CAA News Today

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.

October 2013

Chiharu Shiota, performance of IN SILENCE at Centre PasquArt, Biel/Bienne, 2008, black wool, burnt grand piano, and burnt chairs (artwork © Chiharu Shiota; photograph by Sunhi Mang and provided by VG Bild Kunst)

Chiharu Shiota: Trace of Memory
Mattress Factory
505 Jacksonia Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15212
September 12, 2013–May 31, 2014

The Japanese-born, Berlin-based, yet largely nomadic installation artist Chiharu Shiota started using wool to draw in space when she studied painting in 1992. Ever since she has become worldwide known for her haunting environments of dense, convoluted networks of black or red wool that often shroud found objects of personal or social significance, such as shoes, hospital beds, charred chairs, monumental or miniature dresses, et cetera. Her work evokes the psychic interlacing of loss and memory, dream and reality, past and present, the complexity and fragility of human relationships, and the body itself, and Shiota’s networks universalize the personal with an antimonumental scale, despite the often large size of her installations. Exploring remembrance, a central theme of her poetics, for the Mattress Factory’s Trace of Memory, the artist responds site specifically to the storied past of a nineteenth-century row house—the building at 516 Sampsonia Way in Pittsburgh—filling eight rooms with her work.

Multiple Occupancy: Eleanor Antin’s “Selves”
Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery
Columbia University, 826 Schermerhorn Hall, MC5517, 1190 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10027
September 4–December 7, 2013

Multiple Occupancy: Eleanor Antin’s “Selves” is a homecoming survey of the fascinating variety of “selves” that this Southern Californian artist invented and embodied between 1972 and 1991. These persons make sharp commentaries on history, identity, and their own fictions, often from a feminist perspective, that resonate with contemporary interrogations of identity and archival slippage. Focusing on themselves as they unfold in videos, photographic series, drawings, and installations, the exhibition offers a unique opportunity not only to follow the tragic and humorous ways in which Antin’s fictional lives develop in time and across media and unveil the complexities of history, identity, and gender under a postmodernist light, but also to study the radical ways in which the artist intervened in the all-male club of Conceptual art and dilated its rigidity with combinations of performance, narrative, fantasy, and biography.

The exhibition features Antin’s best-known alter ego, the African American ballerina Eleanora Antinova from Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, who dreamed to play the classic roles of Giselle and Sylphide but was always relegated to more “exotic” types. Antinova helped Antin to interweave race into the feminist critique that underpins her impersonation of ballerinas. Multiple Occupancy also includes Antin’s Vietnam-era King of Solana Beach, a seventeenth-century-looking monarch who struggles to empower his disenfranchised subjects in their fight against the greed of wealthy landowners; a self-taught ballerina who has mastered poses but cannot dance in motion; the Nurse Eleanor Nightingale, who cares for soldiers at the front line of the Crimean War; and Little Nurse Eleanor, whose attempts to heal her patients fail due to their lust for her a century later. The exhibition ends with Yevgeny Antinov, an exiled Russian film director from the 1920s who disseminates his radical leftist politics through a silent film, The Man without a Word, that depicts Polish shtetl life. The work is an homage to Antin’s mother, who was an actress in Poland’s Yiddish theater.

n.paradoxa: international feminist art journal

Call for Contributions: Religion
November 1, 2013

The editorial board of n.paradoxa: international feminist art journal, published by KT press, seeks contributions on the topic of religion for volume 33, to be published in January 2014.
Women artists’ works that have provided a critical view of religious life, belief, doctrine, and representation will be the focus of this volume. How have women artists addressed, challenged, or critiqued representations of themselves in the major and minor religions around the world?

Religions are not only “opium for the masses”; they have also provided major rituals that mediate experiences of birth, marriage, and death in society. Explorations of female power, women goddesses, female spirituality, and sexuality have all been mediated by reconsidering or critiquing many aspects of religious ritual, belief systems, and representations of the role of women (such as Madonna/whore and veiled/unveiled). Women experience different religions and cults as both liberating and oppressive in their moral codes for how they should dress, behave, operate as sexual beings, have families, and live a “good” life.

Artworks that offer critical perspectives on the either liberating or oppressive views of religion for women will be considered here, as well as works that address multifaith (and tolerant) conceptions or readings analyzing the many different religions of the world today. In some parts of the world, artworks and exhibitions are still censored for their idolatry, offense to religious belief, or desecration of religious symbols. Case studies in which women artists have been central to different forms of censorship on religious grounds are welcome. Deadline for copy: November 1, 2013.

Şükran Moral, La Artista, 1994, silver print, 200 x 180 cm (artwork © Şükran Moral)

Despair and Metanoia
Galeri Zilberman
İstiklal Cad. Mısır, Apt. 163, K.3 D.10, Beyoğlu, Istanbul
September 12–October 26, 2013

Despair and Metanoia pairs the work of two pioneering performance artists, the Austrian VALIE EXPORT and the Turkish Şükran Moral, underlining the confluences between both artists’ artistic tropes, themes, gender politics, and provocation strategies. One of the two centerpieces that give the exhibition its title, Moral’s Despair, which features images of a boat of illegal immigrants in the middle of the sea. Another Moral work, Crucified, is a provocative response to the social exclusion and ridicule that her most controversial feminist performances (such as Hammam and Bordello) have triggered—though these contentious works best exemplify her subversive strategies and gender politics. The second part of the exhibition’s title reflects EXPORT’s centerpiece, an installation of twenty-nine videos of performances from the 1970s to today. While this video complements other photographs that showcase the artist’s use of the female body for various ends and her questioning of the construction of gender, it also offers an opportunity for audiences to reevaluate her moving-image work and contemplate its role in her oeuvre.

