CAA News Today

Each month, CAA’s Committee on Women in the Arts selects the best in feminist art and scholarship. The following exhibitions and events should not be missed. Check the archive of CWA Picks at the bottom of the page, as several museum and gallery shows listed in previous months may still be on view or touring.

August 2015

Beverly Semmes: Feminist Responsibility Project (FRP)
Weatherspoon Art Museum
Bob and Lissa Shelley McDowell Gallery, University of North Carolina, 500 Tate Street, Greensboro, NC 27413
May 24–September 6, 2015

The Weatherspoon Art Museum at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro presents the Feminist Responsibility Project (FRP) by the New York artist Beverly Semmes. The exhibition features drawings, ceramics, suspended and illuminated glass sculpture, and video work.

“The metaphors and imagery of Beverly Semmes’s art typically flow in this direction: from the female body and out into the landscape,” Ingrid Schaffner wrote in the 2011 exhibition catalogue from Rowan University Art Gallery. This is noticeably experienced through the large fabric sculpture, Buried Treasure, on view at the Weatherspoon. Buried Treasure, made of black crushed velvet, has one arm of the dress snaking its way off the wall and across the floor of the gallery, enveloping the active space. Continuing to connect mediums in space, her video, Kick, depicts Semmes kicking a reddish-pink potato across icy terrain, the color reflective of the pot sculptures dotting the gallery landscape.

“Her totemic and abstract works create alternative lenses from which to see the body in relationship to domestic or natural landscapes,” says the Weatherspoon exhibition description. In her works on paper, Semmes manipulates photographs in vintage “gentlemen” magazines, as she calls them, covering various parts of the depicted female bodies in ink to perform “a personal act of feminist censorship, blotting out the literal to leave behind abstract, nuanced images that speak in a different voice.”

Semmes will be at the Weatherspoon on Thursday, September 3, 2015, at 6:00 PM for an artist’s talk.

Linda Nochlin: Women Artists: The Linda Nochlin Reader
Edited by Maura Reilly
Recent book release

In addition to two new essays in this recently released volume, Women Artists: The Linda Nochlin Reader, readers are treated to twenty-nine of Nochlin’s essays over her career, including “Women Artists after the French Revolution” and “Starting from Scratch: The Beginnings of Feminist Art History.”

The new anthology includes the provocative essay, “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?”—a continuing relevant question. In May of this year, ARTnews revisited Nochlin’s groundbreaking 1971 essay (originally published in ARTnews), exploring women in the arts today, and including eight contemporary artists replies to Nochlin’s essay. In the New York Times Sunday Book Review, the journalist Chris Kraus acclaims, “Nochlin writes with a dazzling mix of erudition and candor, but what’s most remarkable about her work is that it’s driven by an exhaustive investigation as to why and how certain artworks have been meaningful to her.”

Presenting artist monographs alongside the essays, the volume collects Nochlin’s writings on artists such as Mary Cassatt, Louise Bourgeois, Cecily Brown, Kiki Smith, Miwa Yanagi, and Sophie Calle, written in a voice that feels as contemporary as when they first appeared. Women Artists: The Linda Nochlin Reader is published by Thames and Hudson and edited by Maura Reilly, founding curator of the Elizabeth Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum in New York.

A. L. Steiner: Come & Go
Blum and Poe
2727 South La Cienega Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90034
July 2–August 22, 2015

The press release from Blum and Poe presents the new exhibition Come & Go by the artist A. L. Steiner in dramatic fashion: “Between the interlude of state-sanctioned exploitation and violence, the Amerikkkin project of mass incarceration and slavery, the uncertain future of California’s viability, and planetary implosion, A. L. Steiner presents an overview of her photo archive from 1995–2015.”

Despite the chance of planetary implosion, the exhibition by Steiner is a constructed “relaxing space” dedicated to the viewing of print work. Sparsely covered white walls are adorned only with a limited number of photographs and collages, while attention in the gallery is focused on a wooden desk and file system. Through the installation, and with an archivist on hand daily, the audience is encouraged to explore twenty years of Steiner’s work.

