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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 2014

Vlasta Delimar: This Is I
Museum of Contemporary Art
Avenija Dubrovnik 17,
10 000, Zagreb, Croatia
May 15–August 24, 2014

The Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb presents the first retrospective exhibition of Vlasta Delimar, one of the most significant multimedia and performance Croatian artists to have emerged from the postconceptualist scene in former Yugoslavia and Croatia in the 1970s. Controversial for her nudity—the excessiveness of the female body in a patriarchal society like Croatia rather than the shock of her nakedness in and of itself—Delimar has systematically and consistently used her body since the 1970s, along with artists such as Tomislav Gotovac and Antonio Lauer, as a radical means to extend the limits of visual art and freedom, and to express herself. “The complexity of a personality cannot be expressed without the physical, nor without the spiritual. Giving oneself means that there is no holding back,” says the artist, who denies that her work is underpinned by femaleness or feminist politics, part and parcel with her polemic disassociation from any ideology. Delimar, however, has used her body in performances to examine the status of woman as a social and creative being, often in her multiple roles as housewife, mother, artist, lover, and aging woman, while in performances with other artists, including her ex-partner Zelijko Herman, she has examined the relationship between male and female.

Along with works that span the past thirty-five years of her career, the artist is taking part in the exhibition with two performances: Invitation to Socialize and My Temporary Home. The latter originates from a 1980s series of works called “communications,” in which the artist turned her attention to her audience and its emotions. As a continuation of this practice and presented on a mobile stage, and on a different location each day, Invitation to Socialize has the artist, accompanied by her guests, talking about her art and the development of the artist-audience relationship over the last thirty years. Evoking the diaristic aspect of her work, My Temporary Home is a work in progress, the construction of the artist’s temporary working and living space within the museum for the duration of the exhibition as a personal space exposed and shared with the audience.

Marisol: Sculptures and Works on Paper
Memphis Brooks Museum of Art
1934 Poplar Avenue, Memphis, TN 38104
June 14–September 7, 2014

Memphis Brooks Museum of Art presents a much-awaited survey of the life and work of Marisol, one of the rare female stars of the sixties art scene in New York—the first girl with glamor, as once called by Andy Warhol, whose 1964 exhibition at Stable Gallery drew more than two thousand visitors per day. Best known for her stints of silence, or silent masquerades at the Club with which, as Carolee Schneemann remembers, she castigated the masculinism of the Abstract Expressionist world, and for her obsessive use of casts of her face and other body parts in sculptures that articulate feminist masquerades of femininity, Marisol is indeed one of the most important yet still understudied sculptors to emerge in late 1950s New York as much for the innovativeness of her multimedia assemblage sculptures (that combined painting, drawing, collage, traditional sculpting techniques, and found objects) as for the broad spectrum of her personal and political concerns that underpin her thematography, including its humor.

Born Maria Sol Escobar to Venezuelan parents in Paris, Marisol took her first art lessons in Los Angeles, where she had moved with her father when she was sixteen years old, upon the death of her mother in 1941. In 1949 she moved to Paris to study art at the École des Beaux-Arts. Disappointed by the institution’s conservatism, Marisol moved to New York in 1950 to study painting at the Art Students League, becoming a student of Hans Hoffmann and a member of the Abstract Expressionist and Beat circles before she decidedly turned to sculpture, or better yet its idiosyncratic reinvention that she begun in 1953.

Inspired by Marisol’s mixed-media sculpture The Family, which was commissioned by the Brooks Museum in 1969, and in hopes of reestablishing Marisol as a major figure in postwar American art, the exhibition brings together diverse works that range in date from 1955 to 1998 and elucidate Marisol’s artistic evolution, both in terms of subject matter and materials by including examples of the various media Marisol used (bronze casting, wood carving, assemblage, plaster casts, terracotta, drawing, and printmaking) as well as the many themes and subjects she considered. Among the themes explored in the exhibition and the accompanying catalogue are Marisol’s diverse influences (Neo-Dada, Surrealism, American and Latin American folk art, Precolumbian art, etc.); her relationship to postwar art and cultural movements (Pop, Minimalism, and feminism); her experimentation with materials; her extensive use of portraiture; her politically charged sculptures; and her identity as a female artist who was born in Paris of Venezuelan parents and lived most of her life in New York City.

After Our Bodies Meet: From Resistance to Potentiality
Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art
26 Wooster Street, New York, NY 10013
June 5–August 3, 2014

Part of the All Out Arts Fresh Fruit Festival and curated by Alexis Heller, the exhibition After Our Bodies Meet: From Resistance to Potentiality surveys the legacy of feminist art on the diverse ways contemporary transcultural queer artists represent the body to challenge past and present forms of oppression and envision a queer future. Bridging these historic and contemporary endeavors the exhibition honors the pioneers of gender-conscious art and highlights the evolution and plurality of feminist art in light of representations of queer bodies that subvert any binary understanding of gender. Featuring works that unsettle the mythologies and ideals surrounding lesbian and transgender bodies and foreground queer bodies obscured by invisibility by Laura Aguilar, Cathy Cade, Heather Cassils, Tee A. Corinne, Chitra Ganesh, Allyson Mitchell, Zanele Muholi, Catherine Opie, Sophia Wallace, and Chris E. Vargas, After Our Bodies Meet demonstrates how feminist artists have repositioned the political potential of activism into art, allowing critiques of the past to provide space for imagining new queer possibilities, while showcasing a diversity of practices and concerns.

