Andrea Geyer and Sharon Hayes
by Kimberly Lamm

Translating the Question of Feminism: Cambio de Lugar, Change of Place

In _Cambio de Lugar_Change of Place_ Andrea Geyer and Sharon Hayes ask questions about the ways women living in Mexico City and New York City perceive themselves in relation to feminism and gender. The questions are serious yet unassuming, and in their own expansive ways, provocative. While the series of questions are repeatedly asked, translated, and answered by individuals on separate screens, the piece as a whole poses its own questions as well: Is there a discourse of feminism that reverberates in the lives and words of women? If so, how has that discourse translated into different historical, geographical, linguistic, economic and generational contexts? How has the question of feminism been translated into other questions? _Cambio de Lugar_Change of Place_ reminds us that in shifting and often unpredictable political circumstances, basic questions about how women perceive feminism and gender always need to remain as questions andat the same time, need to be pressed for specific answers about lived effects.

Partially because this piece is structured with questions, and partially because we only see the translator as those questions are being asked and answered, this exhibition is contemplative, and doesn't deliberately seek to shape a particular agenda. The contemplative tone and calm, earnest questioning of this piece strikes me as highly appropriate to the contemporary moment, since so many questions have been pressed upon American feminism in the last two decades about its borders, assumptions, and exclusions. _Change of Place_Cambio de Lugar_ expresses an awareness of these pressures, but patiently listens for the words and ideas that will help translate the question of feminism into different discourses and contexts, words and phrases that have been productively sifted through history, ideology, and lived experience.

The question that strikes the deepest and most unpredictable chord is "Do women need to be defended?" The wide-range of implications within the grammar of this question is quite astonishing and the questions women asked in response revealed a lot, sometimes more than their answers. Defended how? By whom? Do you mean by men? One woman was quite comprehensive throughout her interview, yet was stumped by this question about women's "defense." Another woman who wanted more time to think about how she defines feminism was adamant and quick with a "No" to this question. This question, and the answers it provoked, made me want to converse with the women on and off the screen. Since feminists continually work within and against the "subjective moment of their own oppression" as Mary Kelley phrases it, the moments (and there must be more than one) in which women are interpellated to acquiesce to their devalued status, shouldn't the behavior that expresses women's complicity within sexism be translated, explained, and defended by feminists? The great thing about _Cambio de Lugar_Change of Place_ is that it doesn't put women on the defensive, but piques a desire for more conversation, for more questions.

Since it has a plain, unassuming aesthetic, it might easy to ignore the way the formal choices of _Cambio de Lugar_Change of Place_ reinforce its theme. But the fact that these interviews play simultaneously (though unsynchronized) on different screens suggests something about the possibilities of coalition among individuals as well as a conception of time necessary for a continually enlivened feminism. Feminism has to be cognizant of not only its own past, future, and present, but various and perhaps contradictory pasts, presents, and futures. The room as a whole, with every image buzzing with thought, performs the expansive awareness necessary for this politically flexible conception of time.

The video-camera's sustained focus on the translator is a simple and smart choice, and operates metaphorically on different levels. First of all, it deliberately deflects any desire to identify the women asking and answering the questions in terms of their physical images. The focus on the translator also calls attention to the fact that our answers and questions are always already mediated, through language, through history. And the heard, but not completely seen triangle of interviewers, translator, and "subject" suggest that every woman has a complicated, perhaps even invisible web of both public and private circumstances that influence her responses.

The richness of _Cambio de Lugar, Change of Place_ is the sustained portrayal of the translator's improvisational movement within its triangle questioning, listening, and thinking are to any sustained political movement such as feminism that has origins in both intellectual and activist realms, and is expected to attentively translate into changing times and places.

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