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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.

March 2016

Lise Haller Baggesen: Mothernism
Contemporary Art Museum for Austin
Laguna Gloria, 3809 West 35th Street, Austin, TX
February 13–Mary 22, 2016

The Gatehouse Gallery at the Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park at Laguna Gloria presents Mothernism by Lise Haller Baggesen, a large-scale installation with a “nod to the bright pop of midcentury Danish interior designer Verner Panton as well as snoezelenrooms, a Dutch therapy technique from the 1970s.” The bright, cozy interior, with disco balls and plush purple carpet, regularly calls back visions from disco culture.

Baggesen describes the work as “a nomadic tent camp audio installation … dedicated to staking out and making speakable the ‘mother-shaped hole in contemporary art discourse.’” Published as a book in 2014, the installation previously came to life an audio-visual presentation in which Baggesen read essays as her alter ego, Queen Leeba, “an amalgam of Donna Summer and a proto-feminist, Scandinavian love goddess.” In this iteration, Mothernism is more like entering a painting, “inviting the viewer into her painting-as-installation, a figure/ground relationship so upended as to become participatory, or relational.”

The exhibition in Austin also contains newly commissioned work, The Mothernist’s Audio Guide to Laguna Gloria, celebrating the history of the Driscoll Villa at Laguna Gloria and the original designer and owner, Clara Driscoll, all through Baggesen’s artistic style, incorporating her knowledge of art history, pop culture, politics, and music.

Tip of Her Tongue: Xandra Ibarra: Nude Laughing, Cassils: The Powers That Be, Shirin Neshat: Possessed
The Broad
221 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA
April 2, 2016
8:30 PM

Downtown Los Angeles’s new art venue, the Broad, features Tip of Her Tongue, a three-part exhibition by the feminist artists Shirin Neshat, Xandra Ibarra, and Cassils, focusing on language and embodiment. Curated by Jennifer Doyle, professor of English at the University of California, Riverside, and a member of Human Resources Los Angeles, a collectively run art space dedicated to supporting performance and interdisciplinary modes of expression, the program contains a thirteen-minute video, Possessed (2001) by Neshat, and two live performances, Nude Laughing by Ibarra and The Powers That Be by Cassils.

Neshat’s video presents a woman roaming the streets of an Iranian city without her cador. The woman, played by Shohreh Aghdashloo, is ignored until she takes a public platform, where her “private suffering becomes public and political.” In Nude Laughing by Ibarra, the Oakland-based artist’s “engages the skin and skein of race.” Drawing inspiration from John Currin’s painting Laughing Nude, Ibarra herself is nude and encased in a nylon skin cocoon along with “white lady accoutrements … negotiating the simultaneous joys and pains of subjections, abjection, and personhood.” Rounding out the performances, the national premiere of The Powers That Be by Cassils is a collaborative effort with the fight choreographer Mark Steger. In the two-person fight, Cassils is left to spar alone with an invisible force. The performance will be lit by car headlights and performed in the Broad’s parking garage to a score by Kadet Kuhne, played across car stereos.

Tickets to the performances can be purchased on the Broad’s website.

Lecture: Julia Bryan-Wilson on Ruth Asawa and Louise Bourgeois
Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
2155 Center Street, Berkeley, CA
April 1, 2016
12:15 PM

Julia Bryan-Wilson, associate professor of modern and contemporary art at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author of the forthcoming book Art in the Making: From the Studio to Crowdsourcing (with Glenn Adamson), will present a lunchtime talk on Ruth Asawa and Louis Bourgeois, two artists currently on exhibition in Architecture of Life at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. Bryan-Wilson’s research interests include feminist and queer art, textile handicraft, and questions of materiality—all germane to different aspects of Asawa’s and Bourgeois’s work.

Architecture of Life, on view through May 29, is the inaugural exhibition in the museum’s new building. “It explores the ways that architecture—as concept, metaphor, and practice—illuminates various aspects of life experience: the nature of the self and psyche, the fundamental structures of reality, and the power of the imagination to reshape our world.” The exhibition has over two hundred works of art in various media, including scientific illustrations and architectural drawings.

