In response to COVID-19, artists, curators, institutions and organizations have initiated virtual exhibitions, presentations, screenings, and curated newsletters, among other innovative approaches, welcoming the public to online platforms and opening dialogues on a range of topics. May and June 2020 CWA Picks present a number of initiatives that not only demonstrate ways in which social media channels and websites can be repurposed in light of social distancing measures currently in place; but most importantly emphasize the social role of the arts being a healing positive force in these unprecedented challenging times. June Picks focus on the continued presence and significance of feminist art both independently and in conversation with each other, in the context of our current virtual living circumstance.
- Dream is Wonderful, Yet Unclear: an online exhibit of Maria Kapajeva considers the history of a community surrounding a textile mill in Narva, Estonia, now closed, where members of the artist’s family once worked. On view online May through June 2020, by Gallery of Photography Ireland.
- Artist video features by San Francisco Museum of Modern Art: Suzanne Lacy: Women Fight Back; Suzanne Lacy: We Are Here; Close Looking: The Artist Initiative with Vija Celmins; Vija Celmins: Saying the Unsayable; and Veja Celmins on her life in (and out of) the studio.
- White Chapel Gallery Artists’ Film International, since 2008, has premiered world-class artists from modern artists featuring Rosa Barba, Mwangi Hutter, Theresa Traore Dahlberg; Dominika Olszowy, Lisa Tan, Ailbhe Ní Bhriain; or Rhea Storr, Vika Kirchenbauer, Yu Gou and more on their YouTube channel.
- Michelle Handelman – BloodSisters: Leather Dykes and Sadomasochism: films and discussions in celebration of the 25 year anniversary of Michelle Handelman’s ground-breaking documentary, by the London BFI Flare 2020 Festival programmer Jay Bernard. The post-screening panel called BODILY AUTONOMY on the significance of Bloodsisters 25 years on–and current consent laws that restrict queer sexualities and subcultures also on view.
- Feminism is A Browser, a new film by Charlotte Eifler, was previewed online at the 58th Annual Ann Arbour Film Festival. The trailer can be viewed on vimeo here.
- Professional Organization for Women in the Arts is hosting ongoing online conversations around the arts during the COVID-19 crisis.
- Toward Freedom: A Progressive Perspective released a “Feminist emergency plan in the face of the Coronavirus crisis” in Chile by the Coordinadora Feminista 8M, a central force over the last five months of popular uprisings of millions of women.
- Johanna Unzueta: Tools for Life, a virtual exhibition by Modern Art Oxford.
- Google Art and Culture Online Feminist Exhibits: From large collections to smaller virtual exhibits, Google Art and Culture has several feminist and women-centered online offerings.
- Women Being Talks: the COVID-19 experience, a series of interviews by journalist Natalia Bonilla and WomenBeing Magazine Founder Monica Martins, through June.
- AIR Gallery’s Intimacy without Proximity, the collective of women-identified artists regularly shares resources, readings and prompts for communal making and thinking.
- Creative Mornings, a worldwide creative community, hosts free virtual zoom gatherings daily from locations across the globe.
- I Like Your Work podcast, hosted by artist and curator Erika b Hess, provides opportunities and resources centered around the weekly podcast interviews with creative people from painters and artists to collectors and curators.
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In response to COVID-19, artists, curators, institutions and organizations have initiated virtual exhibitions, presentations, screenings, and curated newsletters, among other innovative approaches, welcoming the public to online platforms and opening dialogues on a range of topics. May 2020 CWA Picks present a number of initiatives that not only demonstrate ways in which social media channels and websites can be repurposed in light of social distancing measures currently in place; but most importantly emphasize the social role of the arts being a healing positive force in these unprecedented challenging times. May Picks focus on the power of the collective and mutual support in the context of questioning our being in the world.
