Engendering an avant-garde

The unsettled landscapes of Vancouver photo-conceptualism

By Leah Modigliani

Engendering an avant-garde


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-0119-8
  • Pages: 296
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £80.00
  • Published Date: March 2018
  • BIC Category: Art History, Photography & photographs, History of art, Conceptualism, ART / History / General, Art & Design Styles: Conceptual Art
  • Series: Rethinking Art's Histories


Engendering an avant-garde is the first book to comprehensively examine the origins of Vancouver photo-conceptualism in its regional context between 1968 and 1990. Employing discourse analysis of texts written by and about artists, feminist critique and settler-colonial theory, the book discusses the historical transition from artists' creation of 'defeatured landscapes' between 1968-71 to their cinematographic photographs of the late 1970s and the backlash against such work by other artists in the late 1980s. It is the first study to provide a structural account for why the group remains all-male. It accomplishes this by demonstrating that the importation of a European discourse of avant-garde activity, which assumed masculine social privilege and public activity, effectively excluded women artists from membership.


'This scrutiny of the shibboleths supporting "Vancouver photo-conceptualism", more commonly reiterated than scrutinised, is telling. Modigliani opens up the possibility of new thinking rather than closing it down. For this reason, and because of her confident command of materials and sources, the book will reach the international audience avid for writing about the Vancouver School, its protagonists, photo-conceptualism, conceptual art of the late '60s, feminist deconstruction, regionalism v. internationalism and more.'
Charlotte Townsend-Gault, Professor Emeritus, Department of Art History, Visual Art & Theory, The University of British Columbia


Leah Modigliani is Assistant Professor of Visual Studies at Tyler School of Art at Temple University


1 Jeff Wall's Picture for Women (1979) and The Destroyed Room (1978): colonizing the space of gendered discourse
2 Emily Carr and the legacy of Commonwealth modernism
3 Myth and the 'home culture concept'
4 Establishing the theory and practice of a defeatured landscape
5 1970s and the gendered spaces of the counter tradition
6 Feminist theoretical and visual challenges to modernist representation

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