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Committee on Women in the Arts Picks August 2016

posted by CAA — Aug 15, 2016

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.

August 2016

Danger Came Smiling: Feminist Art and Popular Music
Franklin Street Works
41 Franklin Street, Stamford, CT
July 23, 2016–January 1, 2017

Danger Came Smiling, the new exhibition at Franklin Street Works, a nonprofit contemporary-art space, unites works by artists who “use popular music as a medium, subject, and reference point for activist messages.” Curated by the feminist art and popular-music historian Maria Elena Buszek, the exhibition takes its name from the feminist punk band Ludus, among the first wave of punk in the 1970s.

The band, led by Linder Sterling, reflects the approaches of the exhibition, uniting the ties between visual artists and musicians. “By the late 1970s, visual artists like Robert Longo, Barbara Kruger, and Jean-Michel Basquiat started bands, and musicians like DEVO, Talking Heads, and Ann Magnuson treated their music as performance art, blurring the lines between popular music and visual art in ways that have profoundly affected contemporary art ever since.”

Exhibiting artists in Danger Came Smiling include Damali Abrams, Alice Bag, DISBAND, Wynne Greenwood (a.k.a. Tracy + the Plastics), Eleanor King, Ann Magnuson, Shizu Saldamando, and Xaviera Simmons. The Franklin Street Works café will also include an audio portion that serves as a “curated mixtape” of music that relates to the artists and history on display in the exhibition.

Senga Nengudi: Improvisational Gestures
Henry Art Gallery
University of Washington, 15th Ave NE and NE 41st St, Seattle, WA
July 16–October 9, 2016

Senga Nengudi’s newest exhibition at the Henry Art Gallery surveys sculpture, performance, and video work from the 1970s to the present. Trained as a dancer, Nengudi makes work that is inspired by ritualistic performances, including traditional African ceremonies, Japanese Kabuki theater, and the events of the 1960s, among other influences. Her art melds the body in movement with everyday materials, and her collaborations include performances with Maren Hassinger, Ulysses Jenkins, Franklin Parker, Houston Conwill, David Hammons, and Barbara McCullough.

Working in Los Angeles in the 1970s, Nengudi created work that engages with political movements, including Black Power feminism. Best known for her works R.S.V.P. (1975–present), the artist offers sculptures constructed from pantyhose that she manipulates and fills with found materials. “These works evoke the human body, its elasticity and durability, and invite viewers to imagine their own bodies stretching in unexpected ways.” The sculptures have been used by dancers, who have interacted with and entangled their bodies in the materials in performances.

Lili Reynaud Dewar: I Sing the Body Electric
Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis
3750 Washington Boulevard, Saint Louis, MO 63108
May 6–August 21, 2016

Taking its title from a Walt Whitman poem, I Sing the Body Electric features the French artist Lili Reynaud-Dewar dancing in the empty Arsenale and Central Pavilion after the fifty-sixth Venice Biennial in 2015. Covered in red body paint, Reynaud-Dewar galloped and sashayed through vast spaces, “her gestures recalling modern and folk dance as well as yoga poses.”

Reynaud-Dewar’s performances and installations evoke notions of femininity and the body in space, moving and still. The CAM installation features bright red carpet—strewn with silk scarves with images of the artist in various performative gestures, lending a further materiality to the video works.

“Her nude figure hovers between object and subject. Though appearing lighthearted and playful, the artist evokes disparate references ranging from the art historical, such as Henri Matisse’s dancers, to the sociopolitical, in the image of a bloodied body.” Still images are interposed in the video, suggesting themes of beauty and memento mori.

Lili Reynaud-Dewar: I Sing the Body Electric was organized by Kelly Shindler, associate curator for the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.

Lucy’s Iris. Women African Artists
Musée départemental d’art contemporain de Rochechouart
Place du Château, 87600 Rochechouart, France
July 8–December 15, 2016

The Rochechouart Museum of Contemporary Art presents Lucy’s Iris, an exhibition of works by twenty-five women artists from Africa. Initiated at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León in Spain, the exhibition offers a unique glimpse of the diversity and noteworthy originality of African women artists’ practice today.

The title of the exhibition refers to Lucy, who was for a long time thought to be the oldest ancestor of the human race and whose skeleton was discovered on Ethiopia by the palaeo-anthropologist Donald Johanson and a graduate student, Tom Gray, in 1974. Her body, dated to 3.2 million years ago, was considered by scientists as evidence of the missing link in human evolution, a theory that lasted several decades. Lucy, named after the Beatles song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” has became known in popular mythology as the Mother of Mankind, representing two underconsidered groups of humans, namely Africans and women.