Nancy Friedemann-Sánchez: Travelers and Settlers
Museum of Nebraska Art
2401 Central Avenue, Kearney, NE
January 9–April 3, 2016

The Museum of Nebraska Art presents Travelers and Settlers, a solo exhibition by the Colombian-born artist Nancy Friedemann-Sánchez. Curated by Teliza Rodriguez, this engaging and introspective installation is the artist’s exploration of the experience of identity, memory, and gender.

Friedemann-Sánchez’s installation comprises paintings, sculptures, and objects—a mixed-media environment inhabited by family heirlooms alongside carved wooden boats and black mirrorlike panels that hold pearled sconces. Here the artist creates a visual novel narrated in different voices interweaved through a synchronicity of dialogues, passages, punctuations, and silences about hybrid culture and ownership, narratives that portray spiritual and physical transit.

In her project statement the artistwrites, “Anchored in feminism, my art is infused by American and Colombian cultural forms that are dominant or subordinate.” Born in Colombia and having immigrated to the United States as a grown-up, she developed her bilingual art naturally. Travelers and Settlers unfolds in this way: her multinarrative on cultural memory, migration, and the pursuit of the American dream, a bicultural and transcultural experience speaks of difference and opposites.

As Robert Mahoney states in his extensive essay about Friedemann-Sánchez’s project: “As a whole, Travelers & Settlers read as an elegiac litany to sacred space reclaimed from the pushes and pulls of modern history, with the artist acting as guider of souls, urging us to gain a deeper appreciation of the unspoken realities of cultural translation, and, beyond all that, arrive safely again at our common humanity.”

Dafna Maimon: Modern Lives
Lilith Performance Studio
Bragegatan 15, Malmö, Sweden
March 10–12 and 17–19, 2016

Lilith Performance Studio in Malmö presents Modern Lives, a new performance by the Finnish/Israeli artist Dafna Maimon (b. 1982), who lives and works in Berlin. Her work, which includes performance, short film, video, texts, and sculpture, explores and engages with human narratives that challenge stereotypical constructions. Questioning the unclear limits of identity, the self, and the body, her performances expose the economy of affect-based ties, community, and collaboration on a grassroots level.

Modern Lives draws its starting point from the life of Ulrica Maimon, the artist’s mother, who created an alter ego for herself in the early 2000s: Mrs. Gyllendaal Af Berntas. Mrs. Gyllendaal, a 1860s goldsmith’s widow moved into Maimon’s apartment, which has been furnished in the corresponding period style. Throughout the years, Gyllendaal’s biography developed, along with her wardrobe and everyday tasks, inviting family and friends to participate in the roleplay.

For Modern Lives at Lilith Performance Studio, Maimon has built up a full-sized domestic arena for the widow. This performative space becomes a construction site where the “self” can be seen as a multilayered entity, an emotional landscape in motion, a surreal and melancholic world in which its inhabitants echo themselves as prisoners of their own condition. Throughout this piece, the artist fuses her mother’s playful inner fantasies with her own absurdist expression, choreographing and representing several different bodies as one.

Modern Lives is presented as an ongoing a repetitive structure during which audience members are encouraged to visit and stay for as long as they wish.

Maud Sulter: Syrcas
Autograph ABP
Rivington Place, London, EC2A 3BA
January 15–April 2, 2016

Autograph ABP proudly presents Syrcas,an installation of sixteen original photomontages, curated by Mark Sealy, of a seminal body of work created by Maud Sulter (1960–2008). Born in Glasgow of Scots and Ghanaian descent, Sulter was an active feminist in London communities in the early 1980s. She had worked with a women’s education group to program Check It, a groundbreaking two-week show at the Drill Hall that showcased black women’s creativity. Along her influential practice, Sulter continuously explored the presence of Africa in Europe in a variety of media: text, photography, sound, and performance. Her work as artist, writer, and curator questions the lack of representation of black women in the histories of art and photography and critically investigates the complex experiences of the African diaspora in European history and culture over the past six hundred years.

Created during the early 1990s, Syrcas is Sulter’s most intricate and layered body of work. Through the technique of photomontage, this series aims to revive the forgotten history of the genocide of black Europeans during the Holocaust. The installation includes a reproduction of Sulter’s poem “Blood Money.” Written in 1994, the poem was inspired by the German photographer August Sanders’s series of images of Circus Workers (1926–32) and represents a tormenting tale of a young African woman and her family caught up in war, dealing with the constant threat of discrimination, violence, and persecution.

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