- Nottingham Contemporary, UK: 3D Online exhibition ‘Still I Rise: Feminisms, Gender, Resistance’, exploring a global history of resistance movement through a gendered perspective: https://www.nottinghamcontemporary.org/whats-on/still-i-rise/
- AutoZine ‘Friendship as a Form of Life’ on the importance of friendship: ‘We face each other without terms or convenient words, with nothing to assure us about the meaning of the movement that carries us toward each other. We have to invent, from A to Z, a relationship that is still formless, which is friendship…’: https://resonanceaudiodistro.org/2016/06/11/friendship-as-a-form-of-life-audiozine/ (Listen / Read / Print)
- Jackie Wang’s text ‘Oceanic Feeling & Communist Affect’, exploring the concept of oceanic feeling as a radical reorientation towards the world: https://friendship-as-a-form-of-life.tumblr.com/post/162453258727/friendship-as-a-form-of-life-friendship-as-a (Read / Print)
- Gasworks, a non-profit contemporary visual art organization working at the intersection between UK and international practices and debates, organizes online screenings. From May 11-17, 2020, Maryam Jafri, ‘Mouthfeel’, a short film investigating the politics of food production in the context of overconsumption: https://www.gasworks.org.uk/events/maryam-jafri-mouthfeel-online-screening/
- Hauser & Wirth, founded in Zurich, an international modern and contemporary art gallery presents an online exhibition Louise Bourgeois: Drawings 1947 – 2007, exploring Bourgeois’s rich emotional terrain: https://vip-hauserwirth.com/louise-bourgeois-works-on-paper/
- An Instagram exhibition #ARTISTSINQUARANTINE created by @giadapellicari involving artists living in ‘confined red areas’ in Italy due to coronavirus pandemic: https://www.instagram.com/artistsinquarantine/?hl=en
- Online platform How Can We Think of Art at a Time Like This?, co-curated by Barbara Pollack and Anne Verhallen, invites artists to exchange ideas at the time of current pandemic crisis: https://artatatimelikethis.com
- Micol Hebron, Los Angeles based artist, organises ‘Feminist Friday – USA’. Now run via Zoom, this community event provides a platform for discussion of contemporary feminist issues: https://www.facebook.com/Feminist-Friday-USA-1722541601351749
- The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA), the only major museum in the world solely dedicated to championing women through the arts, makes available online resources celebrating women artists who are changing the world: https://nmwa.org/nmwa–at-home
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.
March 6 – May 24, 2020
This important exhibition examines the formative investigations of Lygia Clark (b. 1920, Belo Horizonte–d. 1988, Rio de Janeiro), the pioneering Brazilian artist and founding member of the avant-garde Grupo Frente in Rio de Janeiro, and places significant chronological emphasis on her primary transition from figuration to abstraction and major series of geometric and concrete abstractions between 1948-1958. The exhibition traces the artist’s evolution in three organized sections: “The Early Years, 1948-1952”; “Geometric Abstraction, 1953-56”; and “Variation of Form: Modulating Space, 1957-58”. In 1956, Clark delivered a keynote lecture and spoke of painting as an “experimental field.” In her early experiments, she liberated the painting’s frame and explored space as an “organic and spatial line.” Clark envisioned spatial divisions as elastic and indeterminate and reinvigorated the pure grid of Neo-Plasticism through bodily and “vital” surfaces, a process of restructuring the plane of the canvas as a locus of exchange with the viewer. While much scholarly attention has been granted to her later therapeutic practices, Painting as an Experimental Field traces her formal painterly principles and early constructivist influences, ideas that will develop and mature in her profound contribution to Brazilian Neo-Concretism.
Mary H. Dana Women Artists Series Galleries, Rutgers University – Mabel Smith Douglass Library,New Brunswick, New Jersey
January 21 – April 3, 2020
The exhibition features the work of two exiled Venezuelan artists, Deborah Castillo and Érika Ordosgoitti, who respond to the increasingly repressive government of Venezuela and question the rising nationalism, economic inequality, and worsening social problems. It is part of the Mary H. Dana Women Artists Series and hosted by the Mabel Smith Douglass Library, the oldest continuous running exhibition space in the United States showcasing the work of emerging and established contemporary women artists. Castillo’s and Ordosgoitti’s artistic practice could be described as performance of protest. The female body featured in their work is imbued with agency and is able to effect social change. Their performative acts of disobedience and feminist social protests activate the body to challenge Venezuelan political regime and the country’s heteronormative patriarchal culture and canonical aesthetics.
In lieu of the Committee on Women in the Arts’ monthly write ups on select exhibitions, programs and scholarship that explore gender issues, feminist practices and the work of women artists from around the world and the United States, this month’s picks will focus on local highlights during the 2020 Annual Conference in Chicago.