“A. L. Steiner utilizes constructions of photography, video, installation, collage, collaboration, performance, writing and curatorial work as seductive tropes channeled through the sensibility of a skeptical queer eco-feminist androgyne,” her website bio states.

In addition to the exhibition, Steiner has collaborated with a “revolving cast of subversives and interlocutors,” including a collaboration with Shinichiro Okuda/WAKA WAKA and additional live performances by Brave Accepter, Jibade-Khalil Huffman on August 15, and YACHT on August 22; and an archivist to guide viewers daily, 10:00 AM–1:00 PM and 2:00–6:00 PM.

Women Make Movies: 2015 Catalogue
Online and Print Resource

This thirty-two-page special-edition catalogue is the first in ten years released by Women Make Movies. Focused on their collection, the catalogue includes briefs and data on classics that focus on feminism and gender studies as well as films from diverse regions from across the globe. Highlighted are Academy Award winners such as Saving Face, “a harshly realistic view of violence against women in South Asia,” and new releases, Regarding Susan Sontag and Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth—illuminating portraits of the literary giants.

The catalogue is meant to facilitate rental or purchasing access to the Women Make Movies holdings. Established in 1972, Women Make Movies is a “multicultural, multiracial, non-profit media arts organization, which facilitates the production, promotion, distribution and exhibition of independent films and videotapes by and about women.” They provide distribution services and production assistance programs, while facilitating feminist media, including a special emphasis to support work by women of color.

Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960–1971
Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street, New York, NY 10019-5497
May 17–September 7, 2015

The Museum of Modern Art presents the first One Woman exhibition dedicated to the work of Yoko Ono. This retrospective is a survey of the decisive decade that led up to Ono’s unauthorized exhibition (One Woman Show, Museum of Modern [F] art, 1971), revalorizing one of the most misunderstood artists of the last sixty years.

Featuring Ono’s most celebrated pieces between 1960 and 1971, the exhibition brings together approximately 125 of Ono’s early objects, works on paper, installations, performances, audio recordings, and films, alongside rarely seen archival materials. During these years, Ono (born in Tokyo, 1933) moved between New York, Tokyo, and London. A pioneer in the international development of Conceptual art, experimental film, and performance art, Ono was then creating artworks that could exist as mere instructions, meant to be executed once, multiple times, or none. Since her early projects are often based on verbal or written instructions, the exhibited pieces focus in the participation on viewers, where the artist generously opens up to their diverse responses to “complete” her pieces, or perhaps towards a sense beyond a One-Woman proposal, but rather an invitation to a collaborative creativity.

Among the exhibited pieces to be highlighted are Grapefruit (1964), Ono’s influential book of instructions; the typescript for which is displayed here page by page—consisted of nothing but terse, open-ended instructions for readers to follow—and Half-A-Room (1967), an installation of bisected, incomplete, white-painted domestic objects. The film Cut Piece (1964), documentation of one of Ono’s seminal performances, is also on view. Here, Ono confronted issues of gender, class, and cultural identity by asking viewers to cut away pieces of her clothing as she sat quietly on stage. Cut Piece remains one of the most disturbing works of performance art of the 1960s, that stands as a foundation of feminist and body-centered art.

A Feminist Fiber Art Exhibition
Traveling Exhibition and Call for participation
First venue opens August 14, 2015

Organized by Iris Nectar Studio, this DIY feminist art exhibition will feature female artists from around the world whose practice focus on fiber art. The project will take the form of an art crawl throughout the Boston area, with an opening on August 14. The project was inspired by the “Guerrilla Girls’ statistics” of women underrepresented in the art world. Originally envisioned as a little exhibit to take place in a single venue for a few weeks, the initiative was transformed into a traveling exhibition using alternative art spaces all across the greater Boston area because of overwhelming response and support. The exhibition will evolve slightly, with a different lineup of artists in each new space.

