posted by CAA — Nov 17, 2022
This fall, there are wonderful exhibitions devoted to the work of women artists. We have linked a few of them here through the theme of care and care’s connection to the urgent crisis in which legal protections for women’s bodily autonomy have been taken away right before our eyes. The artwork featured in the exhibitions below does not explicitly take up abortion bans and restrictions. Still, they provoke viewers to see women with complexity, and not as natural resources of care. With their inventive imagery, forms, materials, and ideas, each artist implicitly asserts that women’s bodies are not transparent containers for other people’s purposes. Rather, the artists create images that are layered sites, dense with women’s singular desires to imagine and place themselves in worlds of their own making.
Toni Pepe: An Ordinary Devotion
Danforth Art Museum, Framingham State University, Massachusetts
October 8, 2022—January 29, 2022
Artifacts of caregiving and its complications, these archival inkjet prints by Toni Pepe explore the tension between the analytic mind and the tenderness of touch that maternal care encompasses. Each image depicts an ordinary scene in which care is needed or expressed, but Pepe’s textual markings and imprints index care’s contradictions instead of suffusing them in the aura of idealization and satisfaction. Pepe suggests motherhood is equally about violence and abuse as it is about devotion and nurturing. All are ordinary, but when framed together in such intimate proximity, these dimensions of maternal care trouble societal expectations about what a woman should sacrifice in the name of motherhood and challenge the accepted visual tropes of a woman as a caregiver.
52 Artists: A Feminist Milestone
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
June 6, 2022—January 8, 2023
Proving that we can both revisit feminist art’s dynamic past and witness its ongoing pertinence in an equally dynamic and transformative future, 52 Artists: A Feminist Milestone celebrates the fifty-first anniversary of the historic exhibition Twenty Six Contemporary Women Artists, curated by Lucy R. Lippard and presented at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in 1971. 52 Artists showcases work by the artists included in the original 1971 exhibition alongside a new roster of twenty-six female-identifying or nonbinary emerging artists, tracking the evolution of feminist art practices over the past five decades. 52 Artists encompasses the entirety of the museum (approx. 8,000 sq. ft)—the first exhibition to do so in The Aldrich’s new building, which was inaugurated in 2004. The result is an exhilarating array of styles, forms, mediums, and subjects, which creates an archive of feminist expression that is, according to curator Amy Smith-Stewart, “inclusive, expansive, elastic, and free.”
Lippard’s original 1971 exhibition at The Aldrich was one of the first institutional responses to the issue of women artists’ invisibility in museums and galleries. More specifically, Twenty Six Contemporary Women Artists offered a rejoinder to the protests by the Ad Hoc Women Artists Committee (founded by Poppy Johnson, Brenda Miller, Faith Ringgold, and Lucy Lippard) over the absence of women in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s 1970 Sculpture Annual. Twenty Six Contemporary Women Artists opened the floodgates to a host of other feminist exhibitions throughout the 1970s, signaling Lippard’s emergence as a visionary feminist curator and critic and marking the debut of many groundbreaking artists. Lippard viewed curating this landmark exhibition as an activist gesture. As she explains in the catalog, “I took on this show because I knew there were many women artists whose work was as good or better than that currently being shown, but who, because of the prevailingly discriminatory policies of most galleries and museums, can rarely get anyone to visit their studios or take them as seriously as their male counterparts.” With this radical exhibition, Lippard arguably founded the feminist curatorial practice in this country, and 52 Artists underscores its ongoing influence.
Amy Sherald. The World We Make
Hauser & Wirth, London
October 12—December 23, 2022
Amy Sherald is acclaimed for her paintings of Black Americans that have become landmarks in the grand tradition of social portraiture—a tradition that for too long excluded the Black men, women, families, and artists whose lives have often placed to the side of public narratives even as they have been inextricable from them. Quiet and still but also bright with vibrant, dynamic colors, Sherald’s portraits place her subjects in everyday settings that ultimately elude viewers’ full grasp but also immortalize their depth and significance. In this new body of work on display at Hauser & Wirth, she continues confronting the Western canon of portrait painting by drawing from iconic images and deploying them to carefully reveal the worlds Black people have made for themselves.
