Notes on the Renaissance of Women

This storm of endless thoughts and ceaseless pounding of my heart has left me craving a pen, a computer, something all morning. Something to let me release this craze of emotion that has imprisoned my mind like a windowless cell unable to see the outside world. I need to write. Write. Pour these fragmented ideas onto a page where they can become something concrete, rather than this mad stream of consciousness whose speed is so excessive that it doesn’t actually know what is rational. And though I find my words to always be so conscious of the glaring computer screen, a pen and paper are hardly sufficient, for the slowness of my hands would not allow me to scribe this script. To release all that I want and need.


Any boyfriend, parent or employer can probably attest to the fact that the angst of a twenty-something-year-old cavalier woman is hardly one to be combatted with. Promises are made, and hopefully not broken, but sometimes they are. People are let down, some are threatened, while others are aggravated. Working independently is not an easy task for anyone, but I have found that the obstacles women, especially those working in the arts, must tackle far exceed those opposing men. Though, without a doubt, it brings a whole new meaning and application for the term, “Renaissance”. For it is now, in this day and age where women must be founding organizations, and running company departments, and sitting on advisory boards, and working on research, and writing for publications, and going out to network, and attending a yoga class where we un-mindfully Vinyasa, and socializing at friends’ dinner parties, and spending time with boyfriends (or husbands, or children, or grandparents, or parents) that out of the woodwork a new, somewhat neurotic Renaissance Woman has arrived.

Whether researching or writing, networking or socializing, these infinite tasks seem to be on the daily checklist for many contemporary women.  

Though not intended to be a feminist rant, nor even a pontification of contemporaries and my own do-it-all attitude, I find all too frequently that strong-minded women across industries face the same challenges in this modernity that ideally exists in equality, but in reality still does not. Moreover, for one reason or another, I have found many strong-minded women unable to shed the ego that perpetuates our success, and as such standing as individual, but scattered units enveloped by a somewhat crazed state of continuous work always striving for perfection. The Beijing-based artist, Alessandro Rolandi one wrote, we have been infected with the bug of our contemporary temperament, “the compulsive quest for the next new thing: the “new” and the “young”, even if, often the “new” and the “young” are objectively not interesting and as a matter of fact “not new”. This situation puts a strong pressure on younger generations and push them to take on professional behaviors and very competitive attitudes…giving up the anarchy and the courage of their age to a more calculated and strategic thinking.”

There are a few things I can say about perfection, which I’m sure any seasoned veteran will similarly attest to. As a Virgo, I am the queen of meticulous organization, with semi-insane color-coded schedules, lists and Excel sheets. But what I have come to realize is that the perfecting of organizing all that must be done detracts from the time spent on the things that actually must be done – sure it is important to delegate tasks and have a management system that allows a team to know what/when/where and how things should be done. But it is more important to dive into the dirty of work actually doing, creating, producing and/or absorbing (knowledge) than it is to make that list of what you will read. After all, research processes are just that, they are processes that take you on paths unbeknownst to you upon starting. It is because of this that one does research in the first place. It is the dirty work itself, and not the meticulous lists that bring forth the most innovative work breaking the boundaries and practices of what lay before.

Moreover, the continual researching, editing, writing, re-editing process is one that, to a certain extent, must be finite. There is Pareto’s golden economic 80-20 rule. When applied to the perfection of work, I say that it takes 20% of your time to complete 80% of work, but the remaining 80% of the time to perfect the other 20% of uncompleted work. Most of the time, it is only yourself as a specialist that will notice the difference if the remaining 20% of the work is completed, so why spend another 80% of your time trying to get there. While I am hardly championing a slacker attitude, there comes a point when workloads are excessive and unmanageable by one – as such, things just must be finished. If mistakes arise, then we must see them as challenges, and not as problems – they are points of contention from which we can learn, for it is here that we are able to see the faulting line between success and failure, thus giving us a point of reference for the success itself. As such, it is only from failure, and not success, that improvement stems.

Turning this into this takes less work than imagined

Whilst these are strategies to alleviate the colossal amounts of work brought upon by our compulsive quest, perhaps it is the quest itself that we must re-evaluate; moreover, what are the societal values that we, by default of existing as a part of the collective, are influenced by? For the most part, we are so intertwined with our collective system that we are unable to escape it. It is such with language – learning Chinese has taught me more than ever that we as Westerners are bound to a linear logic that derives from the ancient Greek classicists. And while our contemporary, globalized and scientifically oriented world is driven by this logic, there is an essence of ‘being’ that is built into the pictorial-Chinese character that prompts another kind of circular ‘rational’. And so, while you may feel that I am veering from the ‘linear logic’ of a thesis, in fact, it is by means of touching upon various points that I ‘paint’ you a rational of the contemporary Renaissance woman predicament – it cannot be pinpointed or solved by one point, per say, but rather is depicted by a collection of points. As such, I ask you to ask yourself, what is the linear logic that drives your compulsive quest as a Renaissance woman? At what points has the logic faltered in accordance with that which is inherently you, as [insert name]? And how will you in a somewhat disorganized, and non-perfected manner reconstruct the contemporary woman within the Renaissance you, rather than existing as the archetypal Renaissance woman in our contemporary age?



Zandi Brockett

Zandi Brockett

I’m a Beijing-based curator, writer, collaborator, and photographer from Los Angeles. I am the founding curator of Bactagon Projects, a curatorial platform that supports cultural engagement in China through cross-disciplinary research projects, further serving to identify and (re)define alternative research methodologies, funding channels and content distribution pathways. I serve as the Editor-in-Chief of the platform’s independent publication, 八家BaJia, and oversees A.M. Brainstorm, its monthly conversation series and live-recorded podcast. With a primary interest in developing user-driven cultural experiences that challenge conventional modes of engagement, I also researche the sociological influences of culture and experiments with alternative structures for funding.

Along side these curatorial projects, I am a member of The Collective Eye, a meta-collective that looks at and challenges the ways in which collective practices are formed. I’ve written extensively on contemporary Chinese art, and has published both my  written and translating work in several artist catalogs, periodicals such as LEAP, ArtForum China and Architectural Digest China. For the past two and a half years, I was also managed all international projects of the renown Chinese painter, Liu Xiaodong/ I have a BA from Duke University and an MA from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. I enjoy Moroccan food, early 20th century American photography and asthanga yoga.

Read more about and from the author: Zandie’s WiLab Profile

Originally posted 2014-12-03 12:00:15. Republished by Blog Post Promoter