CAA News Today

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.

November 2014

Ciara Phillips: Turner Prize Nominee
Tate Britain
Millbank, London SW1P 4RG, United Kingdom
September 30, 2014–January 4, 2015

Ciara Phillips has been nominated for the Turner Prize 2014. The nomination was based on her solo exhibition presented at the Showroom, London. Workshop was an installation made up of multiple screen prints on newsprint and large-scale works on cotton set as a two-month temporary print studio within the gallery space over the course of the exhibition. Along this project, Phillips collaborated with invited artists, designers, and local women’s groups to produce new screen prints. Guests contributed to Workshop their diverse knowledge and experiences of working collectively. These collaborations initiated conversations and actions that aren’t contained within specific disciplines of art, community action, design, or activism, leaving the workshop/exhibition structure open for development as the project progresses.

By making prints in these new collaborative groupings, Phillips explores the potential of “making together” as a way of negotiating ideas and generating discussions around experimental and wider uses of print. Her long-term commitment to collaborative production underpins her expansive printing practice that makes use of screen printing, wall drawing, and photography to create context-specific installations.

Phillips (born in Canada, 1976) lives and works in Glasgow. She acknowledges having been inspired by Corita Kent in her collaborative approach to art practice. Corita Kent (a.k.a. Sister Mary Corita, 1918–1986) was a pioneering artist, educator, and activist who reinterpreted the advertising slogans and imagery of 1960s consumer culture.

A piece to be highlighted from the exhibition is New Things to Be Discussed (2014), a circular booth installation including screen prints on paper and audio recording based on her conversations with fellow artists and with Justice for Domestic Workers, a self-organized group of migrant domestic workers who work in private houses in the United Kingdom. Engagements and discussions among J4DW, artists, curators, and curatorial projects have sought to address making domestic work visible in British society and the employment of artistic and aesthetic strategies to this end.

Someday Is Now: The Art of Corita Kent
Artis—Naples, Baker Museum
5833 Pelican Bay Boulevard, Naples, FL 34108
September 27, 2014–January 4, 2015

The Baker Museum presents Someday Is Now: The Art of Corita Kent. Corita Kent (Iowa, 1918–Boston, 1986), also known as Sister Mary Corita, was a pioneering Los Angeles–based artist, designer, educator, and activist. She has experimented in printmaking, producing a groundbreaking body of work that combines faith, activism, and teaching with messages of acceptance and hope. Through vibrant, Pop-inspired prints, Corita posed philosophical questions about racism, war, poverty, and religion through work that has been described as saucy, funny, and yet deeply devotional.

Mixing street signs, scripture, poetry, philosophy, advertising, and pop-song lyrics, Corita developed her own version of Pop art. Exploring printmaking as a collaborative and popular medium to communicate with the world, her bright and bold imagery, along provocative texts drawn from a range of secular and religious sources, were widely disseminated as billboards, book jackets, illustrations, and posters.

As a Sister of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Corita taught at the Art Department at Immaculate Heart College from 1947 through 1968. She lectured extensively and appeared on television and radio talk shows across the country and on the cover of Newsweek in 1967. As an educator, Corita inspired her students and international artists for many generations (See Ciara Phillips at Turner Prize 2014) to discover new ways of experiencing the world and search for revelations in the everyday. Sister Mary Corita left her order in 1968 and was thereafter known as Corita Kent. She continued to make art, producing prints and carrying out many commissions. In 1985 Kent designed the celebrated Love stamp for the US Postal Service.

Her passionate creative practice made us aware that she walked a bumpy road after the Vatican criticized her work has been infected by “radical feminism.” Corita believed that “women’s liberation is the liberation of the feminine in the man and the masculine in the woman.”

22 Women: A Project by Alfredo Jaar
SKMU Sørlandets Kunstmuseum
Skippergata 24B, Kristiansand, Norway
October 10, 2014–February 15, 2015

SKMU Sørlandets Kunstmuseum presents 22 Women, a project by Alfredo Jaar (b. 1956, Santiago de Chile) that casts light on brave activists women who, despite being active in the world today, remain unknown to the wider public.

