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 July and August below.
Minneapolis Institute of Art
June 2 – August 18, 2019
Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists is the first-ever museum retrospective of Native American and Canadian female artists. It is guided by three key themes: legacy, relationships, and power, and includes works by more than seventy women artists made in a variety of media, from textiles and bead work to digital arts. The show welcomes visitors with a parked customized 1985 Chevy El Camino fabricated by the mixed-media artist Rose Simpson. It pays homage to Maria Martinez, a potter and the first self-identified, non-anonymous Native artist. The car is outfitted with decals inspired by Pueblo ceramics often designed by women, yet typically unacknowledged. This work, among others on display in this exhibition, addresses the silenced narratives and forgotten, uncredited works of Native American women, offering multiple perspectives on othering, colonization, cultural appropriation, and victimization of practices considered feminine.
Galerie Gmurzynska Zürich, Switzerland
June 8 – September 8, 2019
The title of the exhibition, Amazonki, refers to the Russian word for “Amazons,” in Greek mythology a tribe of women warriors known for their courage. Benedikt Livshits, a poet and a writer, first used this term to address the female Russian avant-gardes, who were described as “real Amazons, Scythian riders.” This exhibition features a selection of remarkable works across different media by women artists of the Russian vanguard, including Maria and Xenia Ender, Natalia Goncharova, Liubov Popova, Olga Rozanova, Nadezhda Udaltsova, and Varvara Stepanova. Their pioneering works from the early 20th-century Russia were significant to the formation of new art movements and redefined the status of female artists.
Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon, Portugal
May 31 – September 2, 2019
Filipa César’s installation and essay documentary film are featured at the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum and raise issues about colonialism and gentrification on the Bissagos Islands. The project explores the dynamics of Creolization and the subversive dimension of linguistic codes. César’s moving images are characterized by tensions between oppositions: reality and fiction, present and past, stillness and motion. In this exhibition her cinematographic language concerns poetics of resistance within colonial occupation. It is used to investigate notions of weaving and acts of writing in relation to new digital economies. She engages various spatialities and agencies to investigate a subversive potency of quantum weaving against the engineering of binary extractive epistemologies.
Barbican Art Gallery
May 30 – 1 September 1, 2019
“To whom shall I hire myself? What beast must one adore? What holy image attack? What hearts shall I break? What lie must I maintain? In what blood must I walk?” These ferocious lines from Arthur Rimbaud’s poem A Season in Hell were transcribed on Lee Krasner’s (1908-1984) East Village studio wall at 51 East Ninth Street in Manhattan and still pack a punch. They demand our attention just as the formidable career of this legendary Abstract Expressionist artist. The Barbican’s Lee Krasner: Living Colour is the first traveling retrospective on the US artist organized in Europe, curated by Eleanor Nairne. Krasner’s first survey presentation was at the Whitechapel Gallery in London in 1965. The accompanying exhibition catalogue, edited by Nairne with essays by Katy Siegel, John Yau, and Suzanne Hudson, brings further attention to Krasner’s multifaceted personal history, education, and artistic relationships. While significant art historical scholarship was previously established in publications on Krasner, including Ellen Landau’s catalogue raisonné (1995) and Joan Marter’s Women of Abstract Expressionism (2016), this catalogue assesses broad connections and cuts a swath through the artist’s extensive oeuvre, consuming discourse, and marriage to Jackson Pollock. Krasner was renowned and likewise criticized for her perpetual desire to change artistic styles (a problematic issue highlighted in Abstract Expressionist criticism) and tendency to recycle earlier works in the process of remaking new ones. Living Colour is an ambitious curatorial enterprise and offers that there is always room for periodic review and assessment of the depth of women’s creativity and tenacity negotiating the modern male environment of New York in the mid-1940s and 1950s. As much as Krasner looked to the past to clarify her vision, Living Colour affords us the chance to appraise her vast development, rethink her vernacular and personally direct expression, repetition of cycles, utilization of collage, and influences of language and narrative.
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 June below.
March 8 – August 4, 2019
Milwaukee Art Museum
Sara Cwynar (b. 1985, Canada) explores both process and the power of the media in a variety of media including photography, collage, book-making and installation. Her first solo exhibition in the US, IMAGE MODEL MUSE at the Milwaukee Art Museum will feature three of her latest films—Soft Film (2016), Rose Gold (2017), and Cover Girl (2018) alongside photographs from her ongoing Tracy series (2008-current). Named for the model in the photographs, the Tracy images acknowledge the history of representation of women with discarded, high-modernist-era designed objects, connecting “the way we treat objects and the way we treat humans,” according to the artist in an Aperture interview. The photographs and films are multi-layered, intricate and deep with eye-catching, bright hues and sharp design, creating bold and successful works aesthetically and substantially. Her films combine these elements with traditions of experimental film and performance video, further questioning issues around imagery and circulation via the internet. Senses and minds are sure to be exercised at this dense exhibit.
May 1 – August 18, 2019
Denver Art Museum
This first major museum exhibition of artist Jordan Casteel (b. 1989, Denver) presents almost thirty paintings, from 2014 to present, showing the artist’s evolving practice and themes from cityscapes and subway scenes to women and local business owners. The oversized portraits with bold colors and intentional heavy contrast exude a clear and bold presence of the individuals and places that perhaps often aren’t paid more than a glance. In Benyam (2018), a trio of individuals at what appears to be a wine bar, look square into the viewers, their poses comfortable but intentional, background details like art on the walls and a plant, wine glasses, lacking much detail, complete the aura of the image, questioning who and what this art is about—those in the painting, those looking, or the moment of looking? Figures depicted sometimes vulnerable, sometimes jovial, always at ease, each one staring deeply at the viewer, presenting an intimate exhibition experience.
March 1 – September 1, 2019
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City
Artist Saya Woolfalk (b. 1979, Japan) created ChimaCloud, an alternative digital universe, via an extensive narrative of a fictional race of women she named the Empathics. This exhibition presents an immersive, multi-media experience incorporating themes of cultural hybridization, technology, identity, ceremonial rituals, and science fiction. Especially for this exhibition installation, Woolfalk drew her inspiration directly from the Nelson-Atkins permanent collection, adding a contextual and localized element. “What I hope is to have people feel a little bit distracted…and because they’re so unclear about where they are, they become open…so that, they can take that sense of openness with them into their everyday lives,” said the artist on the museum website. The bright colors, patterns, figures, and lights will likely transport and fulfill the artist’s want.
