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.

January 2014

Jennifer Yorke, Pretty Little Lies, 2012, collage and acrylic on paper, 30 x 22 in. (artwork © Jennifer Yorke)

Jennifer Yorke: Twerks on Paper
Packer Schopf Gallery
942 West Lake Street, Chicago, IL 60607
January 10–February 15, 2014

Fashion! Food! Sex! Death! Through her Twerks on Paper, Jennifer Yorke laughs at them all. In her collages, the failures and flaws of the body assert themselves over the seductive veneer of beauty and propriety created by both costume and custom. Despite our best efforts to create controlled, socially appropriate selves, our bodies are often filled with unruly desires and only imperfectly contain the sticky, the smelly, and the wet. Yorke demonstrates the absurdity of our efforts at control through humor—and the humors that seep and spurt out of her fashionable figures. She conflates fashion’s celebration and distortion of the body with our more day-to-day experience of its flaws, failures, and expellants, encouraging us to shake our asses at them.

Faith Wilding: Fearful Symmetries
Three Walls
119 North Peoria Street, No. 2C, Chicago, IL 60607
January 10–February 22, 2014

Although best known for her contribution to Womanhouse—the 1972 performance Waiting—and for her role in the formation of the first Feminist Art Program in Fresno and Cal Arts, Faith Wilding remains largely understudied. As the first major retrospective of her work, Fearful Symmetries spans forty years and brings together and contextualizes the studio practice—especially works on paper—that accompanies Wilding’s performative work, illuminating the allegorical imagery that underpins her feminism and the centrality of transformation and emergence in its articulation. As such the exhibition highlights the theme of becoming—as transformative event and threshold to transfiguration—as a state of in-between-ness, evoked by iconographic motifs such as leaves, the chrysalis, hybrid beings, or “waiting” itself.

Alongside the exhibition is a curated archive featuring Wilding’s work with the collaborative research and performance group subRosa; rare videos of performances made throughout her career; and papers and publications dating from her participation in the feminist art movement in the 1970s. A series of special events will punctuate the exhibition, including a performance and discussion with Irina Aristarkhova on January 9.

Nora Schultz, image from Parrottree—Building for Bigger Than Real, 2013 (artwork © Nora Schultz)

Nora Schultz: Parrottree—Building for Bigger Than Real
Renaissance Society
University of Chicago, 5811 South Ellis Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637
January 12–February 23, 2014

The Renaissance Society presents the first museum solo exhibition of Nora Schultz, a Berlin-based artist who produces sculptural installations that double as analogue printing studios. Her primary materials are discarded objects scavenged from her studio and the site of her exhibitions, often in the form of metal bars and sheets, grates, tubes, and plastics. Schultz repurposes this refuse into sculptural objects, as well as contact printing devices, stencils, and even simple rotary presses with which she prints (often as public performance) abstractions scaled from the intimate to the monumental, exhibited individually or in accumulating heaps. Deeply engaged with material and process, Schultz’s installations are themselves, at times, engines of ongoing artistic creation.

Hannah Höch
Whitechapel Gallery
77-82 Whitechapel High St, London E1 7QX, United Kingdom
January 15–March 23, 2014

The Whitechapel Gallery presents the first major UK exhibition of the influential German artist Hannah Höch (1889–1978), an important member of the Berlin Dada movement and a pioneer in collage. Splicing together images taken from popular magazines, illustrated journals, and fashion publications, Höch created a humorous and moving commentary on society, in particular questioning traditional gender and racial stereotypes, during a time of tremendous social change. She also established collage as a key medium for satire with extraordinary skill and beauty.

Nargess Hashemi: The Pleasure in Boredom
Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde
Street 8, Alserkal Avenue, Unit 17, Al Quoz 1, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
January 12–February 27, 2014

Nargess Hashemi (b. 1979, Tehran) takes a new direction in her latest show, deviating from largely figurative works centering on themes of domesticity and everyday life and moving in a surprising new trajectory. The Pleasure in Boredom charts Hashemi’s process of developing over ten years worth of experimentation on graph paper. Doodling in notebooks from a young age, the artist has made the practice somewhat of a lifelong obsession. Using only the most basic materials, Hashemi adopts a commonly unfocused and subliminal practice and refines it, resulting in vibrant artworks of great complexity. The title of the exhibition references an essay by E. H. Gombrich, in which the art historian examined the psychology behind the act of doodling and explored its artistic merit. A doodle by its very nature is a subconscious impulse, something that we are naturally compelled to do in a dreamlike, absentminded state. In her new series, Hashemi has evolved this instinctual act into artistic endeavors of great structure and precision.