The Feminist Fiber Art Exhibition will feature artwork created by artists that identify as female. The constantly growing collection include the witty—knitting from the Icelandic artist Ýrúrarí, the historic and esoterically influenced—as well as work with strong female characters embroided by Alaina Varrone (New Haven, Connecticut), “pubism” pieces by Sally Hewitt (England), and “retex” (recycled textile) sculptures from the London-based German artist Jess de Wahls. The project online also features a zine, a blog, and a call for participation.

Michelle Stuart: Topographies: Drawings & Photographic Works 1968–2015
Marc Selwyn Fine Art
9953 South Santa Monica Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90212
July 18–September 5, 2015

Marc Selwyn Fine Art is pleased to announce Topographies: Drawings & Photographic Works 1968–2015, an exhibition by the New York–based artist Michelle Stuart. Stuart (b. Los Angeles, 1933) is a multidisciplinary artist best known for a rich and diverse practice, including site-specific earth works, intimate drawings, multimedia installations, paintings, sculpture, and photographs, all centered on a lifelong interest in the natural world and the cosmos. Her work questions conventional notions of drawing as it merges performative rubbing and frottage gestures with elements of the landscape itself. Stuart brings forth imagery by both adding natural materials and revealing the texture of the earth, combining the fundamentals of both drawing and photography.

Each work is a unique meditation on the nature of memory, digitally printed on sheets of archival paper. The individual panels feature untouched and altered elements, including appropriated vintage images and her own photographs, combined in a filmic manner. These dreamlike recollections of her past not only continue her life-long artistic engagement with specific locations, but also affirm the significance of place as a unique source of memory.

The exhibition highlights include #9 Zen, an iconic scroll that will be accompanied by a selection of works on paper, ranging from early collages such as Traces to more recent indexical works in which earth and seeds are pressed and merged onto her paper supports. The second gallery features a selection of her cinematic photographs, including the walk-about narratives of The Beginning, Islas Encantadas,and Past Shadows, Orkney.

Filed under: CWA Picks, Uncategorized — Tags:

Each month, CAA’s Committee on Women in the Arts selects the best in feminist art and scholarship. The following exhibitions and events should not be missed. Check the archive of CWA Picks at the bottom of the page, as several museum and gallery shows listed in previous months may still be on view or touring.

July 2015

Deirdre Logue and Allyson Mitchell: I’m Not Myself At All
Agnes Etherington Art Centre
Queen’s University, 36 University Avenue, Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 3N6
May 2–August 9, 2015

In I’m Not Myself At All, the artists Deirdre Logue and Allyson Mitchell present an “exuberant revision of sexual identity and domesticity.” The multimedia body of work on exhibit at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre at Queen’s University contains a multitude of forms and mediums, such as soft-sculpture dolls, wallpaper, crochet spider webs, needlepoint drawings, and papiermâché.

Referring to the dolls in the exhibition catalogue, the theorist Heather Love writes, “the female body will not be cleaned up in this queer future—it will arrive trailing its effluvia: bodily fluids, odours, patches of fur, cellulite, granny panties, shag, that sucking sound.”

The artists present an oversized self-representation through amplification of the dolls genitalia, blown-up needlepoint patterned wallpaper, and a gigantic papiermâché pink highlighter against a backdrop of feminist texts, “raising what curator Sarah E. K. Smith identifies as ‘potentiality, belonging and representation,’” via discarded feminist pasts.

Mitchell and Logue run the Feminist Art Gallery (FAG) in Toronto, which Mitchell describes on her website as “a response, a process, a site, a protest, an outcry, an exhibition, a performance, an economy, a conceptual framework, a place and an opportunity.”

Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty
Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
5216 Montrose Boulevard, Houston, TX 77006
April 18–August 2, 2015

Marilyn Minter’s exhibition Pretty/Dirty at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston “vividly manifest[s] our culture’s complex and contradictory emotions around the feminine body and beauty.” The exhibition spans Minter’s career from earlier works such as Coral Ridge Towers, of her “drug-addled mother,” to her 2014 video Smash, with “large female feet in bejeweled high-heeled shoes … dancing, sliding across the floor and smashing glass—all in Minter’s signature silver liquid.”