Jaar is an international artist, architect, and filmmaker whose work explores art’s possibilities for conveying perceptions and interpretations of real historical events and situations. His uncompromising, innovative, and captivating large installations explore and discuss themes such as war, corruption, social injustice, and imbalances in global power structures. Reacting to specific events in real life, Jaar examines and reflects on the position that art can and should have in a global social debate for sharing opinions in ways that mass media and politics cannot.

Jaar’s 22 Women follows Three Women (2010), a project that cast light on Graça Machel, Ela Bhatt, and Aung San Suu Kyi. The new installation means the first iteration of Jaar’s ongoing project that aims to shine light on the life and work of at least one hundred remarkable women. Here, twenty-two minuscule portraits are illuminated by a multitude of light projectors. Spotlighting on the portraits of 22 Women, Jaar acknowledge their invisibility, while their stories are told in a separate booklet accompanying the exhibition. Amira Hass (Israel/Palestine), Bertha Oliva (Honduras), Camila Vallejo (Chile), Hawa Abdi (Somalia), Jenni Williams (Zimbabwe), Kalpona Akhter (Bangladesh), Lina Ben Mhenni (Tunisia), Lydia Cacho (Mexico), Mahnaz Mohammadi (Iran), Malalai Joya (Afghanistan), Mathilde Muhindo (Democratic Republic of the Congo), Nawal El Saadawi (Egypt), Ni Yulan (China), Olayinka Koso-Thomas (Nigeria/Sierra Leone), Razan Zaitouneh (Syria), Sandra Gomes Melo (Brazil), Susan Burton (United States), Svetlana Gannushkina (Russia), Ta Phong Tan (Vietnam), Tetyana Chornovol (Ukraine), Vandana Shiva (India), and Zainab Alkhawaja (Bahrain) are outstandingly achieved women whose crucial work is underrecognized, suppressed, or ignored. Jaar’s project aims to pay homage to these women who are models of resistance that fight human-rights violations, sexual violence, censorship, ethnic persecution, and social injustice.

Jaar’s 22 Women is following up on a series of exhibitions at SKMU that focus on women, equality, and women rights, looking critically at the museum collection and how it represents women.

Judith Lauand: Brazilian Modernist, 1950s–2000s
Driscoll Babcock Galleries
525 West 25th Street, New York, NY 10001
October 23–December 20, 2014

Judith Lauand:Brazilian Modernist, 1950s–2000s is the first New York solo exhibition of one of the most celebrated—and yet overlooked in North America—Brazilian artists of the postwar era. Lauand developed her formative career in São Paulo, alongside prolific debates and investigations into the critical definitions of the planar surface and abstraction, and is justifiably known as the “first lady of Concretism.” Seeking to illuminate and establish Lauand’s critical significance as a pioneer of modernism and qualifying as a mini survey, this exhibition brings together over thirty works that span the critical periods of Lauand’s career from the 1950s to 2007; it is accompanied a fully illustrated book by the curator of the show, the art historian Aliza Edelman, that investigates the artist’s prolific achievements in postwar abstraction, geometry, and feminism.

As put by Edelman, Lauand’s “modernist geometric abstractions actively unhinge the rational and seemingly impersonal grid of Concretism. Her objective, mathematical, and precise constructions—primary components of Arte Concreta—introduced new geometries aligned with contemporary ideas on space, time, and matter. Lauand was the only female artist invited to join Grupo Ruptura, an artist group initially formed in São Paulo in 1952, and her successful demonstration of postwar Concretism led in the following decades to further experimentations, with figural and popular representation, assemblage, and optical color contrasts. Thus, Lauand successfully negotiated the development of Brazilian avant-garde tendencies after World War II—including the influence and reception of Pop art and New Figuration in the 1960s and 1970s, as well as the political disruption initiated during the military dictatorship—continually buttressing Concretism’s critical ideas while formulating her own meaningful intersections with notions of rupture.”