The 58th International Art Exhibition
May 11 – November 24, 2019
Biennale Arte 2019, Venice, Italy
For the first time in the history of the Venice Biennale half of those artists who contributed to the main exhibition entitled May You Live in Interesting Times, curated by Ralph Rugoff, are women.
Cathy Wilkes’ exhibition, featuring new works created for the Biennale Arte 2019 in Venice, occupies the six rooms of the British Pavilion. The viewers are invited to a space filled with melancholy, stillness, and breath-taking natural Venetian daylight. Visiting Venice Biennale can be an overwhelming experience, with the abundance of artworks, the crowds, the queues and the discussions heard almost everywhere. Wilkes, with her characteristic sensibility and attention to the minutiae of matter, created an intimate space that seems to stand still. She stripped the Pavilion of any adornments and insisted on natural light soaking in. The sculptural installations are accompanied by prints and paintings changing hues and tones with the daily and nightly transformations of light. Those variations in colors and textures brought together into intimate relationships and juxtapositions are subtle and interconnected. Wilkes created a space filled with loss but also hope, invoking a sense of daily rituals, scattered across the rooms, disrupted but also complete.
For the first time in the history of Austrian contribution to the Venice Biennale, a female artist widely acclaimed in the international feminist avant-garde, Renate Bertlmann, was selected for a solo exhibition in the Austrian Pavilion. Her installation, entitled Discordo Ergo Sum (I disagree, therefore I am), playing on the Descartesian philosophical principle ‘Cogito Ergo Sum’ (I think, therefore I am), is an ironic statement and a subversion of established sociopolitical hierarchies and dichotomies, also within the art world. The artist appropriates a rich vocabulary of social symbols and reviews them from a feminist position encouraging multitude and diversity. At the heart of the exhibition Bertlmann installed a grid of 312 glass roses (hand blown in Murano) out of which protrude razor sharp blades. This is accompanied by a series of works exploring body images and a piece in front of the pavilion, Amo Ergo Sum (I love, therefore I am), which raise issues concerning the transformative potential of art, and gender violence.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 March below.
February 14 – March 16, 2019
Berry Campbell Gallery, New York
Judith Godwin: An Act of Freedom contributes to the important revisionist history on the women of Abstract Expressionism with the presentation of twenty-three gestural canvases produced from 1954 through 2007. A native of Suffolk, Virginia, Godwin (b. 1930) attended Mary Baldwin College in Staunton (1948-50) and completed her undergraduate degree in 1952 at Richmond Professional Institute of the College of William and Mary (now Virginia Commonwealth University). She moved to New York in 1953, where she was invited to attend frequent dance classes and performances by Martha Graham, with whom she established a lifelong friendship. She also studied briefly with Will Barnet and Vaclav Vytlacil at the Art Students League, followed by classes with Hans Hofmann in Provincetown, MA, and in the fall 1954 at 52 West Eighth Street. Inspired by Hofmann’s color principles, Godwin’s emerging abstractions in the mid-1950s, many on view here, display a tightly structured organization of planar elements that develop into expansive and sweeping arcs, angles, and spatial breaks across the painterly surface. An interesting comparison is Japanese painter Kenzo Okada (1902-82), another formative association for Godwin encouraging her investigations in Zen Buddhism. Godwin’s paintings were included in the important traveling exhibition, Women of Abstract Expressionism that originated at the Denver Art Museum in 2016.
December 15, 2018 – March 31, 2019
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
The first retrospective of Vija Clemins in North American in more than 25 years, this exhibition presents over 140 small scale, exquisitely detailed paintings, drawings, and sculptures of the physical world by the American-Latvian artist. Living and working in New York since 1981, Celmins’ early work was inspired by Pop Art, painting realistic depictions of everyday objects, followed by drawings and paintings of newspaper photographs. Her Untitled (Big Sea) series in the 1970s, depicting the ocean texture completely filling the picture plane, unbroken by any horizon or secondary life or object, brought her acclaim as she developed her meticulously thorough technique. Her intention more about the process than the photographic reflection or landscape aesthetic, the works’ texture and character present a fascinating distraction, opposing romantic cliché.
March 1 – April 13, 2019
Richard Saltoun Gallery, London
Since March 2019 Richard Saltoun Gallery in London is dedicating its annual programme to women, as part of their mission to support female artists who are under-recognized and under-represented. This inaugural exhibition celebrating the Gallery’s commitment to protest gender inequality in the art world, showcases Rose English’s works from the earlier stages of her career. The exhibition includes a range of artworks from 1970s and early 1980s demonstrating the richness of English’s unique artistic vocabulary, her curiosity and willingness to experiment with processes and materials, and her versatility as an artist eager to engage with photography, ceramics, collage, film, installation and performance. Her interest in politics, social issues, aesthetics, philosophy and popular culture can be traced in her early works. What is particularly interesting, is the artist’s subversive understanding of feminism and femininity which she explores through challenging and interweaving diverse forms, their conventions and histories. Plato’s Chair (1983) exhibited in the final room of the gallery is one of her most important early monologue performances staged at the Western Front in Vancouver, Canada in 1983.
February 20 – April 15, 2019
Centre Pompidou, Paris
Mutations is the first monographic exhibition in Europe of Erika Verzutti, the Brazilian artist (b. 1971, São Paulo) known for her vital exploration of the materialization and facture of sculptural forms in bronze, ceramic, cement and papier-mâché. Occupying the entirety of Gallery 3, Verzutti’s provocative sculptures and reliefs, often animalistic, vegetal, and botanical abstractions, are here conceived as “families” or generative groupings and “conversations,” such as Tarsila, an homage to the brilliant painter and “mother” of Brazilian modernism, Tarsila do Amaral, or The Brasilia Family, a title conjuring the extraordinary industrialization of the new capital city in postwar Brazil. A central object embodying a massive swan’s shapely form evokes matrilineal sources and tribal connectivity. In relationship to the rational, geometric panels of Brazilian Concretism in the 1950s or the gestalt ideals of Neo-Concretist “non-objects,” Verzutti’s playful, sardonic and feminist gestures invite new and welcome readings on texture, materiality, and opticality.
