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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.

April 2015

Nina Bunjavec: Out of the Fatherland
Art Gallery of Ontario
317 Dundas Street West, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5T 1G4
December 13, 2014–summer 2015

The Canadian graphic novelist Nina Bunjevac, in her work Fatherland, explores the influence of extremism and ideologies on her own family and personal history. Now on view at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Out of the Fatherland is a selection of drawings from Bunjevac’s tale of the patriarch of her family—a member of the radical nationalist group Freedom for Serbian Fatherland—as told through the memories of her mother, sister, and grandmother, among other relatives. In the painstakingly detailed panels Bunjevac reflects on her mother’s flight from her husband back to Yugoslavia with her two daughters in 1975, the history and political climate of Yugoslavia, and the death of her father while assembling a bomb in a Toronto garage two years later. Bunjevac was three at the time of her father’s death.

The graphic novel, as Bunjevac explains, is two parts in order to reflect the “duality presented in the book: maternal – paternal, nationalist – communist, old country – new country.” At times drawing directly from childhood photographs, the artist said it resembled detective work, where she would scan images, and through enlarging them discover hidden history. During an NPR interview Bunjevac revealed how an overexposed photograph of her grandmother, who was in an abusive relationship, once darkened, exposed a black eye, and subsequently the photographers desire to mask it. Bunjevac takes these frozen records of violence and forced smiles, and with her pen reveals sociopolitical issues at play on both a personal and national stage while maintaining her role as the neutral narrator. Fatherland follows Bunjevac’s debut graphic novel, Heartless (2012), which features Zorka, a depressed, alcoholic, chain-smoking antiheroine.

Lori Vrba: The Moth Wing Diaries
Daylight Project Space
121 West Margaret Lane, Hillsborough, NC 27278
March 27–May 22, 2015

The photographer Lori Vrba describes her work as “reeking Southern woman.” In her new exhibition at Daylight Project Space, and in her forthcoming book The Moth Wing Diaries (published by Daylight Books), Vrba edited photographs from four projects—Drunken Poet’s Dream, Piano Farm, Safekeeping, and My Grace Is Sufficient—into a monograph that addresses “themes of memory, providence, revival and dreams … [exploring a] sense of conflict and ultimate peace with the Southern terrain.”

Vrba’s work oscillates between dreamlike scenes and reflections of innocence and confrontational moments. In the photograph Orchid from My Grace is Sufficient, a woman stands naked, the frame dipping only so far as to expose a partial breast. She clenches an orchid in her hand. The model’s face and identity is obscured by what appears to be a sheer silken fabric, keeping the viewer from knowing her.

Vrba’s work has been compared to that of Sally Mann, a comparison, Vrba says, that almost made her cry. She admires and is influenced by Mann, but while both often photograph their children, the difference between the two artists, Vrba explains, is that her own work is entirely autobiographical. The landscapes she choses, either the Southern rolling hills or the body landscapes of her human models, is a means to explore internal tensions via her visual sensitivities and ultimately her femininity, intimacy, and vulnerability. Working in a traditional darkroom, Vrba has a love of printmaking that is reflected in the rich warmth and sultriness of her toned images. Unapologetic about her style, Vrba writes, “my work is inherently feminine … and has a traditionally beautiful aesthetic without apology.”

A larger selection of photographs from The Moth Wing Diaries will be on view at the Catherine Courturier Gallery in Houston, Texas, in June.

Cat Del Buono: Voices
Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami
Joan Lehman Building, 770 NE 125th Street, North Miami, FL 33161
April 14–19, 2015 (panel discussion on April 18 at 4:00 PM

The Miami artist Cat Del Buono is bringing her video installation Voices to the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami for a short exhibition and panel discussion. Voices, created with a New Works Grant from Baang & Burne Contemporary, is a multichannel video installation focusing on domestic violence. Each small video monitor exposes only the lips of an anonymous domestic violence survivor as she recounts her personal experience of abuse for the unknown audience. Upon entry into the installation each voice is heard simultaneously, creating a “symphony of unrecognizable words.” Not until the viewer stands intimately close to a single monitor does the story of that woman become clear.

Filmed in Miami, New York, Connecticut, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and Chicago, Voices brings stories from women of all ages and ethnicities to the viewer. “As a society, we must not allow the epidemic of domestic violence and those who are affected by it to remain an invisible and inaudible crowd of statistics,” Del Buono said in an exhibition statement.

Del Buono has a history of work aimed at raising awareness on women’s issues, as well as body image. In her work Beauty Box, during Art Basel Miami Beach in 2014, Del Buono and the Refemme team invited women and men into their “medical” tent to receive individualize beauty consultations. Instead of prescribing ways to improve, participants were complimented as part of the project’s “social interruption.”

Voices will cap its short stay at MoCA North Miami with a panel discussion moderated by Bonnie Berman of WLRNand featuring a victim’s advocate from the Lodge Miami, an abuse survivor, and Adrienne Von Lates from MoCA.