In times when questions of feminism and female African artists are now rightly being raised ever more tenaciously, this exhibition project adopts Lucy’s point of view as its symbolic teenage grandmother of Mankind to underline the roles of twenty-five female artists who are putting Africa back on the art-world map. Artists included range from the Maghreb to South Africa, as well as across the vast African diaspora. Over forty works presented include painting, drawing, photography, and sculpture alongside video, performance, tapestry, and installation. The exhibitions represents diverse cultural and artistic contexts and unveils recurring themes, such as identity, body, environment, historical legacy, memory, postcolonialism, migration, the past, and the future.

Lucy’s Iris includes works by: Jane Alexander, Ghada Amer, Berry Bickle, Zoulikha Bouabdellah, Loulou Cherinet, Safaa Erruas, Pelagie Gbaguidi, Bouchra Khalili, Amal Kenawy, Kapwani Kiwanga, Nicene Kossentini, Mwangi Hutter, Michele Magema, Fatima Mazmouz, Julie Mehretu, Myriam Mihindou, Aida Muluneh, Wangechi Mutu, Otobong Nkanga, Tracey Rose, Berni Searle, Zineb Sedira, Sue Williamson, Billie Zangewa, and Amina Zoubir.

Ici Eviner: Who’s Inside You?
Istanbul Museum of Modern Art
Meclis-i Mebusan Cad. Liman İşletmeleri Sahası Antrepo No: 4, 34433 Karaköy/İstanbul, Turkey
June 22–October 23, 2016

The Istanbul Museum of Modern Art presents a retrospective by the pioneering Turkish artist İnci Eviner called Who’s Inside You? From drawing, painting, and sculpture to installation, photography, and video, the exhibition showcases the artist’s creative process from the 1980s to the present.

Born in Turkey in 1956, Eviner has developed a visual language that spans from art-historical allegories, iconographies, illustrations, and mythologies to contemporary ideograms and pictograms. In this retrospective, her projects are presented as interweaving past and present, appearing simultaneously contemporary and timeless. Her practice merges “the violence at the heart of the beautiful, the potential of the repressed, and the unmatched creativity of the unconscious” in a unique mode of expression that reflects on the different states of womanhood, gender, and the politics of identity in their collective, political, and sociocultural aspects. Here the artist defines womanhood as a field of limitless possibility that does not fit any single image or concept.

Eviner explores the gestures of women in everyday life, questioning the modes of representation judged appropriate for women and challenging the prohibitions that engender these representations. Who’s Inside You? brings together an inventory that spans close to forty years and reveals the rich and profound connections the artist establishes both with herself and with the unity of art, culture, history, nature, and the unconscious that makes us human.

Without Restraint: Works by Mexican Women Artists from the Daros Latinamerica Collection
Kunstmuseum Bern
Hodlerstrasse 8–12, 3000 Bern, Switzerland
June 3–October 23, 2016

Without Restraint presents together for the first time the contemporary Mexican women art collection from the Daros Latinamerica Collection in Zurich, Europe’s largest and most important collection of its kind. Multifaceted and thought provoking, the works provide an overview of the most characteristic features of the Mexican contemporary-art scene from a female point of view, evincing their protagonistic role in the recent decades.

Photographs, videos, objects, and installations take a subversive look at Mexico’s national identity. They reflect on dominant hierarchies of power, engage with the concept of national identity (mexicanidad), and challenge the traditional roles and social spaces assigned to women and minorities. As a whole, the exhibition offers the opportunity to reflect upon and contextualize women artists’ production in contemporary Mexico.

The collection includes the representation of internationally acclaimed women artists such as: Teresa Serrano (born 1936), Ximena Cuevas (born 1963), Betsabeé Romero (born 1963), Teresa Margolles (born 1963), Claudia Fernández (born 1965), Melanie Smith (born 1965), and Maruch Sántiz Gómez (born 1975). Life and death, the violated body, identity and migration, and nature and the metropolis are critically examined and discussed in their works.

The program includes the screening of a film series by Mexican women in front of and behind the camera. In addition, an illustrated catalogue with texts and interviews will be published by Hatje Cantz in German and English.


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