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CWA Picks for May 2019

posted by CAA — May 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 May below.

Wendy Red Star, Apsáalooke Feminist #3—Apsáalooke Feminist Series, 2016, on view at the Newark Museum through June 16th. Image: © Wendy Red Star

Legal Gender: The Irreverent Art of Anita Steckel

April 13 – May 12, 2019
Verge Center for the Arts, Sacramento

When artist Anita Steckel’s (American, 1930-2012) solo exhibition, The Sexual Politics of Feminist Art (1972, Rockland Community College) was threatened closure by a County Legislator due to the erotic imagery in her work, she founded the Fight Censorship Group. The women’s collective, including member artists Louise Bourgeois, Hannah Wilke, and Joan Semmel among others, denounced the double standard in the artistic community between sexualized men and women, and played a major role in reshaping thought around erotic subject matter within the context of sexual and creative freedom. This exhibit, curated by Kelly Lindner and Rachel Middleman, spans five decades of the feminist artist’s collage and appropriation artwork including the Mom Art photomontage series from the 1960s (the title playing on the recognized term “Pop Art”) incorporating found imagery of anonymous librarians and priests critiquing racism, war and sexual inequalities; the Giant Woman series of photomontage with graphite depictions of mammoth women taking over New York City landmarks; her last series reworking personal photographs of family and friends, and more. As the exhibit statement points out: “In her deft combinations of photomontage, collage, drawing, and painting, Steckel proposes a broader discussion of female sexuality, feminism, gender parity, racial injustice, and political reckoning.” The exhibit surely pushes art’s boundaries, even today, as in the artist’s own words: “Good taste is the enemy of art. It’s wonderful for curtains, but in art, it’s suffocating.”

Wendy Red Star: A Scratch on the Earth

February 23 – June 16, 2019
Newark Museum, New Jersey

A Scratch on the Earth is a mid-career survey held at the Newark Museum of Wendy Red Star, a multidisciplinary artist (b. 1981) from Montana and member of the Apsáalooke (Crow) Tribe, organized by Tricia Laughlin Bloom, Curator of American Art, and guest curator Nadiah Rivera Fellah. Red Star’s presentation, including installation, photography, photo-collage, textile, and mixed media, explores the visual, social, and racial history of indigenous Crow traditions and mythology, often intermixed with the tribe’s painful experiences during which it lost land ownership under colonial American policies. Red Star critically analyzes and researches the portrayal of Native American subjects in the nineteenth century, an imaginary representation of the American West and Indian Reservations manipulated and promulgated by the US government and Hollywood, and highlights the Crow’s manifold resistance to such geographical, political and gendered boundaries. Many of Red Star’s series, for example Map of the Allotted Lands of the Crow Reservation, Montana—A Tribute to Many Good Women (2016), foreground the Crow’s matriarchal and ceremonial legacies supplanted by government enforced patriarchal structures. Red Star playfully and powerfully utilizes photography in her Apsáalooke Feminist series as a contemporary vehicle to refashion “original” Crow Indian representations in Western art through the production of large scale self-portraiture and the exuberant display of her own young daughter, both dressed in elk-tooth attire. A well-illustrated catalogue with essays is published in conjunction with the exhibition.

Aleksandra Karpowicz: Body as Home

May 6 – September 15, 2019
Venice, inauguration of GAD – Giudecca Art District, Italy

Aleksandra Karpowicz’s Body as Home (2018), a three channel 15-minute film, will mark the official launch of Giudecca Art District (GAD), coinciding with the opening of the 58th Biennale Arte 2019 in Venice, Italy. It portrays a journey of three protagonists who discover their selves through their bodily interactions with space. They are captured in four urban locations: Cape Town, London, New York, and Warsaw, navigating complex relationships between their social identity, migration, and the understanding of the concept of “home.” Karpowicz, a migrant herself (born in Poland, living in London), complicates the latter beyond its literal meaning and associations with a dwelling or a place of habitation. She questions when one becomes a visitor or a local inhabitant; how this is conditioned by movement, going away, towards or from and to. The artist is interested in the feeling of “being at home” in relation to geographical locations, to other people but also the self.

Still I Rise: Feminisms, Gender, Resistance, Act 2

February 9 – May 27, 2019
The De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea, UK

Still I rise, with Act 1 presented at Nottingham Contemporary in Nottingham UK at the end of 2018 and beginning of 2019, and Act 2 now on display in The De La Warr Pavilion, UK, is a powerful exhibition featuring works of over 40 practitioners, including for example Carolina Caycedo, Barby Asante, Tai Shani, Osias Yanov or Glenn Belverio (Glennda Orgasm), among many others. They are grounded in intersectional and queer feminist perspectives in a global context. The exhibition explores ways in which resistance has been approached and enabled through associated with feminism and feminist protest principles of collaboration, mutual support, community building, empathy, nurture, and solidarity. The title references Maya Angelou poem Still I rise (1978), concerning oppression and the struggle to overcome prejudice and injustice, which begins:

‘You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.’

