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CWA Picks for April 2019

posted by CAA — Apr 02, 2019

CAA’s Committee on Women in the Arts selects the best in feminist art and scholarship to share with CAA members on a monthly basis. See the picks for April below.

Video still from Mary Maggic, Housewives Making Drugs, 2017, on view in Producing Futures—An Exhibition on Post-Cyber-Feminisms at the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst through May 12th. Courtesy the artist.


March 6 – April 26, 2019
Wright Gallery, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas

Taking the 2015 arrest and subsequent death of Sandra Bland as its starting point, this exhibition aims to give a platform to women of color to respond creatively to issues around family separation, law enforcement brutality, sexual assault, and violence. Multi-media artist Rabéa Ballin used neon to highlight to represent Sandra Bland’s case number, in Case Number 02-F-00151, bringing attention to identity which is typically lost, and dehumanized in the prison system. Rosine Kouamen’s richly hued Required Solidarity, a fabric work using prints from Cameroon with women and a woman letting a dove go in front of Africa, is embroidered with, according to the artist, “powerful words to emphasize the progress that still needs to happen to have a truly equal society, where women, especially women of color are protected by the law and not victims of it.” Ann Johnson’s two-sided glass quilt, The Narrative, displays the scripted police transcript of Sandra Bland’s traffic stop, and on the other, the traditional “North Star” pattern which guided numerous slaves to freedom, as well as the written names of women who lost their lives to violence or law enforcement, with repeated words, “she matters / say her name / say it” emphasizing the significance of the exhibit; “We must tell these stories,” Johnson writes in her statement, “She matters.” Other equally impactful work in the exhibit includes laser print transparency on wood by Regina Agu, plaster relief and mixed media silhouettes by Lovie Olivia, fabric cast aluminum and mixed media fabrics by Kaneem Smith, and linocuts by Monica Villarreal. The nontraditional multi-colored painted pedestals and walls create an apt, progressive atmosphere for this inspiring art.


March 22 – May 4, 2019
l’étrangère, London

l’étrangère gallery in London brings into conversation the works of Yelena Popova, Joanna Rajkowska, and Jan Eric Visser who critically respond to ecological concerns in the context of industrial capitalism, neo-liberalism and consumerism. It is an intimate exhibition, which encourages reflection  of the material legacy of Modernism. Rajkowska’s site-specific installation entitled Trafostation (2016) is introduced through a photographic documentation. The project, in Wrocław, Poland, turned a defunct 1930s transformer station into a living sculpture, which keeps evolving. The artist encouraged non-human organisms to take over the building and erode the concrete structure by growing plants and creating a new habitat. Rajkowska’s feminist ecological ethics is reflected in Popova’s practice. Called by the artist ‘Medieval Modernism’, it is concerned with the threshold states between the past and the future and the linear and cyclical modes of growth. Post-petrochemical Paintings (2016-ongoing) are made from mixed pigments from soil and wood ash collected by the artist during a number of walks in parks and forests, which are then grind according to medieval recipes. Jan Eric Visser makes sculptures from inorganic household garbage. The process, which he calls ‘Form Follows Garbage’, gives waste a new identity and emphasise the importance of valuing all matter. The artist is also engaged with issues concerning the post-industrial future, which is reflected in his use of two new innovative building materials called Translucent concrete, capable of degrading nitrogenoxides causing smog and Aquadyne, enabling the rooting of plants and vegetables.


February 16 – May 12, 2019
Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich

2017 marked the 20th anniversary of a meeting that took place at Documenta X entitled ‘The First Cyberfeminist International’. Issue that were raised then and revisited in a number of events that followed contributed to the emergence of a new movement branded as post-Cyberfeminism, a term coined in the early 1990s. The group exhibition Producing Futures—An Exhibition on Post-Cyber-Feminisms, including the works of artists such as VNS Matrix and Lynn Hershman Leeson, Wu Tsang,  Guan Xiao and Anna Uddenberg, Juliana Huxtable, Shana Moulton or Anicka Yi, among others, at the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst in Zurich explores feminist methods of engagement in the era of developing networked technologies and in the post-internet era, which, on the contrary to what was predicted in 1990s, apart from functioning as spaces of liberation and arguable self-empowerment, introduced disciplining structures reinforcing hierarchies and patriarchal systems of power. Artists involved in the show question the legacy of the cyberfeminist movement, its currency and relevance while working through the intersections between the body, technology and gender across the real and the virtual. Exhibited works engage with Donna Haraway’s proposed alternative model of knowledge formation called “SF,” an abbreviation for “science fiction” but also “speculative feminism,” a practice open to speculations and intellectual experiments where alternative visions of the future may emerge. A number of events are organised in parallel to the exhibition. The Revolution of Digital Languages or When Cyber turns to sound of Poetry. A Symposium on Post-Cyber-Feminisms, organised in cooperation with MAS in Curating, Zürcher Hochschule der Künste and the PhD in Practice in Curating on April 11th and 12th, further explores and engages with issues raised at the show.


March 7 – May 31, 2019
Sixteen Twenty-Eight Gallery, Cincinnati, Ohio

In celebration of Women’s History Month, Cincinnati’s 1628 Gallery devotes their spring exhibition to a juried exhibition featuring work by twenty local self-identifying women artists. The painting, collage, photography, sculpture, fiber art and more, reflect the complexity, challenge and passion of being a contemporary woman, as relayed in the title, referencing poem by Mary Oliver: “it’s a serious thing / just to be alive / on this fresh morning / in this broken world.”  Kim Flora’s mixed media collage, something about those volcanos, too emits the multifaceted, sometimes daunting, sometimes rich, living experience of women through the bright red and orange fiery hues above the torn, charcoal paper and what appears to be a section of a woman in etching, slight smile barely seen in the bottom corner, her body ripped at right. The over thirty other works surely emphasizes the rich breadth of media and perspectives by women in the area in this “curated workspace” in downtown Cincinnati.


March 9 – June 30, 2019
Ararat Gallery TAMA, Ararat, Victoria, Australia

Sera Waters is Adelaide based artist, arts writer and academic, who through her textile work engages with issues concerning boundaries and domesticity, and more specifically the concept of “home” in Australia in the aftermath of colonization. Those places of trauma and hauntings in settler colonial homes she calls “genealogical ghostscapes.” Going Round in Circles presented in Ararat Gallery TAMA explores the boundaries that have shaped Australian life since colonization. Waters calls them ‘geometric discipline’, suggesting structures of discomfort imposed on individuals aimed at disciplining them into docile subjects. She shares her frustration of ‘being stuck in a loop’ understood as repetitiveness and going round the same silencing and colonizing arguments and denials. Textile work, which is performed on the gridded warp and weft of fabric, is in itself an example of a discipline reinforcing social status of women as home makers confined to domestic spaces and their gendered roles often focused on practices of comforting and caring. Waters’s exercises disruptive agency, for example in Sampler for a Colonised land, 2018-2019, by working in repeated loops and rings within textiles’ squares and grids. She uses found materials such as pelts, needlework or wool, among others, to break the boundaries of colonizing structures and enable new patterns for shared togetherness.


From April 22, 2019
Tate Britain, London, UK

On April 22nd Tate Britain opens a new temporary display on its main floor as part of its commitment to increase the visibility of women in Tate’s galleries. It features approximately 60 works from Tate’s collection by around 30 women artists working across diverse media, including Mona Hatoum, Rachel Whiteread, Sarah Lucas, Monster Chetwynd, Susan Hiller and Bridget Riley, among others. The display focuses on narratives in British history from 1960 until the present day, covering a wide range of issues such as immigration, race, class struggle, Britain’s colonial past, sexual identity, feminism, AIDS activism and club culture. Particularly interesting is Black Audio Film Collective’s film Handsworth Songs (1986; directed by John Akomfrah and produced by Lina Gopaul), which was filmed during the 1985 riots in Handsworth and London. It raises not only issues specific to the riots and their cultural, social, and political context but also the continuity of some of those unresolved struggles reflecting on brutal policing and racism and their current insurrections. Tate’s promise to increase the visibility of women artists is reflected in its 2019 program, which features (across its galleries) other exhibitions and displays celebrating women.

Filed under: CWA Picks