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Each month, CAA’s Committee on Women in the Arts selects the best in feminist art and scholarship. The following exhibitions and events should not be missed. Check the archive of CWA Picks at the bottom of the page, as several museum and gallery shows listed in previous months may still be on view or touring.

July 2013

Martha Wilson

Martha Wilson, The Working Girl from A Portfolio of Models, 1974, 6 black-and-white gelatin-silver prints and 7 typed index cards, 20 × 14 in. (artwork © Martha Wilson)

Martha Wilson
Institute of Visual Arts
Kenilworth Square East, University of Wisconsin, 2155 North Prospect Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53202
June 7–August 11, 2013

It’s been already forty years since Martha Wilson radically intervened in Conceptual art by including the female body, especially her own, in her endeavors. She also pioneered uses of masquerade to explore the effects of the camera in self-representation, deconstructing gender stereotypes and exposing the fluidity of gender and identity. Organized by the Independent Curators International and curated by Peter Dykhuis, this traveling exhibition examines the radical strategies and politics that underpin Wilson’s work as a visual artist—especially her performances, videos, and photo-text compositions—and as an activist and the founder of Franklin Furnace from the 1970s to today. Accompanying the exhibition is a catalogue and a parallel program that will raise interesting questions about feminism today, the state of masculinity codes, and more.

Call for Papers: “Recollecting Forward: Feminist Futures in Art Practice, Theory, and History”
Association of Art Historians Annual Conference
Royal College of Art, London, England
April 10–12, 2014

In recent years, a series of blockbuster exhibitions and several high-profile symposia have set out to assess the past and present of feminist art practice, theory, and history. This session seeks to pinpoint and debate the key issues arising from these attempts to make retrospective sense of the past forty years of feminist work in the visual arts. Does this remarkable upsurge in artistic, curatorial, and art-historical interest in art practice inflected by feminism constitute the first step in putting feminism on the map, or else does it draw a line under a diverse constellation of works, practices, and texts that are to remain forever suspended between countercultural revolution and institutional acknowledgement? Feminism’s impact on art practice, theory, and history is frequently presented either as a series of successive “waves” or as a set of (often mutually antagonistic) mother/daughter/granddaughter relations. This session for the 2014 annual conference of the Association of Art Historians aims to redress this focus on linear progression and generational division by reconsidering temporality in feminist art practice, theory, and history. The session chairs invite contributions from practicing artists, art historians, and art critics that revisit and recast historical practices and texts or otherwise explore potential feminist futures in the visual arts.

To foster a productive encounter among a multiplicity of feminist perspectives and to stimulate open dialogue among those who may have come to feminism at different moments in time and from different cultural contexts, the chairs seek short papers of twenty minutes, which will be followed by a roundtable discussion featuring all speakers. If you would like to participate, please email the chairs directly, providing an abstract of a proposed paper of twenty minutes (unless otherwise indicated): Joanne Heath, independent scholar; and Alexandra M. Kokoli, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen. The abstract should be no more than 250 words; proposals should include your name and institution affiliation (if any). You will receive an acknowledgement of receipt for your submission within two weeks. Deadline: November 11, 2013.

Lorna Simpson

Lorna Simpson, Momentum, 2010, HD video with color and sound, 6:56 (artwork © Lorna Simpson)

Lorna Simpson
Jeu de Paume
1 Place de la Concorde, Paris, France 75008
May 28–September 1, 2013

The first major survey of the work of Lorna Simpson in Europe brings together signature masterpieces from all stages of her thirty-year-long career, including examples of the large-format photo-texts from the mid-1980s that first brought her critical attention, such as Gestures/Reenactments, Waterbearer, and Stereo Styles, and several series of screen prints on felt from the 1990s, including Wigs, The Car, The Staircase, Day Time, Day Time (gold), and Chandelier. The show also presents a group of recent drawings called Gold Headed, her Photo Booths ensembles of found photos and drawings (such as Gather and Please remind me of who I am…), and several video installations, including Cloudscape and Momentum, with evocative narratives that question the way in which experience is created and (mis)perceived. As such, the exhibition traces the continuity that underpins Simpson’s experimentation with photography and film and her questioning of the conventions of gender, identity culture, and memory, especially as an African American female artist, while seeking to further illuminate the intimate relationship of text and image that characterizes her work and the centrality of memory among her thematic preoccupations.