January 31 – April 19, 2019
Carlow University Art Gallery, Pittsburgh
This process and collaborative oriented exhibit includes paintings by artists Sarah Jacobs, Kristen Letts Kovak, and Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann around legacy, possibility and evolving context. One individually completed painting by each artist is complemented by another that was influenced by the paintings by the other two artists. Moreover, the trio will create a collaborative painting in the gallery during the exhibition’s run that will be finished by the end. Katherine Tzu-Mann’s expansive, expressive colorful paintings explore how painting can “capture flux, abundance, waste, fertility, and the collision and collusion of diverse forms” from material, to process to their animated result of shapes, moving lines and colors. Also rich in movement and hue, Kristen Letts Kovak’s paintings seem to take more botanical form, if imagined, as the artist explains her more intuitive approach, her paintings are “both records of my perceptions, and independent objects for observation.” Sarah Jacobs’ process is pattern-driven, meticulously hand-painted, bright and complex work that relates to human vulnerability. The artists share a mentor, who provided impetus for the title reflecting artists’ perhaps seemingly random yet purposely juxtaposed choices.
January 22 – December 19, 2019
Gracie Mansion, New York
What does it mean to make a difference while residing in “The People’s House?” First Lady of New York City Chirlane McCray embodies strident activism in her support of this important exhibition at Grace Mansion, the official residence of the Mayor and his family. This smart installation of 44 modern and contemporary women artists marks a century of persistence since suffrage and shows 60 artworks by women who represent diverse origins and cultural positions intersecting life and culture in New York City. Curator Jessica Bell Brown brings together photographs, objects, archival materials, and artworks documenting diverse forms of political resistance and power struggles (LGBTQ and AIDS awareness, for example) and art historical and proto-feminist interventions in the twentieth-century canon (Abstract Expressionist modern women, for instance), all of which thematically explore ideas contending with “complicated histories, the body as battleground, picturing people, and expanding abstraction.” She Persists presents an extraordinary range of artists: early modernists and social realists Florine Stettheimer, Isabel Bishop, and Theresa Bernstein; photographers Berenice Abbott, Ruth Orkin, Perla de Leon and Consuelo Kanaga; video and performance artists Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Martha Rosler and Ana Mendieta; and postwar abstractionists Betty Parsons, Helen Frankenthaler, Grace Hartigan, Lee Krasner, and Carmen Herrera. Kara Walker, Simone Leigh, Elizabeth Catlett, Augusta Savage, and Faith Ringgold represent broad proposals on African-American narratives. Shirley Chisholm, the Brooklyn-born Congresswoman, summarizes the rallying cries for women’s rights in her 1974 speech: “Forget traditions! Forget conventionalisms! Forget what the world will say whether you’re in your place or out of your place Stand up and be counted.”
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 February below.
January 31 – February 24, 2019
Amos Eno Gallery, Brooklyn
“Anger is an assertion of rights and worth. It is communication, equality, and knowledge. It is intimacy, acceptance, fearlessness, embodiment, revolt, and reconciliation. Anger is memory and rage. It is rational thought and irrational pain. Anger is freedom, independence, expansiveness, and entitlement. It is justice, passion, clarity, and motivation. Anger is instrumental, thoughtful, complicated, and resolved. In anger, whether you like it or not, there is truth…If ever there was a time not to silence yourself, to channel your anger into healthy places and choices, this is it.”
Soraya Chemaly, Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger (2018, Atria Books)
Artist Rosemary Meza-DesPlas explores all of these elements of anger and more through her sinuous lines in hand-sewn human hair drawings, watercolors and onsite installations in her solo show, Jane Anger, the title referencing a 16th century pamphlet published in England titled Jane Anger, Her Protection for Women. She also utilizes art history as inspiration by juxtaposing found art historical imagery along with social media and mass media imagery, exploring how the social movements, Women’s Marches and #MeToo, harnessed anger in order to forefront an array of gender-based burdens, presenting anger as a tool rather than detriment, as media often reflects. Moreover, by using her own gray hair in her drawings, Meza-DesPlas implicates further thought on socio-cultural symbolism, feminism and body issues, and religious symbolism, invoking both contemporary and classical perspectives around anger. Building on the multi-media experience, during the opening reception, the artist will present her piece titled Intervals of Anger, performing a poem every fifteen minutes. Taken altogether and individually, Jane Anger will surely rile and provoke audiences on this timely issue.
January 12 – March 2, 2019
Leslie Tonkonow, New York
The first solo exhibition of Helène Aylon in New York since 1979, Elusive Silver is a great introduction to the perceptual intricacies and feminist intent of the work of this understudied pioneer through her eponymous 1969-1973 abstract painting series. Comprising works that reflect and refract an inner glow that changes visually with the viewer’s stance and the light conditions, this first exploration of process-driven painting made with industrial materials such as sheet metal, acrylic plastic and spray paint is a potent prelude of her signature late-1970s works physically changing, as intended, with the passage of time.
Born in 1931 and raised within the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Boro Park, Brooklyn, Aylon was married to a rabbi at the age of eighteen and became widowed, with two young children, at the age of thirty. While in her mid-twenties, she enrolled as an art major at Brooklyn College, taking classes with Ad Reinhardt who became her friend, her true mentor who freed her work, while also introduced her to Mark Rothko, with whom she shared the spiritual foundations of their common cultural backgrounds. Refraining from mark-marking, beginning in 1969, however, Aylon experimented with the idea of creating “painting that revealed itself,” in an attempt to introduce an evolving feminist consciousness in painting.
December 8, 2018 – March 31, 2019
Kunsthalle im Lipsiusbau, Dresden, Germany
Curated by Suzanne Altmann, The Medea Insurrection redresses the marginalization of the vanguard women artists working in the German Democratic Republic and their radical female perspective—largely due to the institutional predilection for East Germany’s male figurative painters before and after the Wall’s fall. The Medea Insurrection illuminates the singularly radical idioms of an intergenerational selection of multimedia women artists and rarely shown groups from East Germany and highlights their conceptual and artistic affinities with more recognized artists from other socialist countries in light of their shared provocative turn to mythology and empowering reinterpretation of female figures –such as Medea, Cassandra or Penthesilea—as means to advance contemporary, often punk, images of women, and protest both bourgeois and socialist role models. With this “double refusal” they were exposing themselves often to more risk than their male colleagues, who prior to 1989 often turned to codes of ancient mythology to express their discontent with the communist rule yet in painting. Performance artist Gabriele Stötzer, for instance, was imprisoned as a dissident and faced years of surveillance by the Stasi. Christa Jeitner too was banned from exhibiting in the 1970s, as was Cornelia Schleime who fled to the West in 1981.“From a lack of freedom, a certain freedom emerges,” as put by the curator, who argues that women artists were often more radical in such contexts of artistic unfreedom—perhaps because they were working so far under the official radar that they could take greater risks.