She Who Tells a Story: Women Photographers from Iran and the Arab World
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115
August 27, 2013–January 12, 2014

The first North American museum survey of female photographers from the Arab world, She Who Tells a Story brings together more than one hundred images and two videos from twelve leading Iranian and Arab photographers, celebrating the fact that some of the most groundbreaking work in photography from Iran and the Arab world is produced by women. Ranging from fine art to photojournalism, the works “tell stories” about their makers and their contexts, shattering stereotypes about the Orient and about Arab women and casting contemporary life in these countries—especially that of women—under a fresh and challenging light. The exhibition adeptly balances the individual artists, the cultural and sociopolitical specificities of their contexts, and the photographic genres under scrutiny through such themes as “Deconstructing Orientalism,” “Constructing Identities,” New Documentary.” The artists in the show are: Jananne Al-Ani, Boushra Almutawakel, Gohar Dashti, Rana El Nemr, Lalla Essaydi, Shadi Ghadirian, Tanya Habjouqa, Rula Halawani, Nermine Hammam, Rania Matar, Shirin Neshat, and Newsha Tavakolian.

Nalini Malani, installation view of In Search of Vanished Blood, 2012, 6-channel video and shadow play with 5 rotating reverse painted Mylar cylinders, with sound, 11 mins., dimensions variable (artwork © Nalini Malani)

Nalini Malani: In Search of Vanished Blood
Galerie Lelong
528 West 26th Street, New York, NY 10001
September 6–October 26, 2013

A leading video artist in India, Nalini Malani debuts in New York with a projection work called In Search of Vanished Blood that distinguished her participation in last year’s Documenta. Video projections filter across five suspended, rotating Mylar cylinders featuring reverse painted imagery of Hindu and Western icons. The effect creates an immersive shadow play that is complicated by the different speeds of the moving images and further enhanced by sound. Taking its title from the 1965 Urdu poem “Lahu Ka Surag,” In Search of Vanished Blood is also inspired by the 1984 novel Cassandra by Christa Wolf and the 1910 book The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge by Rainer Maria Rilke. The artist, however, draws from history and her own experience as a refugee of the Partition of India, colonialism, and decolonization as she does from literary culture. These investigations form a fleeting narrative that synthesizes the themes that have always preoccupied her—violence, the feminine, and national identity—from an idiosyncratically “internationalist” perspective. The exhibition also includes paintings related to the installation yet hung in a separate room.

The Beginning Is Always Today: Contemporary Feminist Art in Scandinavia
SKMU Sørlandets Kunstmuseum
Skippergata 24 B, Kristiansand, Norway 4666
September 21, 2013–January 2004

Titled with a quote from the eighteenth-century British writer Mary Wollstonecraft and culminating SKMU’s centennial celebration of women’s suffrage in Norway, The Beginning Is Always Today is the first major museum survey of feminist art to be held in Scandinavia in twenty years. The exhibition brings together the work of forty artists from a region where, in spite of advances in sexual liberation and gender equality, feminism is often considered outdated and the feminist art scene remains little known. It also explores both the far-reaching social scope of contemporary feminism in the arts and the legacy of early feminist art’s strategies, while questioning the success of past battles for gender equality and equal rights. The exhibition is accompanied by a scholarly catalogue that promises to shed light on the recent developments of feminist art in Scandinavia, an illuminating sequel to the groundbreaking publication on Swedish art feminism, Konstfeminism (2005), and a recent exhibition on Norwegian art feminism held earlier this year, organized by artists included in this show.

The Beginning Is Always Today features the following artists: Lotta Antonsson, Elisabet Apelmo, Pia Arke, Bob Smith, Catti Brandelius, Peter Brandt, Nanna Debois Buhl, Kajsa Dahlberg, Ewa Einhorn, Åsa Elzén, Unn Fahlstrøm, Roxy Farhat, Fine Art Union, FRANK, Unni Gjertsen, Trine Mee Sook Gleerup, Jenny Grönvall, Annika von Hausswolff, High Heel Sisters, Leif Holmstrand, Maryam Jafri, Dorte Jelstrup, Jesper Just, Jane Jin Kaisen, Line Skywalker Karlström, Kvinder på Værtshus, Ane Lan (alias Eivind Reierstad), Lotte Konow Lund, Annika Lundgren, Jannicke Låker, Malmö Fria Kvinnouniversitet (MFK), Eline Mugaas, Ellen Nyman, Radikal pedagogik, Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen, Annica Karlsson Rixon, Joanna Rytel, Katya Sander, Mari Slaattelid, Lisa Strömbeck, Vibeke Tandberg, Lisa Vipola, and YES! Association/Föreningen JA!

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