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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.

June 2016

Facing the Self: Program 2

In this online database, the curated compilation Facing the Self: Program 2 bring together artists working with the female form, particularly the face. “Using at times elaborate, but more often very limited, visual means and divergent visual and theatrical strategies, each tape explores, asserts, withholds and/or claims power over the representations of the artist’s body, its appearance and experiences.”

Facing the Self is part of the Video Data Bank, founded at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1976. Included in this compilation of early video works are: Hermine Freed, Two Faces (1972); Lynda Benglis, Now (1973); Steina Vasulka, Let it Be (1972); Linda Montano, Mitchell’s Death (1977); Susan Mogul, Take Off (1974); and Eleanor Antin, The Adventures of a Nurse (1976).

“I was writing an essay at the time comparing male artists’ representations of their sexuality with female artists,’” Mogul explains of Take Off. In response to Vito Acconci’s work Undertone, where the artist was supposed to be masturbating while seated at a table, the video that Mogul created posits the artist at the end of a table, directly confronting the viewer and “with a good deal of ironic humor, she transforms the ‘girl’ into a woman and an artist, who positions herself not under the table (as in Acconci’s Undertone) but directly across from the viewer’ alternately discussing the ‘history’ of her vibrator and occasionally using it.”

Louise Fishman: Paper Louise Tiny Fishman Rock
Institute of Contemporary Art
University of Pennsylvania, 118 South 36th Street, Philadelphia, PA
April 29–August 14, 2016

Conceived as a studio visit, Paper Louise Tiny Fishman Rock, at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia presents a selection of sketchbooks, miniature paintings, and small sculptures by Louise Fishman, known for her abstract paintings “with an athletic reach of scale and gesture.”

Miniature canvases, as small as two by three inches, accompany sculptures made from found objects, and cast in bronze from plaster models, along with books whose mark making “burst with narrative drive like Amazonian comics rendered abstract.”

Fishman describes her formative years in the 1960s New York scene: “Franz Kline and Willem de Kooning were big for me—Joan Mitchell too. Then Minimalism came along and I was looking at Sol LeWitt and making hard-edge grid paintings. My group encouraged me to see that everything I was doing as a painter—even using stretched canvas and a paintbrush—was male, and this was problematic.”

Paper Louise Tiny Fishman Rock concentrates on the intimate and potent concerns of the artist: her Philadelphia roots, her feminist and queer politics, her Jewish identity, her friendships with Agnes Martin and Eva Hesse, and her meditations on the grid.

Sama Alshaibi: Silsila
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
7374 East Second Street, Scottsdale, AZ
June 4–September 18, 2016

Named for the Arabic word silsila, or “link,” the exhibition at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art by the Iraqi-born artist Sama Alshaibi represents the joining of individuals to one another, humans with the natural works, and the self to the divine.

Inspired by the fourteenth century explorer and scholar Ibn Batutah, Alshaibi retraced his path through the Middle East, North Africa, and the Maldives. Her large-scale photographs and videos “provoke contemporary questions about borders, migration, and environmental demise in relation to the human body.”

Working in predominantly Muslim countries since 2009, Alshaibi presents the feminine form as a “metaphor for humanity and the natural world, using jewel-like colors, geometric patterning, mirroring and symmetry to reference the formal qualities of Islamic art traditions.”

No play_Feminist Training Camp
neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst (nGbK)
Oranienstraße 25, 10999 Berlin, Germany
May 21–June 24, 2016

In 2013, the nGbK group investigated the pronoun “we” with the project WIR SPIELEN (WE PLAY). Their practice is informed by the idea that the structure of HOW we come together strongly influences WHAT we can do together. Following the group statement and an urgent need to “revive old as well as to develop new feminist and anti-fascist strategies of resistance, survival, and collective action,”nGbK has turned into a Feminist Training Camp: No play, a proposal toward a new social structure seeking to spatially and thematically integrate the space of art as space for action.

This site for activity and exchange is organized in training units developed by international actors from the fields of art, literature, performance, activism, martial arts, health, and film, and includes formats dealing with language as a weapon in political resistance, employing both creative strategies and practice-oriented workshops such as self-defense courses and a feminist repair café. Knowledge exchange from lived experiences is the key. A radio broadcasting system is set up that will allow the recapitulation of the conversations going on in the training camp as form of dissemination.

Based on a queer understanding of feminism, whose issues go far beyond women’s equality, the Feminist Training Camp is structured by zones of different means of production, such as documentary and archival sound and video recordings, a work table, sports mats, and artistic installations. Works and materials are made available in the exhibition space during the course of the training camp and form an infrastructure for planning and training.

At the end of the year a publication of the outcome of the Feminist Training Camp will be released. No Play aims to be developed as a poetic-political manual compiling the strategies, discussions, and experiences of the project.

Michèle Lemieux: The Whole and Its Parts: From Drawings to Animated Films
Canadian Cultural Centre
5, rue de Constantine, Paris, 75007 France
April 15–September 2, 2016

The Canadian Cultural Center in Paris presents The Whole and Its Parts: From Drawings to Animated Films, an exhibition of work by Michèle Lemieux, an illustrator of children’s books, an animated filmmaker, and an educator. The project proposes a reflection on the representation of reality, time, and the human condition.

The Whole and Its Parts: From Drawings to Animated Films invites the viewer to discover the visual experimentations, working methods, and aesthetic of an exceptional artist, the director of films, the latest of which, Here and the Great Elsewhere, was produced at the National Film Board of Canada between 2010 and 2012 with a remarkable instrument—the pinscreen—that was invented in France by the filmmakers Alexandre Alexeïeff and Claire Parker during the 1930s.

Born in Quebec in 1955, Lemieux is a world expert in the technique of pinscreen and will share process and devices in the show. Ephemeral images of the pins and shadows are projected onto a white surface. A fixed camera photographs each drawing and then transmits it to a computer, which records the successive images produced by the tiny changes made to the support. The pinscreen naturally lends itself to morphing one image into another but within the confines of a fixed frame.

This exhibition is both a reflection on Lemieux’s practice and an introduction to her creative process, aiming to open a wider debate beyond the use of drawing in art making, and in film animation in particular, addressing the implications of the use of an archaic tool in contemporary art and design.

Andra Ursuţa: Alps
New Museum of Contemporary Art
235 Bowery, New York, NY 10002
April 27–June 16, 2016

The New Museum presents Alps, the first museum exhibition in New York of Andra Ursuţa.
Born in Romania in 1979, Ursuţa immigrated to the United States in the late 1990s, and yet many of the narrative facets of her upbringing, such as folk traditions and nationalist propaganda, remain evident throughout her work. Since her early practice, Ursuţa has used a fatalistic dark humor to expose power dynamics that inquire the vulnerability of the human body and examine modes of desire.

For her exhibition at the New Museum, Ursuţa debuts a new sculptural installation, Alps (2016), presented in dialogue with the artist’s recent sculptures, including her series Commerce Exterieur Mondial Sentimental (2012) and Whites (2015), which will have their American premiere in this show.

Alps evokes a specific geographical feature, Europe’s major natural barrier that has taken on a new significance in light of current efforts by migrants to cross into Western Europe. The installation seen alongside Whites—a squadron of forlorn obelisks patrolling the premises like ghosts of bygone imperialist ambitions—suggests a commentary on the impulse to guard and fortify borders.

Commerce Exterieur Mondial Sentimental (2012) includes life-sized marble figures adorned with coins glare. Informed by a socialist-realist aesthetic and inspired by a news image of a Roma woman being deported from France, these sculptures evoke lifeless women trapped in an economy in which the value of both human beings and commodities is determined by foreign powers.


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