Ariadne (A Social Art Network) (1978-1980)
Suzanne Lacy and Leslie Labowitz
After working together throughout 1977 on Lacy's Three Weeks in May, Leslie Labowitz's Record Companies Drag their Feet, and their joint project In Mourning and In Rage, Lacy and Labowitz decided to formalize the coalition of artists, activists, media reporters, and politicians built during their performances on violence against women. The aim was to provide a structure to nourish activist feminist art on these themes, and become a power base to approach the media, address the community on women’s issues, and apply for funding. It was also a conceptual artwork, an expanded art-life coalition that coincident with groups like Group Material (the New York based collective active from 1979 to 1996), artists who produced performance and installation works under a common set of art-life practices and political agendas. Ariadne: A Social Art Network was designed to have a minimal administrative structure and a loose and fluid membership. It included women artists who had worked with Lacy and Labowitz in prior performances, students and artists from the performance and Woman’s Building community, supporters within city government, media reporters, and women who had emerged from the audiences and wanted to participate.
Activities were organized under three concepts: Education, including classes at the Woman’s Building in political performance and media workshops and lectures; Vision and Theory, composed of member’s writings on political art and violence, open forums on relevant topics, and special events of a critical or theoretical nature; and the Projects themselves, both Lacy and Labowitz’ and those of other artists in the community. Ariadne was viable between 1977 and 1980, sponsoring several community dialogues—including a well publicized screening of the movie “Hardcore” at Columbia Studios, co-sponsored by California Advocates for Trollops, where feminists could express their perceptions and analysis of the film to reporters. An apprenticeship class at the Feminist Studio Workshop created the Take Back the Night Float for the San Francisco March National Perspectives on Pornography conference. Projects and exhibitions, including the Incest Awareness Project by Labowitz, Bia Lowe, Terry Wolverton, Paula Lombardi, and women from the Women's Building, and Issue, an exhibition by Lucy Lippard at the ICA in London, continued under the auspices of Ariadne until the end of the decade.
With similar intentions to Labowitz and Lacy’s, The Performing Archive project, Leslie Labowitz created AgainstViolence.art to bring Ariadne: A Social Art Network online, making the works, strategies and impacts of the project, widely accessible.
The website acts as a research and educational tool for artists, educators, activists and students, exploring the long history of feminist activists and artists, working to end violence against women, who paved the way for the contemporary moment of the #MeToo movement.