As a painter, photographer, and video artist, Minter offers a counterdialogue to the fashion industry, whose hypersearch for perfection and beauty are revealed in the artist’s own search for the all too human physical imperfections. “It is way too easy to criticize the fashion industry,” Minter said in her artist talk.

“Minter offers a smart woman’s critical look at issues that are otherwise presented by men for female consumption,” states the exhibition press release. “Minter shows the dual nature and slight imperfections of herself and her fellow woman, finding that true allure comes from the sensuality of imperfections.” But while Minter’s work sometimes calls attention to imperfection, there is a “pleasure rubric” in the exhibition, as Bill Arning calls his discussion with Minter. “I know pleasure exists,” Minter says, “I have it too when I look at these images.”

On view through August 2, 2015, are over twenty-five paintings from 1976 through 2013, three video works, and photographs exploring her development as an artist. The exhibition was organized by the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston and the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. An artist’s talk with Minter, along with Arning, Elissa Auther, and Linda Yablonsky, is available online.

Installation view of Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s exhibition Verses After Dusk at the Serpentine Gallery (June 2–September 13, 2015) in London (artwork © Lynette Yiadom-Boakye; photograph ©

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye: Verses After Dusk
Serpentine Galleries
Kensington Gardens, London W2 3XA
June 2–September 13, 2015

The Serpentine Galleries present Lynette Yiadom-Boakye: Verses After Dusk, the first major solo exhibition by the London-born artist. Yiadom-Boakye, born in 1977 from Ghanaian parents, was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2013. Her paintings explore figures that appear to exist outside a specific time and place. These subjects are all fictitious and drawn from memory or scrapbooks. The artist presents her “suggestions of people,” as she once put it, absent of background, or landscapes, or objects, freeing them from the restrictions of definite time, location, age, and even gender. Her characters may be presented in absence of context, but they are accompanied with enigmatic titles that encourages viewers to construct their own narratives and search a dialogue with the artist’s “poetic secrecy.”

Verses After Dusk is a survey of the artist’ recent work, presenting a comprehensive range of painterly techniques in a series that raises timeless questions of identity as well as representation in art, bringing awareness to the failings of such matters throughout art history. While the artist plays with the influence and references to eighteenth and nineteenth century masters such as Edgar Degas, Paul Cézanne, and Éduoard Manet, she deconstructs them and reconstructs the meaning, challenging the representation of black portraiture in the canon of art history. The display features exclusively black figures, pointing out the absence of references in the representation of black history in the canon of Western art.

Between the works on display, Yes Officer, No Officer (2008) unravels Manet’s famous avant-garde painting Olympia (1863). But in this case, Yiadom-Boakye substitutes the reclining nude female prostitute with a black man and completely deletes the black female servant from the background. Along an impressive collection of expressive paintings, the exhibition includes ten new etchings and introduces the artist’s less-known writings, published in occasion of the exhibition.

Zanele Muholi: Isibonelo / Evidence
Brooklyn Museum
Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Fourth Floor, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11238-6052
May 1–November 1, 2015

Hosted at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, the Brooklyn Museum presents Zanele Muholi: Isibonelo / Evidence. The exhibition is the most comprehensive museum presentation by the artist to date, in which the artist interlocks photography, video, and installation with human-rights activism.

Isibonelo/Evidence features several of the artist’s ongoing projects about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) communities, both in her home country of South Africa and abroad. The display includes eighty-seven works created between 2006 and 2014, including Muholi’s celebrated Faces and Phases portrait series, which uses firsthand accounts to speak to the experience of living in a country that constitutionally protects the rights of LGBTI people but often fails to defend them from targeted violence. In this series, and in an attempt to archive an “invisible” community, Muholi photographed around three hundred South African lesbians against plain or patterned backgrounds. Her compelling and undeniably powerful black-and-white portraits have infinite depth that allows the translation of haunting stories through a single look. The exhibition also includes the new series Weddings and the video Being Scene, which focus on love, intimacy, and daily life within the artist’s own community.