Seeking to document and empower the burgeoning lesbian feminist community, for instance, works by Corinne and Cade emphasize the female body’s capacity for love, agency, and pleasure outside the heterosexual imagination. The South African artist and “visual activist” Muholi also preserves marginalized histories, bringing attention to underrepresented populations of black lesbian and transgender individuals, as well as the targeted violence that threatens their existence. For her ongoing series Faces and Phases, Muholi’s photographic portraits archive the diversity and resilience of her black queer community in South Africa and abroad, while Isilumo siyaluma (2006–11), a series of kaleidoscopic digital collages of menstrual blood stains, memorializes the rape and murder of black lesbians in South Africa. Cassils’s performance Becoming an Image (2012) also evokes the brutalization of queer bodies, as the artist’s mixed-martial-arts blows are imprinted onto a 1,500-pound block of clay. Wallace’s ongoing mixed-media project CLITERACY exposes the irony of society’s obsession with and ignorance of female sexuality. Inspired by Indian comic books, Hindu mythology, and American science fiction, Ganesh makes digital collages that draw from disparate materials and cultural sources to offer alternate narratives of female sexuality and power.

Teresa Margolles: La búsqueda
Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst
Limmatstrasse 270, CH-8005, Zürich, Switzerland
May 24–August 17, 2014

The Migros Museum of Zurich presents La Busqueda, a display of work by the Mexican artist Teresa Margolles. This exhibition is the first institutional solo exhibition in Switzerland by the 2012 Prince Claus Laureate. Dealing with themes such as social exclusion, violence, and death, Margolles (b. 1963, Culiacán) addresses Ciudad Juárez as a place of crime. The artist examines the extreme violence in this northern Mexican border city where a mysterious series of female homicides has been ongoing since the early 1990s. Through a minimalist approach, Margolles’s works focus on how traces of these brutal crimes shape people’s everyday lives.

Since the early 1990s, Margolles has worked in the forensic medicine department of an autopsy facility in Mexico City, to which anonymous victims of violent crime are brought on a daily basis. By translating such vestiges into an exhibition space, the artist develops interplay between charged architectural fragments and displaced sounds within a grim realism. The mostly sculptural exhibition, curated by Rafael Gygax, includes two powerful installations/interventions—La busqueda (The Search) from 2014 and Mesa y dos bancos (Table and Two Benches) from 2013—that bring into this exhibition space sound, materials, and tragic remains from the Mexican border of Ciudad Juarez. Through her works, Margolles investigate how current events affect individual lives, evidencing the impermanence of things, humans and their relationships, while also suggests the urgency to develop new paths toward a concrete form of solidarity.

Chicago in L.A.: Judy Chicago’s Early Work, 1963–74
Brooklyn Museum
Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Herstory Gallery, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11238-6052
April 4–September 28, 2014

Surrounding Judy Chicago’s iconic installation The Dinner Party at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art is the exhibition Chicago in L.A.: Judy Chicago’s Early Work, 1963–74, a comprehensive survey of the artist’s innovative explorations of painting, sculpture, and environmental performance that make up a less-familiar but highly significant body of early works.

When living in Los Angeles, Chicago was a participant in Finish Fetish. The growing industrialization of the West Coast influenced many artists to produce objects that were completely handcrafted and yet, with bright colors and high-gloss form of Minimalism, seemed to be machine-made. Chicago in L.A. includes approximately sixty paintings and sculptures made with sprayed acrylic lacquer, objects, drawings, prints, photographs, videos, and documentation of performances that span from 1963 to 1974, affirming the artist’s importance as a pioneer in the Californian art scene.

A series called The Rejection Quintet may serve as a meaningful introduction to The Dinner Party. In this series, Chicago exposes explicit vulvar drawings along an emotional handwritten journal of rejection and self-acceptance. Encouraged by her friend, the feminist art critic Lucy R. Lippard, Chicago dealt with her continuing frustration with trying to address female experience while seeking recognition and respect from male colleagues. Most significantly, The Rejection Quintet, within the rich and complex oeuvre of Chicago, invites viewers to reexamine The Dinner Party as a work that emerged from decades of artistic experimentation, not only technically and aesthetically, but also within the making and raising of a feminist community.

A Voice of One’s Own: On Women’s Fight for Suffrage and Human Recognition
Malmö Konstmuseum
Malmöhusvägen 6, 201 24, Malmö, Sweden
June 6–September 7, 2014

This summer, Malmö Konstmuseum and Moderna Museet Malmö have collaborated to present A Voice of One’s Own: On Women’s Fight for Suffrage and Human Recognition, a celebration of women’ fight and achievements for suffrage and a gender-equal society that was central to the women’s own manifestation at the Baltic Exhibition in Malmö a hundred years ago. In the summer of 1914, visitors came to see an art-and-industry fair that portrayed an upbeat view of future and progress. The fair also featured the Swedish Women’s Exhibition, where discussions were held not only about the situation of Swedish women, but also with the participation of several national women’s organizations. The term “feminist” came into use in Europe in the 1890s, as the women’s movement became more organized through discussion and debate clubs. Women artists’ work was exhibited, and women authors’ books were available in the library. Then, women’ voting was an urgent issue. Society was on the threshold of radical change and the Nordic countries were among the first to implement votes for women.

The exhibition includes the participation of Petra Bauer, Catti Brandelius, Kajsa Dahlberg, Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg, Roxy Farhat in collaboration with Shaza Albatal, and Grand Domestic Revolution Library/Casco. Some artists have looked back in history at the reform process that promoted women’s political, economic, and social rights since the local event in 1914, while others have focused in examining current issues relating the insertion for women in today’s society. Organized by Marika Reterswärd, Cecilia Widenheim, and Joa Ljungber, A Voice of One’s Own evidences current feminist discussions and is permeated by methods and strategies of organization that women communities have developed for a century toward a claim for their share of the public sphere.

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