Salla Tykkä: The Palace
Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art
Gateshead Quays, South Shore Road, Gateshead, NE8 3BA, United Kingdom
November 22, 2013–March 2, 2014

The Finnish artist Salla Tykkä (b. Helsinki, 1973) is known for photographs and videos with historically and psychologically charged narratives. Her dramatically edited footage plays with cinematic structures and is often set to familiar, grandiose film scores. Since 2008, Tykkä has been completing a trilogy of films: Victoria (2008), Airs above the Ground (2010), and, most recently, Giant (2013), which was partially commissioned by the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art. The Palace comprises an installation featuring all three works and is the first exhibition to bring them together. It also marks the international premiere of Giant.

Victoria is a documentation of the nightly blossoming of the giant water lily; a ten-minute time-lapse of the plant’s life cycle as it unfurls its petals in the dark. The lily blossoms over two nights; the first night it is white and when it opens for a second time a day later, its color has changed to a red hue. European explorers brought Victoria amazonica and Victoria cruziana from South America to Europe and named them after Queen Victoria. Tykkä offers the plant as a symbol of colonial power and domination in the nineteenth century.

Chryssa Romanos, Labyrinth, 1965, collage on canvas, 55 x 65 cm (artwork © Chryssa Romanos)

Chryssa Romanos
The Breeder
45 Iasonos St, GR 10436, Athens, Greece
January 17–February 17, 2014

Focusing on Chryssa Romanos’s 1960s collage on canvas and her recent décollage on Plexiglas, this exhibition surveys the practice of this outstanding Greek artist—a vanguard member of the Greek diaspora in Paris from the 1960s to the 1980s and a neglected female participant in intersecting circles of the Parisian avant-garde—whose reputation has suffered from the usual predicament of gender, including the overshadowing of her work from that of her life partner, the celebrated artist Nikos Kessanlis.

Romanos began as an abstract painter in Greece, rebelling against both the academic realism favored by the art establishment and the social realism propagated by the communist party, though she was an active member of it. In the early sixties she moved to Paris and became affiliated, along with Nikos, with intersecting circles of the Parisian avant-garde, especially those evolving around the critic Pierre Restany. Reconsidering the communicative role of her art, she rediscovered herself in 1964 as a Pop collagist, turning to what Restany called the “sociological reality”—yet through a surfeit of print media rather than the everyday objects of “urban folklore”—in order to launch a staunch critique of societal injustice, industrialization and the society of spectacle, as put by Kalliopi Minioudaki in the exhibition Power Up: Female Pop Art (at the Vienna Kunsthalle in 2010), where she mapped Romanos’s work in the context of Pop.

In several collages, which constitute the first part of this exhibition at the Breeder, Romanos “explicitly criticized consumerism, exposing its inextricability with vital engines of capitalism, such as war. In her Reportage series, for instance, she unmasked the fallacies of capitalist democracy and the industries that supported its domestic myths in the years of decolonization struggles and the Vietnam War—by mimicking the symbiosis of advertising and photojournalism in print media, while sarcastically miscaptioning scenes of famine or war with alluring advertising messages and unfit captions. In her various versions of the Luna Parc (1965) series—structured as a vicious shooting gallery—the consumerist cornucopia of the American Dream, promised to the Cold War era consumer by means of the consumer goods that are pasted around targets—is suggestively predicated upon the extinction of humanity, whether by its shooting, or its rendering into mass. This is at least suggested by the anthropocentric collages that constitute the targets.” Such signature collages were well received when exhibited in Charlottenburg, West Berlin, in 1965 and at the São Paolo Biennial in 1967. In response, however, to a studio visit by Restany—who demanded she substitute clippings with found objects as a true Nouveau Realist would do—Romanos resolutely quit what she considered, by her account, as the most important step in her career: her political Pop.

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