Among them we would like to highlight the performance program curated by Out of Site Chicago for CWA’s Reception at HAUS and the Hokin Gallery, Columbia College Chicago during CAA 2020 on Thursday February 13. For more information and to RSVP, click here.
The evening celebrates the centennial of US women’s suffrage and the 50% women-centered content of this year’s conference, marking this monumental occasion while also acknowledging the discriminatory practices that limited voting rights for indigenous women and women of color, even after the passage of the 19th amendment. Seeking to extend conversations on gender, race, class and equality from a local and transnational perspective in light of the fraught history of inclusion in the US and this CWA-spearheaded initiative, Out of Site brings together two riveting, thought-provoking performances by Chicago-based artists Wannapa P-Eubanks and Alexandria Eregbu.
The 50/50 initiative’s spirit and the critical commemoration of US women’s suffrage underpin also several of the participatory projects and workshops of the 2020 ARTexchange program and exhibition that can be also explored during the CWA Reception. Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s 19th-century women’s suffrage address “Solitude of Self” is, for instance, the focus of Carol Flueckiger’s drawing workshop Solitude of Selfie, while the underside of the movement is addressed in UNDERBELLY, a participatory performance by Jennifer Natalya Fink and Julie Laffin. Click here to participate in this modern suffragette parade. For complete list of artists and workshops of 2020 ARTexchange click here.
CWA PICKS FOR CAA 2020 IN CHICAGO
Woman Made Gallery
Woman Made Gallery is a tax-exempt, not-for-profit organization founded in 1992. Its goal is to cultivate, promote and support the work of female-identified artists by providing exhibition opportunities, professional development, and public programs that invite discussion about what feminism means today.
Vaginal Davis: The White to be Angry at the Art Institute Chicago
at the Art Institute Chicago
February 1 – April 26, 2020
Mika Rottenberg: Easypiecesat
at the Bergman Family Gallery
October 2, 2019 – March 8, 2020
Female Trouble: Amanda Joy Calobrisi, Lilli Carré, Qinza Najm, Kathryn Refi, Frances Waite
at Western Exhibitions
January 10 – February 22, 2020
Margie Criner: Mind Over Matter
at Bert Green Fine Art
January 11 – February 22, 2020
Candida Alvarez: Estoy Bien
at Monique Meloche Gallery
February 1 – March 28, 2020
American Medina: Stories of Muslim Chicago
at Chicago History Museum
Why women should vote
at Jane Addams Hull House
True Peace: the presence of justice
at Jane Addams Hull-House Museum
Facing Freedom in America
at Chicago History Museum
at Gallery Victor Armendariz
January 10 – February 28, 2020
Weaving Beyond the Bauhaus
at the Art Institute Chicago
August 3, 2019 – February 17, 2020
Robyn O’Neil: The Tapestries
at Western Exhibitions
January 10 – February 22, 2020
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.
dieFirma, New York, New York
October 13, 2019 – January 5, 2020
The inaugural exhibition at dieFirma, a new gallery and arts space nestled in the bustling Bowery at 32A Cooper Square, New York, celebrates the life of multidisciplinary artist Gloria Kisch (1941-2014). An impressive presentation reveals the range and significance of Kisch’s abstract sculptures and highlights her late series of metalwork constructions called Bells (2000-2003) and Flowers (2007-13); functional furniture and objects (benches and chairs); and early hard-edge paintings from the 1960s. Also displayed are ephemera from the artist’s extensive personal archive. A large body of drawings by British artist Jane Gifford accompanies the installation. Gifford turned to Kisch’s sculptures for inspiration and produced a collection of smaller watercolors that offer a fascinating interplay and homage; the gentle conversion of three-dimensional volumetric space through line and gesture encourages a subdued reciprocity between the two artists. Kisch’s metalwork equally invites multiple readings and comparisons to likeminded artists who crossed media and arbitrarily ignored traditional fine art, craft and design hierarchies. Utilizing hand-forged stainless steel, Kisch’s statuesque Bells take on a corporeal presence—linked geometric elements vertically hang, some extenuated and stretched, others widely berthed. But it is through their mythic presence that the viewer makes connections to sculptors who gloriously filled and emptied space, recalling the mobiles of Alexander Calder and totems of David Smith, the quasi-furniture of Isamu Noguchi, the calibrated wire constructions of Ruth Asawa or the scaled modular systems of Gego. Kisch’s series of wall-mounted Flowers bring a playful pop of color with their reflective metal petals and flexible use of materials. Kisch’s own history is equally as colorful.