Yoko Ono: Half-a-Wind Show
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
Gl Strandvej 13, 3050 Humlebæk, Denmark
June 7–September 29, 2013

Another exhibition celebrating Yoko Ono’s eightieth birthday, Yoko Ono: Half-a-Wind Show is a major retrospective that seeks to reinstate her importance as a Conceptual artist, both political and avant-garde, as well as to complicate the experience of her work in various media. The show is introduced by En Trance, a major architectural installation shown for the first time in many years that offers six entry points to her work, alluding to the participatory aspect of her work while enabling different narratives of it to unfold.

The exhibition’s first section features groundbreaking experimental and conceptual works from the early 1960s, performed first in New York and later in Japan. It continues with large installations and recent works and also includes Moving Mountains, a new installation that invites its participants to form mobile sculptures from cloth bags. One area is devoted to Ono’s music videos, concert recordings, covers, posters, and more. The exhibition also emphasizes Ono’s political commitment and her efforts to engage in dialogue with people all over the world—both inside and outside the museum—through social media, billboards, and participation pieces. In Louisiana Park visitors are invited to hang their personal wishes on a Wish Tree, and large billboards throughout Copenhagen display poetic messages from the artist.

Agnès Varda
Bildmuseet
Umeå University, Konstnärligt Campus, Östra Strandgatan 30, B903 33 Umeå, Sweden
June 2–August 18, 2013

Agnès Varda (born 1928) established herself as an important figure in French cinema with her first film, La Pointe Courte (1954), which was considered as the starting point of the French New Wave—even though she was then in her mid-twenties and had no formal training as a filmmaker. Celebrating her lifelong achievement in filmmaking, Bildmuseet is showing a selection of Varda’s documentary projects from the 1960s and 1970s as well as newer works that display the boundary-transcending way in which she moves between the cinema theatre and the gallery showroom, between photography and cinema, and between moving and still images. Many of her films have political and feminist dimensions, such as Black Panthers (1968) and Réponse de femmes (1975), in which documentation and fiction overlap.

Cornelia Parker

Cornelia Parker, Pavement Cracks (City of London), 2012, black-patinated bronze, 206 x 152 x 9 cm (artwork © Cornelia Parker)

Cornelia Parker
Frith Street Gallery
17-18 Golden Square, London, W1F 9JJ, United Kingdom
June 7–July 27, 2013

Bringing together new sculptural and photographic works by the acclaimed British artist Cornelia Parker that transform overlooked and often uncanny facets of the city streets such as pavement cracks, accidental spills, and discarded pieces of wood into evocative objects and images, this exhibition captures a few of the hard-to-pin down threads that mark Parker’s diverse production: her interest in architecture; the antisculptural fragility of her sculptural objects and their mode of display; and the dark, personal, or social evocations and origins of their conception.

The exhibition consists of Black Path (2013), a linear structure of black bronze that hovers above the floor and three-dimensionalizes the cracks of the paving stones of the Bunhill Fields cemetery, through which the artist has been walking her daughter to school, often playing “don’t step on the lines,” a game that rekindled childhood memories and fears of street cracks. Unsettled (2012) uses wood collected from the streets of old Jerusalem, reassembled and precariously relocated against the walls of the gallery. The found abstract patterns on cracked walls provide the inspiration for Prison Wall Abstracts: A Man Escaped (2012–13), a set of twelve photographic prints depicting the perimeter wall of Pentonville Prison in London, whose broken surface of wall had been repaired by workmen with white filler in gestural patterns worthy of any Abstract Expressionist painter. Parker captured these walls before they were obliterated forever by a layer of magnolia paint. “Jerusalem”—both the poem of Bunhill Fields cemetery’s famous incumbent, William Blake, and the “holy city” where Parker filmed her latest work—lace up all three works, especially due to the effect of the Jerusalem syndrome (the tendency of the locals to attribute religious importance to random images) on the artist and the rekindling of her childhood fascination with identifying configurations on the cracked walks of her room at bedtime.