Muholi, born in 1972 in Durban at the height of apartheid, has developed for more than a decade a visual record of black lesbians in her home country, bringing visibility to communities who, although same-sex marriage has been legalized in 2006, continue to undergo hate crimes, stigma, and remain victims of “curative rape.” Through a work that claims her full citizenship as a South African female photographer who identifies as black, and also as a lesbian, the artist express her search of the deserved recognition, respect, and validation that mark and trace our existence.

Cover the issue 8 of Shotgun Seamstress

Osa Atoe: Shotgun Seamstress
Online and Print Zine

“I’m a punk and a feminist,” Osa Atoe declares on Shotgun Seamstress, her blog and fanzine the tagline describes as “old maximum rocknroll columns + new black punk rock thoughts.” In her blog post of March 24, 2015, “I Will Resist With Every Inch and Every Breath: Punk and the Art of Feminism” (which was also the name of a panel Atoe was invited to speak on at the Elizabeth A. Sackler for Feminist Art on March 12, 2015), she explains her roots in feminism and punk as well as the birth of Shotgun Seamstress in 2006. “I had a head full of feminist theory that I had acquired on my own, through my community and from school—including the very useful concept of intersecting identities … and I felt that any art I made should also be political.”

“The intersection of punk and radical politics felt natural to me,” Atoe says. Inspired by Riot Grrrl, Cometbus, and especially the zine Evolution of a Race Riot, Atoe says she set out to celebrate black punk identity within a predominantly white punk scene “that was constantly, but awkwardly attempting to address its own racism.” Atoe’s zine is not about critique, however. As she explains of her first issue, “I didn’t really talk about feminism so much, it just was feminist in its approach” (emphasis by Atoe).

You can see the full panel discussion “I Will Resist With Every Inch and Every Breath: Punk and the Art of Feminism” with Atoe and other panelists online. Printed copies of Shotgun Seamstress are available from Mend My Dress Press.

Agnes Gund: Fame, Fortune, and the Female Artist
Five Points Gallery, 33 Main Street, Torrington, CT
July 10 at 7:00 PM

Five Points Gallery is pleased to announce an upcoming lecture by Agnes Gund, a renowned philanthropist, civic leader, and devoted supporter of women’s issues. Gund, a president emerita of the Museum of Modern Art and chair of its International Council, will speak on “Fame, Fortune, and the Female Artist.” The talk will be free and open to the public on a first-come first-served basis. Five Points Gallery is a nonprofit fine art gallery showcasing professional regional and national visual artists in order to foster an understanding and appreciation of contemporary art in the community.

House, Work, Artwork: Feminism and Art History’s New Domesticities
University of Birmingham, UK
July 3–4, 2015

This conference is motivated by the premise that it is appropriate for feminist art history to revisit and newly configure theoretical, methodological, and political debate around modernist, postmodernist, and contemporary artistic practice in relation to the domestic. The debate is particularly timely in the light of art and art history’s “new” domesticities. These include queer art history’s turn toward the domestic as a site for imagining, making, and inhabiting space within or without the heteronormative, and recent art-historical and curatorial projects focusing on modern and contemporary art practice and the home—but in which the question of feminism is downplayed in favor of more generalized concepts of subversion, labor, and belonging. The keynote speakers are: Mignon Nixon from the Courtauld Institute of Art in London and Julia Bryan-Wilson of the University of California, Berkeley. For further information, contact Francesca Berry, Department of Art History, Film, and Visual Studies, University of Birmingham; and Jo Applin, Department of History of Art, University of York.

Filed under: CWA Picks, Uncategorized — Tags:

Each month, CAA’s Committee on Women in the Arts selects the best in feminist art and scholarship. The following exhibitions and events should not be missed. Check the archive of CWA Picks at the bottom of the page, as several museum and gallery shows listed in previous months may still be on view or touring.

June 2015

Poster image for Bluestocking Film Series 2015

Bluestocking Film Series 2015
SPACE Gallery
538 Congress Street, Portland, ME 04101
July 17–18, 2015

Founded in 2011 by the director and independent filmmaker Kate Kaminski, the Bluestocking Film Series promotes filmmakers who “place female protagonists front and center.” As explained in their mission statement, they “encourage and promote production of narratives driven by strong, complex female protagonists, characters who are as fully-developed, heroic, complex and flawed as their male counterparts,” all this with a preference for “well-structured, highly visual, cutting edge, provocative films, especially ones that explore the plurality and variety of women’s relationships.”