San Marco Gallery in Archbishop Alemany Library, Dominican University, San Rafael, California
November 12, 2019 – January 17, 2020
Using real-life work data and personal narratives, artist Sawyer Rose highlights the pervasive inequalities working women face via visualization sculpture. Rose collects data herself from female-identifying workers from across the US, and translates it into large-scale installations that visualize the number of hours women log at paid and unpaid jobs, demonstrating the physical, emotional, and practical effects of disproportionate labor loads. With the installation, she photographs the women lifting and carrying her sculpture, visually bearing the real and physical burdens. Dawline, a teaching artist, teaches elementary school and balances multiple volunteer art tutoring positions. Rose’s installation for Dawline is dozens of gold and silver leafed objects hanging from the ceiling, made of linen, cotton, rope, gold and silver leaf, metal clasps and rings, wood, stones, acrylic, and enamel. Dawline is depicted in a photo next to the installation with the stones on her lap, representing the weight of both her paid and unpaid jobs. The accompanying text includes statistics around volunteerism, disproportionately falling on women. The multi-layered, educational, and visually driven exhibit, says the artist, “may not represent your life or your particular situation, but…definitely depicts the lives of many women you know and love, women who work with you or for you…The good news, though, is that everyone can reap the benefits of a gender-equitable workforce: increased Gross Domestic Product (GDP), more profitable businesses, and healthier, happier partners and children.”
lokal_30, Warsaw, Poland
November 29, 2019 – January 24, 2020
The widely recognized 1969 essay by Carol Hanisch, an American feminist activist, entitled “The Personal Is Political,” was not known in communist Poland in 1970s. And yet, many women artists, including Natalia Lach-Lachowicz, known as Natalia LL, were using their bodies and most intimate surroundings to explore what it meant to be and become a woman. In her 1972 manifesto “Transformative Attitude,” Natalia LL wrote that “Art is in the process of becoming in every instant of reality,” and that she “records common events.” Since her studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Wrocław, Poland, and in her artistic career spanning almost 50 years, Natalia LL has been using photography and film to investigate everyday bodily activities such as sleeping, eating, or speaking. Her works engage with issues concerning the rise of consumer culture and the fetishization of objects and bodies. She is known as a pioneer of feminist avant-garde in Poland and has become one of the first Polish women artists to be influential in the international feminist art movement of 1970s. The exhibition in lokal_30 features some of the key works of the artist alongside photographs which Natalia LL sent for an exhibition in Paramedia gallery in Berlin in 1974 and which have never been displayed in Poland.
Central Museum of Textiles, Łódź, Poland
October 5, 2019 – March 15, 2020
Łódź, a city in central Poland, has been cultivating its textile industry traditions since the 19th century. The International Trennial of Tapestry is the oldest and most important presentation of phenomena connected to the medium of textiles. For the first time in its history, the formula of the Triennial has been opened and artists themselves could apply to participate. It has also been enriched by the introduction of the role of the curator, Marta Kowalewska, and focus on an overarching key theme, which for the 16th edition is “Breaching Borders.” The understanding of borders is multi-layered. Artists from 21 countries in 55 selected works explore the threats and fears marking our contemporary condition, historical references, and personal stories that question the concept of borders as sources of conflict and trauma. The theme also references textiles and their place as one of liberated arts on one hand, and their structure enabling interlacing and layering of meanings and perspectives. The exhibition includes works of many significant women artists, such as Dorte Jensen, Ola Kozioł, Lucy Brown, Lisa Palm, Caroline Achaintre, Agata Borowa, Dobrosława Kowalewska, Anne Wilson or Joanna Malinowska, among others. It also features the unique work titled Your Things, a 20-meter fabric created in the Center for Foreigners in Łuków, Poland by Chechen refugees Zaira Avtaeva, Zalina Tavgereeva, Liana Borczaszvilli, Makka Visengereeva, Khava Bashanova, and Alina Malcagova, who await international protection. The work was created as part of a mini-grant of the Feminist Fund implemented in cooperation with the For the Earth Association according to a concept developed by Pamela Bożek.