The exhibition brings together the work of rarely shown performance and fashion group Allerleihrauh, the visual dissidence of Dresden artists Angela Hampel, Christine Schlegel, Cornelia Schleime and Karla Woisnitza, the feminist experimentations of the filmmakers’ group Efurt, from Thuringia, an intergenerational mixture of East Berlin photographers such as Gundula Schulze Eldowy, Tina Bara, Evelyn Richter and Sibylle Bergemann, as well as Christa Jeitner and performance artist Gabriele Stötzer with Magdalena Abakanowicz (Poland), Geta Bratescu (Romania), Katalin Ladik (Hungary), Zofia Rydet (Poland), Zorka Saglova (Czech Republic) and Alina Szapocznikow (Poland), among others, capturing, their defiant risk taking, talent for improvisation, self-irony, and categorical reinterpretation of classical materials and motifs across their different media. It also draws parallels to the 1980s, when Else Gabriel (Germany) and Hanne Wandtke (Germany) carried out risky performance experiments as part of the Dresden group Autoperforationsartisten.
January 13 – April 14, 2019
Potts Gallery (Los Angeles)
Some conversations are historical-actual—often resulting in the production of treasure troves of personal material (letters and/or gifts exchanged as signs of connection and engagement)—and other conversations must, by dint of our temporal realities, be virtual. When Corita Kent died in 1986, Matt Keegan was only ten years old—yet this did not stop the young artist from finding a point of contact in Kent’s work. On sabbatical in Cape Cod Kent produced a series of work that melded the color-combinations of naval signal flags with a variety of source material (the book of revelation, Winnie the Pooh, and others) to create a vibrant abecedarium. Years later, Keegan has taken Kent’s historical work and created his own series based on the radical juxtapositions offered by the former nun. Bringing the two together in virtual dialogue is a reminder as to how artist’s trajectories extend far past their own lives, and how we might continue to have conversations with the past.
January 19 – May 12, 2019
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Born in Mexico City in 1942, Graciela Iturbide has spent her career photographing daily life for the variety of indigenous populations that live in Mexico, and Latin America more broadly. A mentee of Manual Álvarez Bravo—who taught at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), where Iturbide attended—her work is both a paean to, and departure from Bravo’s exacting formalism. In the late 1970s Iturbide received two important commissions, both to photograph segments of Mexico’s many indigenous communities. These commissions resulted in the publication of Juchitán de las Mujeres, a defining moment in Iturbide’s storied career. Her engagement with matrilineal and matriarchal indigenous communities, not to mention the presence of the Zapotec genderqueer muxe, meant that Iturbide’s photography has necessarily engaged questions of gender, sex, and social cohesion. As Iturbide’s prominence increased, she was invited to devise and complete projects all over the world – yet this exhibition makes a case for Mexico as the near-constant geographic touchstone running throughout her practice.
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 January below.
FEMINIST EXPRESSIONS: INVITATIONAL SHOW FEATURING KENTUCKY FOUNDATION FOR WOMEN ARTIST ENRICHMENT GRANTEES
November 30, 2018 – January 19, 2019
Kaviar Gallery, Louisville, KY
Kentucky isn’t exactly thought of as the feminist mecca. But seventeen invited artists from around this Southern state present poignant artwork around highly charged social topics such as immigration, femicide, media and materiality, food and animal abuse, astrology, pollution and more. Whitney Withington’s intimately hand-crafted journals feature vintage vernacular photography from Appalachia, reversing the trend of invisibility of African American women in Appalachian imagery and literature. Dijana Muminovic, an artist who survived the Bosnian War, exhibits a keen and affecting photograph reflecting Bosnian women and their search for separated loved ones. Diane Kahlo pays homage to the disappeared/murdered young women of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico’s via her small, richly hued portraits with an altar adorned with sequined skulls and ceramic roses. Through her sensual quilted works, Jennifer Hart combines the warmth of fabric with the brashness of pornography to re-humanize the dehumanized nude female body. The 17 artists exude a stellar combination of aesthetic and the boldness and excellence necessary to make real change, significantly in a lesser recognized area.
October 11, 2018 – January 27, 2019
Bringing together more than 350 objects, this retrospective exhibition of the Bauhaus-trained weaver, whose 1965 text On Weaving has been a standard-bearer in the realm of fiber arts. In Open Letter, a wall-hanging from 1958, Albers produced a cacophony of patterns using only black, white, and a minimal amount of copper-colored thread. Mathematically precise the tapestry scintillates with a seemingly improvisatory energy. Each of the works on display merit close and persistent looking—their gifts both readily available and hidden in the warp and weft of Albers’ keen compositional intelligence. Of particular interest is the fact that the curators have gathered together source material that informed Alber’s On Weaving, and thus one also gets the picture of Albers as inveterate magpie, collector, and cultural connector.
In 1939 Albers wrote about material, and the benefits of artistic perseverance: “But most important to one’s own growth is to see oneself leave the safe ground of accepted conventions and to find oneself alone and self-dependent. It is an adventure which can permeate one’s whole being. Self-confidence can grow. And a longing for excitement can be satisfied without external means, within oneself; for creating is the most intense excitement one can come to know.” The sagacity that comes with self-sufficiency is on full display here, even if Albers is still only mentioned in surveys of Western Art History as a footnote to her husband’s artistic and teaching career. Hopefully this exhibition and its accompanying catalog go a ways toward changing that.
January 9 – February 3, 2019
In an attempt to locate empathy as an enactment the curators of the 13th A.I.R. Biennial, Sarah Demeuse and Prem Krishnamurthy, have gathered twenty-nine works that work to reengage the radical activity of listening. A part of feminist and critical race conversations for decades, listening has been a central focus of cultural forms such as consciousness-raising and witnessing. Placing a premium on this important component of political awakening and action, the curators seek to orient viewers towards “novel forms of communing,” incorporating rest, pause, and reflection. Participating artists include: Angeli, Angie Keefer, Anna Riley, Catalina Viejo López de Roda, Dulce Gómez, Fotini Vurgaropulou, Hagen Verleger, Irene Mohedano, Jane Long, Johanna Unzueta, Julie Nagle, Karen Donnellan, Katie Hector, Katja Mater, Katy Mixon, Keren Benbenisty, Kyoung eun Kang, Library Stack, Lukas Eigler-Harding, Malin Abrahamsson, Maren Henson, Matthew Schrader, Olivia Baldwin, Romily Alice Walden, Sari Carel, Scaleno Collective, Shuyi Cao, Suzanne Mooney, Tselote Holley, and Zhenya Plechkina. Opening events included a performance by Angeli (with Jayoung Yoon); closing events will incorporate a performance by Irene Mohedano and the launch of Romily Alice Walden’s A Primer on Working with Disabled Group Members for Feminist / Activist Groups.
