Kennedy, Jennifer

Jennifer Kennedy

Assistant Professor

Department of Art History and Art Conservation

Affiliation

Research Areas

Global contemporary art; transnational feminist art and theories; queer theory; performance, electronic, and digital media; art and activism, interdisciplinary research and methodologies; critical, radical, and experimental pedagogies, particularly feminist pedagogies.

Jennifer Kennedy
Prof. Jen Kennedy (centre, in black sneakers) at the Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia, 2016.

Biography

My research and teaching focus on intersections between art, mass media, and politics from the 1950s to the present day. My research has been inspired and enabled by transformations in the field of art history that have taken place as a result of the influence of postcolonial theory, feminisms and queer theory, critical race theory, and the global turn, and my teaching is guided by the proposition that these research-driven transformations must be accompanied by transformations in teaching if they are to have a truly meaningful impact on the future of the discipline. I am currently working on three interdisciplinary projects:

  • SSHRC-funded research on histories and legacies of the artistic practices that developed in relation to transnational cyberfeminist movements of the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s.
  • Wicked Ideas-funded research on the possibilities and challenges of restoring and conserving digital born art and cultural heritage (I am co-lead on this project with Susan Lord, Film and Media).
  • SSHRC and eCampus Ontario funded research on transforming teaching and learning in art history with the collective Open Art Histories, of which I am a founding member.

Like all my work, these projects are motivated by questions about how agency and power are expressed and experienced through the production and interpretation of art, particularly by communities that have been marginalized by dominant narratives of art history. My recent publications include the co-edited volume, Transnational Perspectives on Feminism and Art (Routledge 2021), which brings transnational feminist praxis into conversation with histories of feminist art in the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s, and “Across the Nebraska Border and the Virtual-Material Divide: Contextualizing Shu Lea Cheang’s Brandon, 1994-1999” (International Journal of Performance Art and Digital Media 17.2, 2021). Topics of some of my recent talks (and forthcoming articles) include the feminist history and legacy of the Banff New Media Institute (1995-2005), Canadian cyberfeminist artist Nancy Paterson, and the unrealized net art collaboration of Australian artist Linda Dement and writer Kathy Acker. I have also written on gender and race in the work of the Situationist International.

My research informs, and is informed by, my multidisciplinary collaboration with Berkeley-based artist Liz Linden, which uses appropriation and semiotics to interrogate the operations and intents of the language of contemporary feminisms. Our work is performance-based and participatory, borrowing from familiar, community-oriented modes of communication and display––libraries, newspapers, town hall meetings, and telephone surveys, among others––to encourage participants with diverse positions, politics, and goals to collectively grapple with the challenging and often contentious topic of contemporary feminism.