Boise Art Museum, Idaho
June 8, 2019 – April 26, 2020
Artist Margaret Jacobs couples her steel sculptures celebrating Indigenous culture with early twentieth century ironworking tools, exploring the tension and harmony between forces of nature and humans. Jacobs’ sculptures, such as Steel Medicine, depict medicinal plants with a strong aesthetic via the dark color and heavy materiality of the metal, complemented by the softness of the sinewy shadows of the sculpture on the wall, emphasizing too the resilience and fragility of nature. Jacobs, a member of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, created two new series, Steel Medicine and Survival Medicine, on view, especially for this exhibit. “My culture inspires me to create pieces charged with power, strength, and beauty,” writes the artist in her statement, and in turn, “I believe my work celebrates indigenous culture with a bold, powerful aesthetic.”
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.
Americas Society/Council of the Americas, New York, New York
October 9, 2019 – January 25, 2020
Alice Miceli (born in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil) works with time-based tools, such as video or still camera, which she uses to produce works focused on time manipulated through mathematical formulas in order to represent its complex relationship with history and the body. Projeto Chernobyl (2006-2010), included in the 29th Bienal de São Paulo in 2010, includes a series of radiographs documenting the effects of Chernobyl’s nuclear disaster following the Soviet nuclear plant explosion of April 26th, 1986. Apart from formal experimentation core to her artistic methodology, Miceli uses investigative travel and archival research to explore trauma inflicted on social, cultural, and natural landscapes. For the purpose of this project she developed a specific photographic processes that capture contamination caused by gamma radiation, invisible to the naked eye and to traditional methods of photography. Her radiographic technique makes the destructive radioactive contamination visible raising issues around the occupation of land but also the act of looking itself—how to look and by what means. Miceli’s work questions ways in which our bodies are affected in a biopolitical manner, and how they are militarized and economized in contemporary society.
5th edition of Contemporary Art Program 2019 at Culture palace Ziemeļblāzma, Riga, Latvia
October 20 – December 12, 2019
Curated by Jana Kukaine, a feminist scholar from Riga, Latvia, the title of the exhibition references both a Latvian traditional folk song, executed during national celebrations of Mother’s Day in Latvia and Elvis Presley’s song Home Is Where the Heart Is. These cultural references present the home as a place of comfort and belonging. Yet, the utopian vision of home is disturbed by the still existing gender imbalance concerning responsibilities in the making of a home. It is usually the woman, often labeled a domestic goddess, who looks after the home. Six Latvian women artists, Anda Magone, Elīna Brasliņa, Eva Vēvere, Katrīna Gaile, Mētra Saberova, and Rasa Jansone, in their works presented in the exhibition (one of the events of the centenary program of the Latvian State) challenge the widespread gendered ideology of domesticity while raising issues concerning unpaid labor, social reproduction, and affective care. Home is associated with a number of rituals, objects, values, practices, duties, and responsibilities, inscribed into the division of the public and the private and the oppressive mapping onto gender roles. Social reproduction and sexual normativity is contextualized by the artists within neoliberal and late-capitalist frameworks to question and call for a shared responsibility in creating a home.
Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio
September 21 – December 29, 2019
Three Ohio-born visual artists exhibit together for the first time in HERE: Ann Hamilton, Jenny Holzer and Maya Lin at the Wexner Center for the Arts. The artists’ disparate styles and perspectives shown together create new connections and conversations between art, space, methodology, and the questions each of them pose through their work. Hamilton presents when an object reaches for your hand, using outmoded scanners creating ethereal images from Columbus campus special collections juxtaposed with her personal objects. The images are presented in book form stacks and visitors are welcome to take a print; two of the images are also large-scale murals in Columbus; both projects encouraging accessibility for university archives. Holzer presents a new installation of her renowned commonly-held slogan posters, Truisms (1977-79) and Inflammatory Essays (1979-82), statements influenced by diverse manifestos. Holzer’s vocabulary is screened throughout the city to further the impact of her work outside the gallery, too. Lin’s site specific installations were created with thousands of steel pins and glass beads resembling Ohio waterways, considering how rivers have both shaped and been shaped by humans, and questioning the impact of fracking and global warming. Lin’s permanent work, Groundswell (1992-93) greets visitors as they enter the Center, inspired by Native American mound landscapes from her youth. The accompanying gallery guide includes essays from writers, curators, and educators with Ohio connections, further contextualizing the far-reaching exhibit.