December 7, 2018 – December 6, 2020
Seattle Art Museum
British ceramicist artist Claire Partinginton’s work flips the typical script of the Seattle Art Museum’s Porcelain Room for a whole two years, demonstrating a strong sense of acknowledgement of institutional limitations. Taking Tea is the first ever installation in the visitor favorite Porcelain Room since its debut in 2007. The Porcelain Room includes more than 1,000 European and Asian porcelain pieces from SAM’s collection grouped to evoke porcelain as a treasured commodity between the East and the West. This is precisely where the artist’s inspiration lies, within the European tradition of appropriation and reinterpretation or misinterpretation of “exotic” styles. She writes, “I like the idea of getting it slightly wrong and the bluffing and ‘cobbling together’ of styles that has resulted in some fantastic historical objects.” The results are familiarly finely crafted ceramics of pristine, richly adorned figures with contemporary details and jolting couplings, an installation referencing Baroque painting and European porcelain factories, as well as a panel mounted with fragments from 17th- and 18th-century shipwrecks. A group of four in fancy attire pose as if “taking tea” while a single figure lay, stomach down, in the middle of their fine affair, reflecting the troubling aspects of the era they depict, yet resonating with the still continued issues with international trade and economy. It’s sure to be a trip!
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 December below.
September 13, 2018 – January 31, 2019
Barbara Hammer needs no introduction. One of the first filmmakers to openly address and document lesbian sexuality, Hammer is both a feminist pioneer of queer cinema and an influential force of avant-garde and experimental filmmaking. She is also dying.
In a recent talk at the Whitney Museum (The Art of Dying or [Palliative Art Making in the Age of Anxiety]) she frankly, movingly, and inspiringly spoke of death and (her) art, living with cancer and one’s right to die “when she wishes,” advocating terminally ill patients’ right to decide how and when to die. Concentrating instead on works that precede the specter of death in her work, Contribution to Light focuses only on very early films, photographs, and works on paper, including some previously unknown. It seeks to explore the role physical perception of space and relationships play in Hammer’s first steps as an artist, marking the signature combination of physical presence, painterly quality, and sensual expressionism that characterizes much of her work both on celluloid and paper. “Her camera gaze seems to literally touch the environment, inseparable from her body and its experiences, while her paint brush and her pencil are unafraid to discern the surface of the paper as a field of action and mental and formal discovery,” as put in the press release. Touch has been indeed central in Hammer’s vision, and she eloquently speaks about it during the aforementioned talk. While this show in Madrid is only a small homage to Hammer’s beginnings, her illness and own commitment to prepare for the aftermath of her death has already precipitated a wave of much-needed study, preservation, and celebration of her work in the US. A major retrospective will open next summer at the Wexner Center for the Arts. But will she be alive, or conscious to see it? Wishing so, this CWA selection symbolically reciprocates her loving goodbye while she is still in life.
November 1 – December 22, 2018
Nara Roesler Gallery, New York
This concise exhibition focuses on Tomie Ohtake’s preparatory collages, drawings, and engravings from the 1960s and 1970s and proposes a new dimension to the Japanese-Brazilian artist’s expansive, six-decade career and legacy. Curated by Paulo Miyada, chief curator of the Instituto Tomie Ohtake, São Paulo, At Her Fingertips places Ohtake’s “studies” in direct relationship to a few select paintings, arguing for a dynamic reciprocity between media and offering further insight into the eminent artist’s approach to abstract gesturalism, geometry, and spirituality. These small, colorful collages—torn and ripped somewhat haphazardly—are hung directly from the ceiling in double-sided glass frames, highlighting the graphic and material nature of paper cutouts and promoting the dialectics of chance and control underlying Zen Buddhism and Japanese calligraphy. This tidy show further informs the interwoven dialogues on abstraction offered in postwar Brazil from which Ohtake readily drew upon, including those by the Seibi group’s second generation, including Manabu Mabe and Flávio-Shiró, and the Concrete principles of design and color theory by Wyllis de Castro and Hércules Barsotti, for example. In all, this exhibition continues the important historical work on Ohtake, and delivers a morsel of her brilliant career to a new audience in New York.
September 4 – December 14, 2018
Kean University Karl and Helen Burger Gallery, Union, New Jersey
Linda Vallejo provokes both directly and subtly poignant questions through her “Make ‘Em All Mexican” (MEAM) series of historical figures and contemporary pop personalities painted brown; and extended series, “The Brown Dot Project” of transformations of Latino populations and workforce data into engaging visual representations using brown dots. MEAM sculptures, handmade books and manipulated aluminum sublimation prints began in 2011 when the artist worked out her own query, “I’m a person of the world. What would the world of contemporary images look like from my own personal Mexican-American, Chicano lens?” From the Three Stooges to Jennifer Lawrence to the Statue of Liberty, these iconic works in brown and titled in Spanish, presented in striking fashion, challenge audiences, “Does color and class define our understanding and appreciation of our culture?” “The Brown Dot” series are dotted objects and abstract images on graphed pages with statistics built into the pointillated designs, stats as the titles, such as National Latino Authors and Writers 5.6% dotted to create a typewriter; or National Latino Architects 7.2% into a VW Beetle. The series has traveled in solo and group exhibitions for a few years now, but its relevancy endures.
September 29, 2018 – January 27, 2019
Nevada Museum of Art, Reno
Not enough can be said about the innovative, ethereal and intimate photography of Anne Brigman, though this exhibition, the largest ever undertaken including over 300 works spanning her career, attempts to honor her amazing radical oeuvre. Objectifying her own nude body outside in near desolate wilderness was absolutely revolutionary at the turn of the twentieth century, moreover her well-known landscape photography, poetry and art criticism maintained for her a significant career. Her sinuous figure aligns naturally with the lines of the trees and landscapes of Sierra Nevada. Her powerful poses wreak vulnerability and strength, echoing Francesca Woodman decades after her, but with an inner confidence and strength. Brigman redefined the space through her work as did Judy Chicago, Brigman a feminist artist before the notion.
September 28, 2018 – March 4, 2019
Museum of Sex, New York
With an unapologetic dose of theatricality appropriate for its subject, this small but comprehensive survey curated by Lissa Rivera offers a delectable opportunity to discover, re-evaluate and celebrate the art and life of Leonor Fini as well as the rebellious inextricability of both.