Works from her early groundbreaking work in the exhibition include Concreto 88, Acervo 186 (1957), a gouache on paper that evokes the photographically inspired architectural façades in Geraldo de Barros’s Fotoformas (Photoforms) and exemplifies the way in which “horizontal bands across shifting chains that link positive and negative space rupture the Concrete grid with rhythmic motion and the perception of subtle contradictions.” Conversely, Sem título (Untitled) (2007) illustrates the diverse ways in which Lauand continues exploring her geometric systems of the 1960s by reworking her principle set of shapes and networks and using color to expand her vision of infinite constructions and her exploration of the endless permutations of structure.
Lauand had her first solo exhibition after being a gallery monitor in the second Bienal de São Paulo in 1953–54. She has participated in significant group shows, including the III Bienal de São Paulo in 1955; the I Exposição Nacional de Arte Concreta (First National Exhibition of Concrete Art) in 1956; and the international retrospective on Concretism, Konkrete Kunst: 50 Jahre Entwicklung (Concrete Art: 50 Years of Development), organized by Max Bill in Zurich in 1960. A recipient of multiple prestigious awards and an exhibitor in numerous editions of the Bienal de São Paulo, as well as the Salão Nacional de Arte Moderna, Lauand was the subject of a major retrospective, Judith Lauand: Experiências (Judith Lauand: Experiences), at the Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo in 2011.

Aikaterini Gegisian: Is This Why I Cannot Tell Lies?
107 Essex Road, London N1 2SL United Kingdom
November 19–December 13, 2014

Is This Why I Cannot Tell Lies? is the first solo exhibition in London of work by the multimedia Greek Armenian artist Aikaterini Gegisian. Although she is better known for her films, including the recent Pink City (2014), filmed in Yerevan and exploring gendered divisions in the experience of the city, this exhibition brings together new samples of her extensive collage practice along with photographs and a sound installation based on a dream diary and a textbook on how to become a male escort.

Gegisian’s work is largely concerned with challenging received notions of cultural and sexual identity, as manifested in her multifaceted and ongoing investigation of the identity of Ottoman Woman. Formally structured around the idea of movement and the cinematic device of the jump cut, the collages featured in this show are assembled from heterogeneous material, such as Soviet and Western photo albums and magazines, and feature incongruous images, such as female gymnasts and space missions, scientific illustrations of Eisenstein’s theory of relativity, flower patterns, and home interiors. As such, the works reflect upon female sexuality by referencing a set of spaces in which ideological and gender conflicts are played out, from the outer space to the female body, from the natural world to the space of dream. Repossessing photographic representations of female gymnasts that foreground the highly disciplined form of their activity, and juxtaposing them with photographs of space rockets, scientific illustrations, botanical imagery, and pornographic material, Gegisian conjurs the radical potential of the jump cut in order to suggest the possibility of transformation. She negotiates contrasting ideologies that have restricted female imagination to ignite release from conventional narratives and eventually questions how women are positioned—literally and symbolically—in the space of the future by deconstructing and articulating female sexuality.

Represented byKalfayan Galleriesin Greece, Gegisianstudied at the University of Brighton and Chelsea College of Art and Design and holds a PhD from the University of Westminster in London (2014). She is currently visiting research scholar-artist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She has participated in numerous group shows—the most recent include Re-Tracing the Land at NARS Foundation in Brooklyn (2014); Visualising the Ottoman City at Peltz Gallery at Birkbeck College in London (2014); and Sensible Action at Vladikafkaz Fine Arts Museum in North Ossetia, Russia (2013)—and in international residencies in Russia, Armenia, Egypt, and Turkey. Gegesian’s films have been screened in several film festivals around the world, and her work is represented in public collections, such as the National Centre of Contemporary Art (North Ossetia), the State Museum of Contemporary Art (Thessaloniki), and the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, as well as in many private collections in Greece.