The series focuses on narrative films more than documentaries, and each accepted film must also pass the Bechdel Test. This year an estimated fourteen to sixteen films will be screening over two nights and one afternoon at the SPACE Gallery in Portland, Maine. A special afternoon program, free for low-income girls, was added after Bluestocking received a number of strong films addressing issues of adolescence and coming of age, Kaminiski said. The Irish filmmaker Maureen O’Connell will also join the festival in Maine for the US premiere of her film, Girls.

The Bluestocking Film Series issued a call to filmmakers this year in their Blue Collar Heroine Challenge, seeking films that spotlight the lives of working-class women. “Truly diverse representations of women wage earners who are competent, quick-witted, and enterprising are practically taboo,” Kaminski explained. The challenge was delivered to help fill this void while portraying women who work in skilled manual-labor jobs, including “pink collar” jobs, and in many ways “an ordinary heroine.” Unfortunately, Kaminiski said, they received no films that met the criteria 100 percent. “The fact is, these films may not yet exist,” she said, “and this is the reason why we do.”

Online Satirical Women’s Magazine

“The mission of Reductress is to take on the outdated perspectives and condescending tone of popular women’s media, through the eyes of the funniest women in comedy today,” begins the about page on the Reductress website. “Also, we want people to think we’re pretty.” Begun in 2013 by the comedians Beth Newell and Sarah Pappalardo, the online “news” magazine takes aim at all subjects, from news to entertainment, love, sex, and a category called “womanspiration.”

Headlines subtly and not-so-subtly jab at a breadth of issues. Perform a quick search for art, museum, or films and their titles and one will find the art and film industry is not immune to their satire. Titles include: “New Movie Has Women In It,” “Secret Colony of Female Directors Found in a Remote Cave,” “Slave To The Night: Dafna Remembers Art Basel,” “MPAA Gives Film NC-17 Rating for Actress’s Graphic Enjoyment of Dessert,” and (but not limited to) “Date Night Ideas That Will Lead to an Explosive Argument,” which includes the helpful paragraph titled “A Scream-Fight at a Museum.”

Only a short two years into online publication, the authors are adjusting to the increasing talk of feminism in mainstream media. In an interview with the Daily Beast from May 3, 2015, Pappalardo is quoted, “all of a sudden the magazines that we were parodying are talking about feminism and taking it seriously.” But, she says, these are attempts “to be relevant in feminism and co-opt the movement, while still propagating the same messages that make us feel inadequate.”

Milcah Bassel: Father Tongue
Kniznick Gallery
Brandeis University, Women’s Studies Research Center, Epstein Building, 515 South Street, Waltham, MA 02453
April 13–July 16, 2015

The Kniznick Gallery in the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University features the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute artist-in-residence Milcah Bassel and her work, Father Tongue. The large-scale wall drawings produced at the gallery are based on five letters of the Hebrew alphabet, exploring the “patriarchal roots of this ancient square alphabet through a personal, feminist, and abstract lens.” Bassel, who was raised in Israel, describes her multidisciplinary work as “an experiential investigation of body-space relations incorporating installation, hand-made objects, drawing, photography, video and performance.”

In Father Tongue, Basel explains in an interview with the Brandeis University student newspaper, the Justice, she chose to revisit five specific letters because they are all constructed of right angles and often used frequently as building blocks in Hebrew. As a child, Basel said, her earliest experiences with the alphabet were watching her father, a Jewish scribe, copy letters. This dominantly visual experience, coupled with her career as an artist and transition from an Orthodox family into a secular background, has allowed her, as Basel expressed, to “reclaim the alphabet for myself.”

Basel’s installation treats the space as if the audience is reading Hebrew, from right to left, compiling the five letters in a repetitive, but recognizable pattern. For audiences that read Hebrew this arrangement maintains the relationship to the language, while for others it remains purely within the visual realm.