Born in Buenos Aires, but raised in Trieste—only by her mother upon her separation of her abusive father whom she escaped by often dressing like a boy—Fini begun to paint at the age of thirteen and by the time she moved to Paris in 1931 had already established herself “as an artist to watch.” While best remembered today as a Surrealist due to her early style, affiliations and her participation in the seminal 1936 MoMA show, Fantastic Art, Dada and Surrealism, and her illustrations of Marquis de Sade Juliette, Fini refused membership in any of the contemporary avant-garde movements and pursued a fiercely independent course in life and art, marked by her eccentric disguises, life-long partnership with two men, and a radical exploration of desire, sexuality, and performativity that cuts across all the media she worked as painter, idiosyncratic draughtsman, and prolific theater designer. Spanning two floors and six decades of work, the exhibition brings together fascinating examples of the changing style of this largely self-taught artist’s painting (presided over by her 1940s androgynous male nudes guarded by female lovers), erotic drawings, book illustrations, and samples her work in theater and design, contextualizing her production and theatrically fleshing out her performative person with photographic and filmic documentation, signature outfits, a projected assortment of select quotes by the artist, and music.
While arrayed along chronological lines, the exhibits are curated in eloquent and eloquently analyzed groupings that capture Fini’s feminism both as an advocate of the feminine and female desire as well as an explorer of a radically boundlessness sexuality. “Subverting the Muse,” “Empowering the Feminine,” “Metamorphosis and Sexual Sorcery,” “Intellectual Explorations of Sexuality,” and “The Corporeal” are a few of such groupings’ titles that speak volumes of both the timeliness of Fini’s sexual politics and the earliness of her revolt, and are convincingly illustrated by her representations of both men and women, her empowering evocation of sorcery, mythology and nature, her work’s unrestricted erotics, ranging from androgynous objects of female desire to homoeroticism and Sadean sadomasochism, and the fluidity of gender and sexuality emanating from her images, disguises, and words.
November 16, 2018 – January 26, 2019
Sprüth Magers, Los Angeles
“The curve is a frozen moment,” said Bridget Riley in an interview with The Telegraph, “This side contracts. That side extends. When we see a painted curve we somehow recognize that.” This gathering of work from across Riley’s rigorous and focused career gives a viewer an opportunity to test that observation. From Riley’s early experiments with pointillism, Pink Landscape (1960), to her recent paintings and wall murals consisting of subtly-modulated, colored discs, this show is arranged by “conceptual and compositional affinity rather than chronology.” Seen in this way, what emerges is a set of related concerns—the stripe, for instance—which can then be traced across the artist’s career. More than a survey-text example of Op Art, Riley’s work asks for the perceptual and bodily investment of the viewer; a recognition, a frozen moment, a curve, a line.
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 November below.
November 17, 2018 – January 10, 2019
Women and Their Work (Austin)
Tammie Rubin’s handcrafted objects depict explorations of African American migration stories, particularly her own parents in the 1950s and 1960s, from the rural South to the Midwest. Timely in their haunting aura, the objects made of lab glass and sculptural material are made from found objects, appropriating familiar shapes like funnels, eggs, vases, candle holders, and, notably, cones. The artist then paints a series of 17-26 and intricately hand-etches a flask to emit a visual timeline of her parent’s journey, when the Civil Rights Movement was prominent and the Civil Rights Act was effective in 1960. Many of the objects are flanked with two holes that resemble eye holes, further indicating racial tension, unfortunately relevant still. Other elaborate adornments on the objects include pointillated maps or trails, lines and patterns. Grouped together the works release the nature of such moves; discomfort, uncertainty, but also auras of surreal and sensuality. This is a new body of work shown at the Women and Their Work Gallery in Austin, where Rubin currently resides, being raised in the Midwest.
September 1 – December 30, 2018
Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers
Zimmerli Art Museum exhibits MacArthur Foundation “genius” grantee and author/illustrator of the renowned Dykes to Watch Out For comic (1983-2008, syndicated in over fifty alternative newspapers), Alison Bechdel’s primary bodies of work including original drawings and sketches, activist ephemera, large-scale self-portraits, and even a reconstructed model of the set for the musical Fun Home. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2006) is a graphic memoir Bechdel created exploring her relationship with her father, coming out, and his possible suicide. This New York Times bestseller was also the basis of the Tony-award winning musical of the same name from which the Fun Home model set was made. Dykes to Watch Out For precluded that, which explored the lives of a group of lesbian friends. Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama (2012) follows her relationship with her mother, girlfriends, and therapists, and examines psychoanalytic theory. All of her work is created with humor and style via universally relatable and personable stories on love, acceptance, community, and social justice. Her solo exhibit is complemented by a selection of work by contemporary graphic memoirists Thi Bui (The Best We Could Do) documenting immigration and assimilation; Ellen Forney (Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me: A Graphic Memoir), managing bipolar disorder while retaining passion and creativity; and Iraq veteran Maximilian Uraiarte (White Donkey: Terminal Lance), satirizing daily life in the United States Marine Corps. This unique juxtaposition of work resembles both the variety of timely topics explored in the medium with a breadth of relatable style, but also the ability of these artists to connect to broad audiences by bringing print to paper to the contemporary.
October 13, 2017 – February 17, 2019
The Underground Museum (Los Angeles)
A rare thunderstorm marked the occasion of Deana Lawson’s October opening at Los Angeles’s Underground Museum. A flash and a bang and the power in the galleries went suddenly out. Soon, people were holding up their cell phones and turning on their flashlight apps. It was like a scene out of a movie—each person’s sightline illuminated, as they swept and focused their glances on Lawson’s photographs. Primarily Lawson photographs black individuals in a range of interiors and exteriors, singly and in groups. A pictorial sharpness and a meticulous attention to the psychodynamics of everyday life circumscribe the boundaries of her engrossing practice. The people and props that appear in her photographs are often posed and placed with great care; the resulting effect is a studied naturalism, which might entrap an otherwise lazy viewer with its claims to “reality.” The title of the exhibition is “planes” which might suggest an altogether other reading of these photos, as spatial constructions wherein the social is imprinted. Eventually, the lights came back on, but Lawson’s photographs continued their troubling of photographic practice.