Sonia Delaunay: Les Couleurs de l’Abstraction
Musée d’art de la ville de Paris
11 avenue du Président Wilson, 75116 Paris, France
October 17 2014–February 22 2015

Highlighting the agelessness of Sonia Delaunay’s work that, while always of its time, remains fresh and relevant in its formal explorations and quest for a synthesis of the arts even today, this touring survey (curated by Anne Montfort et Cécile Godefroy) is surprisingly the first major retrospective of the artist in Paris since 1967. Bringing together three re-created environments and over four hundred works that include paintings, wall decorations, gouaches, prints, fashion items, and textiles, Les Couleurs de l’Abstraction traces the artist’s evolution since the beginning of the twentieth century to the late 1970s.

As aptly put in the press release, while her husband Robert Delaunay was busy conceptualizing abstraction as a universal language, Sonia was testing it out in painting, posters, garments, bookbinding, and household items, and collaborating with the poet Blaise Cendrars on the artist’s book Prose of the Trans-Siberian and of Little Jehanne of France. Her Spanish and Portuguese years during the First World War saw her first ventures into theater and commercial fashion design in Madrid before her return to Paris in the 1920s. The following decade brought a pared-down abstraction in the International Style that harmonized with the architecture of the time, as in the big mural decorations for the Air Transport Pavilion at the International Exhibition of Art and Technology in Modern Life, on view here for the first time since 1937. Her role as a “go-between” for the pioneers of abstraction and the postwar generation is pointed out through her contributions to the Salons des Réalités Nouvelles, her involvement in various architecture projects, and her exhibitions at the Denise René Gallery in Paris. After the war her painting underwent a profound renewal, culminating in the late 1960s in an intensely poetic form of abstraction. Her formal and technical gifts found expression in monumental paintings, mosaics, carpets, and tapestries, and her late work was marked by the albums of etchings she produced for Editions Artcurial.

It is by exploring her work in the applied arts, her distinctive place in Europe’s avant-garde movements, and her idiosyncratic approach to color (which relates to her childhood in Russia and art study in Germany) that this exhibition promises to effect a rigorous and lasting reassessment of Delaunay’s major and pioneering role as an abstractionist.

Women in Visual Arts 1960–1980: Their Contribution to the Greek Avant-Garde
9a Valaoritou Street, 106 71 Athens, Greece
October 16, 2014–January 10, 2015

The contemporary Greek art institute ISET presents the exhibition Women in Visual Arts 1960–1980: Their Contribution to the Greek Avant-Garde. Assessing the contributions of female artists in the formation of various avant-garde manifestations in Greece, this exhibition is remarkable for its focus on female artists in a country where gender and feminism have not yet played an important role in the discourse of art.

Curated by Charis Canelopoulou and accompanied by an in-depth catalogue, the exhibition claims the marginalized importance of female artists in various avant-garde experimentations that took place in Greece during the military junta and the tumultuous period that followed it. While castigating the secondary place female artists have played in the historiography of Greek art as “women artists,” it sheds new light on the work of a great assortment of artists whose diverse practices—which range from feminist performance to political Pop, Minimalism to multimedia and conceptual practices—variously contributed to the formation of a multifaceted postwar Greek avant-garde scene and its politics.

The included artists are: Celeste Polycroniadi, Eleni Zerva, Nausica Pastra, Sosso Houtopoulou-Kontaratou, Alex Mylona, Ioanna Spiteris-Veropoulou, Chrysa Romanos, Bia Davou, Niki Kanagini, Aspa Stassinopoulou, Celia Daskopoulou, Rena Papaspyrou, Maria Karavela, Vasso Kyriaki, Opy Zouni, Diohandi, and Leda Papaconstantinou.

A nonprofit civil company, ISET was founded in February 2009 by the senior partners of Nees Morfes Art Gallery, in collaboration with art professionals and consultants (such as artists and art historians). ISET’s main objective is to collect and preserve a comprehensive archive of contemporary Greek art (1945 to the present). It’s archival database was originally based on the archives of the Nees Morfes and Desmos art galleries and is being complemented and enriched continuously with archival material generously donated by public and private institutions, artists, art historians, and individuals.

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