Diverse creative practices on display navigate and suggest alternative ways of living and being together that are respectful of human rights and equality.

Jeschkelanger: #siostrzane_odbicie (#sister’s_reflection)

May 15 – June 23, 2019
SiC! Biuro Wystaw Artystycznych (Glass and Ceramics Gallery), Wrocław, Poland

The exhibition features glass work of two artists from Germany, who in December 2016 founded the artist duo Jeschkelanger. They work across multiple media, however they connect through glass, which acts as a space of exploration, collaboration, and exchange of ideas. Jeschkelanger question its limits and possibilities as a material, a medium, a method, and what they call “a melting point,” “a danger zone” and “a contact zone.” The works featured in this exhibition address the concept of hospitality and suggest ways in which the other may be welcome, while acknowledging difference and enabling mutual exchange, and where the dynamics between the host and the guest are questioned. Jeschkelanger create space for a future of shared mutual respect and connectivity, embodying feminist principles of solidarity and friendship. Their vision is hopeful and inviting the politics of togetherness.

THE UNEXPECTED SUBJECT: 1978 ART AND FEMINISM IN ITALY

April 4 – May 26, 2019
FM Center for Contemporary Art, Milan

Curators Marco Scotini and Raffaella Perna selected the year 1978 as “the catalyst year of all energies in play (not only in Italy)” to develop this broad investigation and “reconstruction of the relationship between visual arts and feminist movement in Italy” and the exchanges of feminist artists in Italy at this time with artistic panorama of Europe and beyond. The exhibit will include work from artists included in the 1978 Venice Biennale—which counted 80 women at a time when entrance was difficult—including the visual poetry of Mirella Bentivoglio (1922-2017) among others. The exhibit description names several notable exhibitions that took place in 1978 including an exhibition dedicated to Ketty La Rocca (1938-1976), a leading figure of Italian neo-avant-garde; the first feminist exhibit in Wroclaw, Poland, First International Women’s Art Exhibition; Coazione a Mostrare and Magma, which presented many significant European artists including Marina Abramovic, Hanna Darboven, Gina Pane, VALIE EXPORT, Rebecca Horn, Natalia LL among others. The year also included the international feminist seminar Comrade Woman: Women’s Question—A New Approach? in Belgrade; and the Cooperative Beato Angelico in Rome, the first artistic space entirely run by women. Though most of these notations include the word woman, the description notes the exhibition “criticizes the mainstream historical-critical view that relegates women artists to a marginal position” and privileges “artworks that demystify gender stereotypes and reflect on the role of women in society” including loaned artwork and printed materials related to feminist movements—posters, fanzines, LPs, photographs, and books.

LIKE SUGAR

February 9 – June 23, 2019
Tang Museum, Saratoga Springs, New York

Sugar is all around us, from harvest to consumer product, playing a role in several social justice issues from slavery to ecology and health epidemics and food injustice. Like Sugar explores these both positive and negative aspects of the sweet-tasting, soluble carbohydrates through contemporary artwork, historical materials and material culture. Viewing Emily Eveleth’s both delicious and engorged Big Pink (2016), enlarged pink frosted donuts in oil on canvas, in the same space as 19th-century stereoscopic images depicting slaves in sugar cane fields, such as Preparing Cane Blocks for Replanting, St. Kitts, immediately provokes thought and discussion around sugar in our lives in the present and past. Other artists in the exhibition include Julia Jacquette, Zine Sedira, and Laurie Simmons.

Mickalene Thomas: Do I Look Like a Lady?

March 9 – August 31, 2019
Portland Art Museum

Artist Mickalene Thomas is well-known for her photography, installation, and more recently film production reconsidering black womanhood through a queer lens. The Portland Art Museum just acquired the video installation, Do I Look Like a Lady (Comedians and Singers) (2016), the first by the artist in their collection. The video displays in checkerboard format, moving image footage and individual voices of African-American actors and singers from the 20th century such as Eartha Kitt, Jack “Moms” Mabley, Whoopi Goldberg, and Whitney Houston among others. They express heartbreaking roles, pointed lyrics, sharp jokes, and strong statements of resistance to the dominant culture offering a strong, rebellious, and poignant consideration of the roles of black women in the United States. The museum notes that Thomas spent time in Portland as a young adult and while there admired an exhibition of Carrie Mae Weem’s work in 1994, which was a formative experience that led her to becoming an artist.

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