September 4 – December 22, 2018
Pomona College Museum of Art
Rigorous eclecticism links the 100+ works running throughout this (now sadly posthumous) retrospective of the West Coast conceptual painter Marcia Hafif. Entitled A Place Apart, the artist’s solitary and meditative drawings are put into coordination with ephemera from her archive (notebooks and writings) and a few choice paintings. Building models, planting schedules, reflections on Chinese poetry, constellations of the zodiac, and spirals and mazes; these are but a few of the elements of Hafif’s practice as reflected in the retrospective’s organization. Throughout the survey there is an insistent focus on the creation and maintenance of the spaces for contemplation and retreat. In addition to shedding further light on this understudied artist, Pomona College honors one of its alumni—Hafif enrolled in 1947. The exhibition is accompanied by a handsome catalogue, and includes a new site-specific wall writing work, entitled Cooking Fish.
September 13, 2018 – January 27, 2019
El Museo del Barrio
Liliana Porter moved from Buenos Aires (b. 1941) to New York in 1964 where she confounded the avant-garde New York Graphic Workshop and participated in its conceptualist reformation of printmaking. A still understudied yet highly acclaimed artist—recently hailed as one of Latin American Art’s “radical women”—Porter has worked in variety of media including works on canvas, photography, sculpture, installation, video and more recently theater, and has become widely known for her playful poetic mixture of the absurd with the lyrical and the dramatic through whimsical “theatrical vignettes,” enlivened by mass produced figurines, that variously comment on the fragility and brutality of the human condition with humor, compassion, philosophical and existential profundity. Collected from flee markets around the world, these figurines, says the artist, “are mere appearance, insubstantial ornaments, but, at the same time, have a gaze that can be animated by the viewer, who, through it, can project the inclination to endow things with an interiority and identity.”
Her first major museum survey in New York in 25 years, organized by SCAD Museum of Art, Other Situations brings together a variety of Liliana Porter’s works from 1973 to 2018 and focuses on the artist’s exploration of the conflicting line between reality and fiction, and the ways in which images are circulated and consumed. The exhibition highlights the fundamental distinction that Porter creates between the notions of “narrative” and “situation,” while bringing to the foreground the timely relevance of her provocation of representation, image dissemination and public life and recent series, such as Forced Labor.
October 1, 2018 – February 24, 2019
Under a changing numerical title that is stamped on the visitors’ hands and reveals the ever-increasing figure of people who migrated from one country to another last year, added to the changing number of migrant deaths recorded this year—10,142,926 on October 1—Tate Modern unveiled the series of interventions by the Cuban artist and activist Tania Bruguera at the Turbine Hall and the institution around it comprising the 4th annual Hyundai Commission. An ambitious multifaceted project, this work not only thematizes migration but exceeds the boundaries of Tate to mobilize community in line with the artist’s sociopolitical concerns and ongoing honing of “useful art.” In response to the extent and crisis of migration, not to mention Britain’s changing relationship with its neighbors, Bruguera variously focuses on the meaning and role of the neighbor. The work invites visitors to take part in symbolic actions in the Turbine Hall, from revealing the portrait of a migrant’s face hidden beneath a heat-sensitive floor, to crying under the influence of an organic compound, in an enforcement of empathy critical of its lack and failures. An essential part of this work is her collaboration with a team of Tate Modern’s real neighbors to whom she has resorted in order to teach the museum how to adapt to its local community’s needs and to create direct action and institutional changes. One of the first actions ensuing from this multi-month interaction, whose results are expected to outlast the duration of the project, has resulted in the renaming of Tate Modern’s north building the Boiler House after local activist Natalie Bell, paradigmatically honoring her community work and positive contribution to the lives of others in SE1. Chosen in fact by Bell, the face to be revealed from the heat of the visitors’ lying bodies is of Yousef, a young man who left Syria in 2011 and found emotional and practical support through SE1 United, a local charity that Bell helps to run. Bruguera sees this image as a hidden ‘horizontal mural’ that can be made visible only by those within touching distance and collective action. Read CAA’s recent interview with Tania Bruguera.
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 October below.
September 13 – December 7, 2018
Rodeo Gallery (Piraeus, Greece)
For its first show of the season in its new venue in Athens, Rodeo introduces the work of still understudied “un-feminist feminist” and kinetic-art pioneer, Liliane Lijn. The show includes a suite of drawings and a multimedia sculptural installation comprising two of the 1980s “goddesses” that exemplify Lijn’s multidisciplinary practice, interests, and radical exploration of the feminine, and resonates with the cultural background of Athens (a city where Liliane Lijn also lived in the early 1960s).
Conjunction of Opposites combines two figures The Lady of the Wild Things (1983) and The Woman of War (1986) made separately, when, in the 1980s, Lijn turned to an exploration of the feminine through apparitions of feminine energy and power. Ahead of their time, but in line with Lijn’s interests in science, technology, language, light, movement, mythology, and eastern philosophies characterizing her pioneering contribution to the 1960s avant-garde, they are computer controlled, combining LED lights and laser beams with an array of traditional and everyday materials, such as smoke and brush fibers. The Lady of the Wild Things is a bird goddess representing the lunar archetype and a machine activated by sound. The Woman of War is a singing goddess, the embodiment of an angry song that the artist felt came straight through the earth to her mouth. Their hybrid (mechanic and organic) bodies, as described by the artist—were combined in 1986 in an interactive installation that created a mesmerizing spiritual and sensual drama, staging an exchange of poetry and light in a cloud of artificial fog. When together, a laser light connects these “performative sculptures” through a disembodied beam of red light bouncing between their heads, activated by the six minute drama unraveling in Lijn’s voice.
These figures are “drawing together our mythological past for an imagined future, ” the artist has eloquently reminisced about their making. Underpinning her statement is a connection between the sacred and modern industry important to this work and Lijn who observes that many of the holiest places consecrated to the Goddess in ancient times, like Eleusis near Athens, are now transformed into oil refineries and power stations, wondering what archetypes might be hidden in the “bowels of steel mills or the endless intestines of oil refineries?” But while each sculpture distills symbolic references to female archetypes and mythological beings, embodying elements of seduction, power and spirituality, interacting in Conjunction of Opposites they shatter binary notions of gender “evoking femininity as a fluid cosmic fact,” conveying the radicalness and timeliness of Lijn’s exploration of the feminine that this show tries to show, and that variously connects the lasting manifestations of her feminist concerns with her “un-feminist” feminist turn away from fixed understanding of femininity through her turn to science and technology in the 1960s.
Liliane Lijn has lived and worked in London since the late sixties, after straddling the most radical and unexpected contexts and milieus of the postwar avant-garde—Paris, where she studied archeology, New York, and even Athens, where she lived with her then-partner Takis. She was born in New York to parents of Jewish Russian origins who escaped World War II through Cuban passports, and she grew up in various US cities and Switzerland.