Carolee Schneeman, Body Politics
Barbican Centre, London
September 8, 2022—January 8, 2023
Carolee Schneemann, Body Politics is the first survey in the UK of the work of American artist Carolee Schneemann (1939-2019) and the first major exhibition since her death in 2019. Tracing Schneemann’s diverse, transgressive, and interdisciplinary work over six decades, the show celebrates a radical and pioneering artist who remains a feminist icon and point of reference for many contemporary artists and thinkers. Body Politics reveals that Schneeman addressed urgent topics from sexual expression and the objectification of women to human and animal suffering and the violence of war. It shows that she explored the precarity of existence and art as a model of care. Spanning the range of Schneeman’s output and exhibiting rarely seen archival material that includes scores, sketches, scrapbooks, programs, and costumes, Carolee Schneeman, Body Politics positions her as one of the most relevant, provocative, and inspiring artists of the last century.
Mickalene Thomas: Avec Monet
Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris
October 13, 2022—February 6th, 2023
Mickalene Thomas has created a distinct visual vocabulary of Black erotica, Black sexuality, and Black queer aesthetics centered around joy and pleasure. This exhibition highlights the sensuous depths of her art historical imagination and the intimacy of her collaborations with the past. On display in Mickalene Thomas: Avec Monet are three new large-scale collages, one monumental painting, and an immersive site-specific installation featuring her 2016 video/sculpture Me As Muse. These works deepen our view of Thomas’ vivid, celebratory style and attest to her time as an artist-in-residence at Claude Monet’s home in Giverny, France, in 2011.
Martine Syms: She Mad Season One
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
July 2, 2022—February 12, 2023
This solo exhibition features Martine Syms’s She Mad series. This ongoing conceptual project takes the form of a semi-autobiographical sitcom about a young woman trying to make it as an artist in Los Angeles. Drawing from a range of sources, including early cinema, television shows, advertisements, and internet memes, Syms, known for her humor and biting social commentary, dissects the ways Black experiences are mediated on television, in film, and online. The show marks the US premiere of the fifth and newest episode of She Mad—and the first time that the series is shown in its entirety.
Martine Syms: She Mad Season One situates the five video artworks within an immersive sculptural installation constructed from exposed aluminum studs painted in the artist’s signature shade of purple—a reference to both the chroma key backdrops frequently used in post-production of films and television shows and Alice Walker’s 1982 novel The Color Purple. Like the exposed walls of the installation, Syms’s videos lay bare the structures that shape the images and videos we consume.
Close Enough: New Perspectives from 12 Women Photographers at Magnum
International Center of Photography, New York
September 29, 2022—January 9, 2023
Close Enough: New Perspectives from 12 Women Photographers of Magnum presents pivotal projects in the careers of 12 contemporary women photographers of Magnum Photos, the pioneering photography collective. With a title inspired by Magnum co-founder Robert Capa’s quote “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough,” Close Enough presents more than 150 works, including Sabiha Çimen’s explorations of the experiences of young Islamic women in Turkey; Alessandra Sanguinetti’s long-term collaboration with the rural Argentinean cousins Guille and Belinda as they evolve from childhood into adulthood; Bieke Depoorter’s multiyear, multiform project Agata, about a young club performer in Paris; and Susan Meiselas’ work with women who sought refuge from domestic violence in the Midlands, UK. The exhibition also creates space for the photographers to narrate their creative journeys, providing vantage points into the extraordinary relationships they create within global situations, communities, and individual subjects.
Silvia Kolbowski: Who will save us?
Kunsthaus Glarus, Switzerland
September 4, 2022–November 27, 2022
In the two exhibition spaces at Kunsthaus Glarus, Silvia Kolbowski presents the video work Who will save us? (2022) and Missing Asher (2019) The work Who will save us? was created especially for this exhibition. The video is a “mashup” of two films: Metropolis (1927, directed by Fritz Lang) and THX 1138 (1971, directed by George Lucas), both futuristic science-fiction films about life in hierarchical two-class societies. Distilling over three hours of film into a 14-minute film loop, Kolbowski’s experimental compilation of footage creates a new narrative that resonates with the prescience of the original films but relates to the present political moment, in which the psychological aspects of group dynamics interact with neoliberal capitalism’s embrace of technology and polarized wealth. Another video, Missing Asher (2019), also makes time into a medium. This artwork, which includes Kolbowski’s correspondence with the influential conceptual artist Michael Asher – raises the question of whether the de facto stipulations of the art market are permanently aligned against conceptual, research-based works.