Mary H. Dana Women Artists Series Galleries, Douglass Library, New Brunswick, New Jersey
September 3 – December 13, 2019
Curated by art historian and curator Tatiana Flores, Sea and Self presents artworks produced by Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons (b. 1959, Matanzas, Cuba) from the late 1960s to present, ruminating on the sea. Campos-Pons draws on the rich Caribbean tradition of sea image while exploring self and the female body. Depictions in works such as She Always Knew of the Space In-Between (2019), include silhouette drawings of African sculptures, referencing female gender; and Nesting IV (2000), four large-scale Polaroids depicting the artist as split by the sea, connect through her uniting hair. Intersecting environmental humanities, personal history, and gender in beautiful, multi-colored and mixed media, Campos-Pons’ work exudes a unique and relatable perspective, provoking new inquiries around feminism and art.
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.
National Museum of Women in the Arts
September 19, 2019 – January 20, 2020
Judy Chicago (a feminist artist renowned for the 1970s mixed media installation, The Dinner Party), takes on her own demise in this exhibition, which includes 40 works of painted porcelain and glass and two large bronze sculptures in her hallmark bold, graphic style. Other themes captured in this exhibit are the five stages of grief and species endangered by the action or inaction of humans. Chicago’s ever-present feminist content challenges the culture that prizes youth and beauty, often over the suffering of other creatures. The Price of Love (after Kollwitz) (kiln-fired glass paint on black glass, 2015) shows two figures in a tight kneeling embrace, hands covering their faces, with the script: “Grief / DESOLATION / Sorrow / LOSS” all painted with white on black, evoking the depth of sorrow. The imagery remarkably reflecting the style of Käthe Kollwitz’s prints depicting the sorrows of those left behind after World War I, notably in people tightly embracing. This tribute by Chicago to an artist who came before her exudes the layers of meanings in her work and refreshingly acknowledges the myth of the individual artist. Beyond content, her continued commitment to feminism is also echoed through her choice of media historically associated with women’s artistic endeavors, thus exposing the socially constructed ideals of high versus decorative art, as famously done in The Dinner Party.
West Virginia University Libraries
Deadline: December 31, 2019
West Virginia University takes on a contentious topic on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment to the US Constitution (granting women the right to vote), and the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (enforcing voting rights for racial minorities) by looking at the efforts to suppress the votes of women and minorities since 1920. The WVU Libraries are calling for artwork using the template of a round button design (digital or otherwise; the Library has round canvases to disperse should artists need) around the major themes: Information/Disinformation, Access/Intimidation, Legislation/Legal Questions, Voter Fraud, and Advocacy/Action. Selected works will be on display at the University’s main campus Library from August 2020 through June 2021, and selected designs from the exhibit will be made into buttons/stickers. Located in Morgantown, artists have a great opportunity to make an impact in a local hub of arts activity in an otherwise underserved region of Appalachia.
Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade, Serbia
September 21, 2019 – January 20, 2020
This is the first major European retrospective of Marina Abramović, a female artist renowned for her radical performances developed since 1970s. The location of the exhibition, the final on its tour (it was first shown in 2017 at the Moderna Museet (Stockholm, Sweden), and then traveled to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (Humlebæk, Denmark), Henie Onstad Kunstsenter (Oslo, Norway), Bundeskunsthalle (Bonn, Germany), Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi (Florence, Italy) and the Centre of Contemporary Art ‘Znaki Czasu’ (Toruń, Poland)) is significant, as Belgrade is Abramović’s place of birth. It is also where her artistic career began.
The artist has experimented with performance art and used her body as a method and a medium, relentlessly testing its boundaries and limits and challenging social and cultural stereotypes. The exhibition reviews Abramović’s over fifty-year long career, focusing on chronological phases in her artistic practice and emphasizing her solo career from 1991 until 2017. It is a rich display of over 120 works including a range of objects, photographs, paintings, drawings, video installations, films, and archival materials. There is also a live segment presented through re-performances by local and international performers.