Valérie Favre: Selbstmord, Suicide
Neuer Berliner Kunstverein
Chausseestrasse 128, 10115 Berlin, Germany
June 8–July 28, 2013

Selbstmord, Suicide presents two extensive series of works by the Swiss-born, Berlin-based painter Valérie Favre that respectively deal with life and death. The Suicide cycle (2003–13) consists of 129 small-format paintings representing scenes of self-chosen death, focusing on the moment of the radical decision to end one’s life and the self-dramatization of the theatrical moment of death. The works refer to known suicide scenes from history, art, and literature as well as from current newspaper reports. Created especially for the exhibition, the second group, called still/leben (de la fragilité des fleurs n°5) (2013), consists of small- and large-scale paintings of floral still lifes. Addressing the creative process in a diaristic manner, the artist produced a small still life of a flower arrangement every day three months prior to the show, while adding one brushstroke at a time to the larger canvases. During the exhibition, a different small work is selected daily for exhibition.

Jane and Louise Wilson

Jane and Louise Wilson, Toxic Camera, Blind Landing Lab 1 (H-Bomb Testing Facility, Orford Ness), 2012, C-print Diasec mounted with aluminum and Perspex, 86½ x 71 in. (artwork © Jane and Louise Wilson)

Jane and Louise Wilson
303 Gallery
507 West 24th Street, New York, NY
June 25–August 2, 2013

At 303 Gallery, the twin sisters Jane and Louise Wilson will for the first time combine several bodies of work, including two photographic series: Atomgrad (Nature Abhors a Vacuum) (2010–12), depicting the town of Pripyat, built in the early 1970s by the Soviet Union to house Chernobyl factory workers; and Toxic Camera, Blind Landing Lab 1 (2012), which documents the Wilson’s first publicly sited installation, on a former H-bomb test facility on Orford Ness, an island off the Suffolk Coast owned by the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense.

Pauline Boty: Pop Artist and Woman
Wolverhampton Art Gallery
Lichfield Street, Wolverhampton, West Midlands, WV1 1DU, United Kingdom
June 1–November 16, 2013

Pauline Boty: Pop Artist and Woman is the first survey of this major yet short-lived contributor to British Pop since the rediscovery of her work in a family barn in the early 1990s. Before written out of British Pop’s history and reduced to a pale memory of a mythic figure, Pauline Boty (1938–1966) was included in Ken Russell’s landmark 1962 television documentary Pop Goes the Easel, which introduced her as one of the four protagonists of the Royal College of Art’s Pop scene in London (alongside Peter Blake, Derek Boshier, and Peter Philips). Soon, however, Boty, who had studied stained glass, reinvented herself as a painter by grafting her penchant for abstraction and collage through a figurative Pop idiom and by passionately embracing popular culture—all while speaking subversively as a woman, that is, by using the objects of her fanzine fascination to transgressively celebrate female sexuality and desire and to critically expose the sexism of pop and visual culture.

Bringing together more than forty works, some of which were considered lost and have never before been shown, Pop Artist and Woman traces the development of Boty’s work from a stained-glass student to a British Pop painter and establishes its unmistaken Popness and the radical nature of its politics, especially its feminism. Contextual archival material and an extensive catalogue by the curator Sue Tate further establishes her importance, analyzing her neglect and shedding light onto her life and her brief media stardom as a beauty and an actress. Most important, the exhibition joins other recent scholarship and exhibitions that question the neglect of female Pop artists by standard art history.

Moyra Davey

Moyra Davey, Kevin Ayers (Psychic), 2013, chromogenic print with adhesive tape, stamps, and ink (artwork © Moyra Davey)

Moyra Davey: Hangmen of England
June 8–October 6, 2013
Tate Liverpool
Albert Dock, Liverpool Waterfront, Liverpool, L3 4BB, United Kingdom

Moyra Davey: Hangmen of England introduces the work of a New York–based photographer, filmmaker, and writer—and a star of the 2012 Whitney Biennial—to the United Kingdom as part of a program called LOOK/13 at the Liverpool International Photography Festival. The project draws attention to the intimacy of Davey’s photographic practice and her use of common objects as starting points to unravel complex themes. For this exhibition, she presents work created using photographs taken in Liverpool and Manchester. As often the case with this artist, these images are influenced by personal stories and by narratives drawn from literature and theory. They were mailed to their city of origin, allowing the creases, tape, and mailing stamps marking each photograph to provide a physical trace of its journey.

The exhibition also includes a new version of the artist’s celebrated Copperhead series. Inspired by the global economic crisis, this series consists of one hundred close-up photographs of the profile of Abraham Lincoln engraved onto the most devalued denomination of American currency—the one-cent coin—to encourage a reevaluation of the fleeting beauty of the everyday. Copperhead reflects on the psychology of money and the varieties of decay brought about by the passage of time.

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