October 3-28, 2018
Galatea Fine Art (Boston)
Artist Ronni Komarow’s solo show is centered on an interactive installation, Diary of a Bake Sale Diva, comprised of 400 hand-made papier-mâché cupcakes juxtaposed against the walls lined with 120 feet of hand-written, multi-hued script of comments, queries and inner musings around her experience as bake-sale coordinator for her son’s middle school. The visual display emits a playful vibe, with a relevant examination of public school funding today. Visitors are also invited to write with chalk on a blackboard their own bake sale experiences, exuding the artist’s community-driven ideals.
Exploring motherhood in art isn’t new but certainly the narratives explored often involve early parenthood and pregnancy; Komarow, rather, looks captivatingly at raising adolescents and the maneuvering and intermixing of motherhood, community service, school activities and artmaking. The exhibit title reflects the “tender mercies that have enriched her life, even if given inadvertently,” as so many aspects of motherhood, relatably, are. The exhibit includes artist books related these themes, also combining imagery and text, an accessible, refreshing element of the entire exhibit, in contrast to the oft-highbrow conceptual exhibitions reserved for the few.
September 22, 2018 – January 6, 2019
de Young Museum (San Francisco)
From the abaya to the hijab to the ‘burkini’—this wide-ranging exhibition explores the dynamism of Muslim fashion—at a moment when social and political hostilities towards muslims is at an all time high. For this reason alone the exhibition should be required viewing. Following on the heels of other travelling ‘blockbuster’ fashion exhibitions at the de Young (Jean-Paul Gaultier and Vivienne Westwood are two recent monographic examples), this show feels constituitively different, with its emphasis on religious life, culture, and expression. Curated by Reina Lewis, who teaches cultural studies at the University of the Arts London and the London College of Fashion, an in consultation with muslim fashion leaders in the Bay Area, the show is careful never to spectacularize the fashion on display (a mainstay of blockbuster fashion shows), but uses the garments as a jumping off point to consider religious life, Orientalism, subjugation and liberation (many of the mannequins wear hijabs, but some do not—reflecting the diversity of opinion as to whether or not the enforcement of the wearing of the hijab is an oppressive religious dictat).
Dian Pelangi is a recurring and innovative presence in the exhibition. One ensemble (pants, skirt, jacket, top, headscarf and cap) plays with different familiar Islamic forms—patterning commonly found in tiling and screens (mashribiyas). Pelangi’s designs as well as many others in the exhibition make the point with clarity that Muslim communities are not homogenous or monolithic.
September 27 – December 1, 2018
Delfina Foundation (London)
“Inhaling patriarchy and exhaling wo(fem)inism,” is how Noor Afshan Mirza captures the importance and the gender revolution ignited in The Scar, the film she and Brad Butler produced during their Delfina Foundation residency in London in 2015. In this installation the film appears in the form of an immersive five-screen video installation.
Inspired by a true event and comprising three chapters (The State of the State, The Mouth of the Shark and The Gossip), The Scar combines conspiracy, gangster, noir, politics, crash theory, fantasy and reality into a disrupted and disruptive narrative. Chapter one features four passengers on a journey in a black Mercedes, unaware of their significance as state archetypes. The fourth passenger is Yenge, the only female traveller, silenced by the genre conventions of women in film. Yenge’s noir voiceover begins to interrupt the male characters’ forced bravado in chapter two, as they are haunted by the Resistant Dead – the residual movements created from stories of people refusing to be forgotten. Tales of female emancipation and empowerment, are addressed in the last chapter, where a group of female activists transcend time, geographical borders and linguistic barriers to gather in a neutral nether-realm of conversation and mutual support. Like most of the work of this radical collaborative duo based The Scar takes on, and deconstructs, urgent and complex narratives around our relationship to state power engaging issues of inequality and corruption, while proposing a post-patriarchal near future.
Founders of the London-based center for artist film production no.w.here, and known for their fictional construct The Museum of Non Participation, (2008-20016) Mirza and Butler create work which spans the moving image, installation, sound, text and performed actions and explores themes of resistance, inequality, power and privilege, and (non) participation while questioning the deep state, narration, neoliberalism and investigating the use of women’s bodies as sites of resistance.
September 14 – October 27, 2018
Matthew Marks Gallery (New York)
“Suellen Rocca is one of the original members of the Hairy Who, the influential group of six Chicago artists who exhibited together for five years in the 1960s. This show, the first to concentrate on Rocca’s works on paper, presents thirty drawings she made between 1981 and 2017. Building on the unique graphic vocabulary and innovative compositions of her 1960s work, these drawings represent a turn toward imagery she describes as ‘more internal.’ Animals, trees, and unclassifiable creature are placed in densely patterned settings that carry a genuine emotional charge.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog. In the essay, Cat Kron notes Rocca’s “increased attention to the unconscious,” tracing parallels between the artist’s ‘anxious imaginings’ and the automatic drawing of the Surrealists. As Rocca puts it, ‘I just begin, and the drawing is a journey between me and the marks on the paper.’” (Matthew Marks; Press Release)
September 8 – December 9, 2018
Centre Culturel Suisse (Paris)
A choreographer and visual artist based in Zürich, Alexandra Bachzetsis is known for works in space that radically cut across the boundaries between dance, performance art, visual arts and theater and use the body as an artistic and critical apparatus. Her work investigates the choreographies of the body and how culture provides source material for its gestures. Through an interdisciplinary approach that often explores the role of popular culture and art play in the way in which bodies are inhabited and performed through choice and cliché, her works open emancipatory possibilities of transformation and communication.
An Ideal for Living, an exhibition specially conceived for Centre Culturel Suisse in Paris, focuses on Bachzetsis’ exploration of the subject of bodies over time and its subversive potential. Using various garments and accessories in a process of constructing imagination and desire, the artist explores ways in which bodies and objects are reversible, drawing inspiration from vogue culture. The exhibition comprises an installation of three simultaneous video projections in which a pair of teenagers, a boy and a girl with an uncanny resemblance, act out real-life situations and sing songs. It also includes low platforms that invite the visitors to strike poses or sing out loud, along with various gym equipment on which to warm up and shape up one’s body. Suggesting the potentially subversive ambiguities of body language, An Ideal for Living keeps posing the rather crucial question for efficient body politics, in the words of Paul B. Preciado: “Are you a Platonist of political anatomy or a Nietzschean of bodily movement? Are you more object or subject? How do you select your gestures? Have you ever stolen a gesture? Will you ever invent one?”