White Cube Bermondsey, London
September 12 – November 3, 2019
White Cube’s exhibition captures Mona Hatoum’s new and recent installation, sculpture and work on paper. Hatoum, a Palestinian multimedia and installation artist, throughout her career has created a rich aesthetic vocabulary that often references the grid and geometry as references to systems of social control. In the exhibition the artist reflects on surveillance systems and mobilizes issues concerned with mobility, conflict, and power. Once again working with the grid, Hatoum uses industrial materials such as steel, brick, concrete, rubble, and glass—but also human hair—and collapses them into light, a suspended cube. Her visual poetics tests spatial and spherical limits and explores possibilities for formal but perhaps also social and political collapse. The theme of the grid and its negotiation overarches the works presented at the exhibition, the new installation Remains to be Seen (2019), Orbital I (2018), A Pile of Bricks (2019), Hair Mesh (2013), or Cells (2014), among others. Hatoum tests different confinements while exploring the basic form of the globe and questions the different and multiple boundaries that are imposed on society.
Wave Hill, Bronx, New York
September 15 – December 1, 2019
Bahar Behbahani’s (b. 1973, Tehran, Iran) site-specific installation titled All water has a perfect memory. [the period is intentional] is settled somewhat precariously along the eight-acre wooded expanse at Wave Hill, the Bronx public garden and cultural center known for supporting dynamic contemporary art projects and exhibitions. The installation’s primary feature is the large presence of a land-bound raft constructed in the shape of an octagon, ornamented with inlaid mosaic and tile, and supported on plastic barrels. Behbahani’s structure fosters multiple discussions about the garden’s surrounding woodlands and ecosystems and engages in prescient ecological debates. At the same time, the artist’s centerpiece addresses the historical flux of migration and the restriction of geographical borders. The title aptly recalls a poetic line from writer Toni Morrison’s essay, “The Site of Memory”: “All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was.” In her research-based practice, Behbahani heavily layers and builds upon her cultural and aesthetic references, and water plays a central biographical and performative role in her videos and paintings. Likewise, water functions as a primary visual and spiritual element in the Persian Gardens of Iran, the majestic walled paradises and civilian sanctuaries dating back to the sixth-century BC. Water was a foremost compositional cornerstone of these historic gardens that were organized on a fourfold plan around central pools or fountains from which flowed four channels. At Wave Hill, the manifestation of the octagonal pool, raft or “fountain,” accessorized with botanical panel designs, forges further connections to eight of the world’s contested rivers: the Euphrates, Ganges, Hudson, Karun, Mississippi, Rio Grande, and Wouri. Moreover, the octagon appears as both a sheltering and perilous object. As a stationary structure, it conjures the urgent political narratives on mobility and circulation that underline the fraught experiences of migrants and refugees. In the accompanying pamphlet, the artist explained these multifold references, stating that “the project made her think about the ‘complexity’ of building a ‘worthy raft,’ one that would be able to ‘move people, food, belongings as well as culture and memories to safety…” The project also questions broader horticultural concerns about what determines “native” flora and species. Additional technological components activate river sounds, a meditative element arranged by musician Maciek Schejbal. In the near future, the octagon will hopefully find a way to reach water, holding with it a bounty of new and old memories.
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 September below.
Luther W. Brady Art Gallery, The George Washington University, Washington, DC
August 9 – December 15, 2019
Beyond the glitz and glamour of the fashion industry are serious timely questions around waste and consumerism in the garment industry, which is what the contemporary artists and filmmakers explore in Fast Fashion/Slow Art. The diverse group of emerging and established contemporary artists and filmmakers from China, Denmark, Germany, Norway, and the United States includes Julia Brown, Carole Frances Lung (Frau Fiber), Cat Mazza, Senga Nengudi, Martha Rosler, Hito Steyerl, Martin de Thurah, Rosemarie Trockel, and Wang Bing, who collectively encourage scrutiny of today’s garment industry. For example, Bing’s documentary installation, 15 hours, was shot in a factory in China, capturing the labor of some of its 300,000 workers, emitting a meditation on the contemporary meaning of work in present-day China. Also available during the exhibition are two web programs, ”Planet Money Makes a T-Shirt” and “Sweatshop—Deadly Fashion.”