Anicka Yi: You Can Call Me F
The Kitchen
512 West 19th Street, New York, NY 10011
March 5–April 11, 2015

The Kitchen’s gallery is transformed into a forensic laboratory in which Anicka Yi’s You Can Call Me F proposes a parallel between society’s increasing paranoia—private and public—regarding hygiene and contagion with the longstanding patriarchal fear of feminism and strength of female networks.

During 2014–15, Yi (b. Seoul, 1971) has been developing new projects as a visiting artist at MIT Center for Art, Science, and Technology (CAST). For You Can Call Me F, the New York–based artist gathered biological information from one hundred women in order to cultivate the idea of the female figure as a viral pathogen that suffers external attempts to be both contained and neutralized.

Following her trilogy Divorce, Denial,and Death, in which Yi privileged scent, memory, and other aspects of the “avisual” over physical components, You Can Call Me F is based in the visual language of quarantine tents, a context that allows a translucent view, at the same time that intends to protect the fragile ecosystems within. Yi’s feminist approach focuses in the impact of the politics and subjectivities of smell on our empathic understanding of each other.

Curated by Lumi Tan, the project was possible by collaborative efforts from a hundred contributing women—some listed at the exhibition, some anonymous donors—as well as scientist and researchers, including: Tal Danino, MIT postdoc in synthetic biology; the biologist Patrick Hickey; and the provision of scent analysis and formulation by Air Variable, a scent fabrication company founded in 2014 by Sean Raspet that focuses exclusively on olfactory and chemistry-related art and design projects.

Camille Henrot: The Pale Fox
Westfälischer Kunstverein
Rothenburg 30, 48143 Münster, Germany
February 21–May 10, 2015

Westfälischer Kunstverein presents The Pale Fox, the first large-scale solo exhibition in Germany by the New York–based French artist Camille Henrot (b. 1978). This traveling exhibition (Münster, London, Copenhagen, and Paris) has been coproduced by four European institutions and was ranked by the Guardian as among the ten best art shows of the year.

The Pale Fox is borrowed character from an anthropological study, published by Griaule and Dieterlen in 1965, that reflects on the incorporation of several different cultures, as well as astronomical, mathematical, and philosophical systems of thought and beliefs in the West African Dogon tribe’s mythology. In this system, the character of the Pale Fox represents disorder and chaos not only as a transgression but also as a necessary condition for creativity. Based in a cycle from which accumulation and excess become productive again, and her interest in disorder as a fertile foundational principle for creative practice and formulation of knowledge, Henrot understands the fox as a potential model for our primitive selves, as well as a symptom of our digital age in which humans driven by curiosity and impatience.

Populating a highly constructed and meditative environment with images and objects, Henrot conceived this installation as a sort of a domestic atmosphere in which she orders and arranges more than four hundred photographs, bronze sculptures, books, watercolors, and drawings that were bought on eBay, borrowed from museums, or found or produced by Henrot. In the artist’s words, there is “an excess of principles” in The Pale Fox, a pathological and almost erotic “cataloguing psychosis” that allows the potential for disorder to return. Through this compulsive superimposition, the artist intends to make sense of our shared desire to understand the world intimately through the objects that surround us. A video produced by a seemingly hidden camera at the exhibition opening evidences audience engagement toward personal reconstructions of the multilayered environment of narratives.

Channa Horwitz: Counting in Eight, Moving by Color
KW Institute for Contemporary Art
Auguststrasse 69, 10117 Berlin, Germany
March 15–May 25, 2015

The KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin presents Counting in Eight, Moving by Color, the first comprehensive solo exhibition of Channa Horwitz (1932–2013). Many of the works on view, including a selection of construction drawings and documentary materials have never been shown before. The exhibition features representative works from all phases of Horwitz’s career, providing an introduction to her oeuvre and insight into key series of her creative process, such as the Language Series, Sonakinatography, Rhythms,and Structures. Some of her central works were reconstructed based on the plans that the artist made herself for her own future.

Departing from a system of notation based on the number eight, Horwitz developed a visual language in the late 1960s that achieved freedom based in the restriction to a few simple rules. Searching for a simple yet universal language, she created variations of complex systems resembling musical scores that allow movements to be visualized by means of color schemes and graphic scales. Since then, each of her works has been based on the numbers one through eight, while each number is assigned an specific color code, in this way designing structures that translate spatial-temporal relations into drawings, paintings, and multimedia sculptures.

The comprehensive exhibition at KW retraces the development that led Horwitz from figurative painting to conceptual abstraction, linking her creative practice to her contemporary minimal and conceptual artists. The display includes a large number of the compositions from “Sonakinatography” (her new term combining the Greek words for “sound,” “movement,” and “writing/recording”), which are perhaps the artist’s most well-known works to date. Despite her creative commitment, Horwitz lived and worked in complete seclusion from the midsixties until the 2000s, and her work was rarely exhibited. She seemed to have just begun her artistic career when she passed away at the age of 81. Sadly Horwitz did not live to see the overwhelming international recognition that her oeuvre gained at the last Venice Biennale.

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