Tokyo Photographic Art Museum
August 14 – October 14, 2019
The exhibition of artworks by Polish women artists features moving image, which has a rich history in Polish art scene. Women artists have used video and photography even though during the Cold War those working “behind” the Iron Curtain had little access to equipment and training. Despite hardships, women experimented with video expression. Following democratization of the country after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the introduction of the free market economy, Poland welcomed economic growth and material affluence. This contributed to deepening income gaps and rapid changes in value. Polish critical art of the 1990s addressed those contradictions in society. Those who were born under the Communist regime and brought up after democratization started looked back with a critical distance to explore new perspectives and question complex social and political conditions. This has driven a rich and diverse landscape for moving image, including the use of more accessible media. The exhibition features works from 1970s onwards questioning contradictions of the global economic system. It includes some of the key figures in Polish art scene including Bogna Burska, Izabella Gustowska, Zuzanna Janin, Katarzyna Kozyra, Anna Kutera, Natalia LL, Ewa Partum, Agnieszka Polska, Joanna Rajkowska, and Alicja Rogalska, among others.
American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, Washington, DC
September 3 – October 20, 2019
The past few years has witnessed an urgent reappraisal of the Abstract Expressionist canon in the United States. Recent game-changers, such as the Women of Abstract Expressionism exhibition and catalogue (2016), and steady growth in the art market, have turned a sharp eye on the women whose careers received little critical and financial support during and after the heyday of heroic gesturalism and figurative abstraction in the 1950s. Norma Broude, the distinguished feminist art historian and professor emerita at The American University, has organized an exhibition that argues for a reframing of the geographic center of New York, and presents a two-person show on Grace Hartigan (1922-2008) and Helene Herzbrun (1922-1984). Both artists, who had a cordial friendship, had lived and exhibited for many decades around the Baltimore and Washington, DC region, and many of the paintings on view are drawn from local private collections and museums. Hartigan, the more celebrated of the two, has received considerable scholarly attention. Her early career in New York was shaped by social relationships with the first generation of Abstract Expressionists, including Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning (a seminal influence), and the seductive riffraff of modern life in the fifties around her studio on the Lower East Side. Hartigan often incorporated the popular and material subjects—the “vulgar and vital”—from her surroundings, and Baltimore eventually proved to have much to offer. Her early artistic development was also largely influenced by her own study of paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and transformative friendships with poets Frank O’Hara and Barbara Guest. By 1953, she had the attention of Alfred Barr, Jr. and curator Dorothy C. Miller, who accessioned her Baroque-inspired masterpiece, Persian Jacket (1952), into the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art; this was followed by her participation as the only woman artist in MoMA’s groundbreaking exhibitions, 12 Americans (1956) and The New American Painting (1958-1959). Broude’s catalogue essays purposefully consider the negative impact on Hartigan’s career after leaving New York City for Baltimore, and the artist’s serious disappointment in the regional artistic scene. This shifted to some degree when she found support in her new intellectual community as a revered professor and mentor at the Maryland Institute of Art (MICA), Hoffberger School. Comparably, Broude develops a fascinating biographical sketch of Helene Herzbrun, whose archives are held at American University. Herzbrun experienced similar challenges in her desire to establish critical recognition outside the parameters of New York and beyond the stylistic popularity of Color Field painting practiced by her male contemporaries in Washington. Herzbrun maintained an important correspondence with Ab-Ex artist Jack Tworkov, with whom she worked as a MFA student at AU. She was a faculty member in the University’s art department until her death in 1984. Addressing the limited opportunities for artists in the area, Herzbrun co-founded an important cooperative space called Jefferson Place Gallery in DC. Hartigan and Herzbrun make exciting visual partners in Reframing Abstract Expressionism. Their painterly dialogues on nature and the landscape interrogate the creative process and explore the persistent motivations to paint abstractly while negotiating representation, structure, and spontaneity, all essential components of the living language of Abstract Expressionism. This exhibition expands our understanding of the networks of production and distribution of ideas and resources on Abstract Expressionism to the regional centers of the country.
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 – 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.