A video of the installation is available on the WSRC Facebook page.

Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft, and Design, Midcentury and Today
Museum of Art and Design
2 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019
April 28–September 27, 2015

The Museum of Art and Design (MAD) presents Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft, and Design, Midcentury and Today, an exhibition that position women at the center of the midcentury narrative unveiling their meaningful contributions to modernism in postwar visual culture. As the exhibition curator Jennifer Scanlan states, “Through Pathmakers, MAD aims to expand the historical view of the postwar period, to showcase important artists and designers, and to introduce names that have been overlooked.”

In the 1950s and 1960s women had a significant impact in the use of alternative materials such as textiles, ceramics, and metals, making of craft and design media an important professional pathway. Pioneering women achieved success and international recognition, establishing a model of professional identity for future generations of women.

Pathmakers features more than one hundred works from a group that had a significant impact as innovative designers, artists, and educators, and that came to maturity along with the Museum of Arts and Design itself, which was founded in 1956 as the center of the emerging American modern craft movement. The exhibition includes contributions of European émigrés, such as Anni Albers and Maija Grotell, and highlights Ruth Asawa’s singular installation of hanging sculptures, Marianne Strengell’s Forecast Rug (a commissioned piece by the Aluminum Company of America that aimed to bring this industrial material into the home market), a wide selection of Eva Zeisel’s designs, Margaret Tafoya’s “bear paw vessels” (which merge traditional Pueblo ceramic techniques with contemporary form), and Gabriel A. Maher’s DE___SIGN, in which the artist looks at stereotypically male and female posture and clothing.

Cover of the exhibition catalogue for Sonia Delaunay

Sonia Delaunay
Tate Modern
Bankside, London SE1 9TG United Kingdom
April 15–August 9, 2015

Tate Modern presents the first retrospective of the pioneer of abstraction Sonia Delaunay in the United Kingdom. The exhibition explores the breath of Delaunay’s seventy-year career, providing a unique opportunity to discover one the most versatile and inspiring artist of her time.

Through painting, sketches, graphic, textile, fashion, and even furniture designs, dynamic forms and vibrant colors capture the spirit of modernity, while celebrating urban life, technology, and travel. Perhaps the most modern aspect of her creative process lies in the artist’s willingness to go beyond the traditional confines of fine art. Delaunay embraced fashion, textile, costume and set design, interior decoration, architecture, and advertising, developed and launched her own fashion house, and established her name as a brand.

The artist, born in Odessa as Sara Stern in 1885, developed a unique creative partnership along with her husband, the artist Robert Delaunay, since 1910, and together they approached abstraction distinctively through “simultaneism.” After Robert’s early death in 1941, Sonia continue exploring a variety of media and producing experimental and innovative art until the late 1970s.

The exhibition’s installation allows viewers to navigate her creative path in chronological order throughout twelve sections: Early Years, in which is made evident the influence of Paul Gauguin and the German Expressionists in her early paintings; Towards Abstraction, which introduces the collaborations with Robert Delaunay; Modern Life; Portugal and Spain, which focuses on her work in advertising and design while the couple refuged in these countries during the outbreak of WWI; and Flamenco and Ballet, which displays the opening of Casa Sonia and her first commissions in clothing and custom designs that blossomed in the early 1920s, when the Delaunays returned to Paris. This is made further evident in the section Fashion and Textile through an overwhelming collection of sketches, textiles, and designs, along with a series of fashion shoots displayed as photographs and videos.Through the remaining sections—Poetry and Theatre, Rhythm and Abstraction, Paris, Abstraction and Everyday Life, Gouaches, and Reinventions—viewers can follow Delaunay’s inspirational path, a creative journey that never ceased until her death in Paris in 1979. She was 94.

Yvonne Rainer: The Concept of Dust, or How do you look when there’s nothing left to move?
Museum of Modern Art
Werner and Elaine Dannheisser Lobby Gallery, Fourth Floor, 11 West 53rd Street, New York, NY 10019
June 9–14, 2015

The Museum of Modern Art presents the East Coast premiere of Yvonne Rainer’s The Concept of Dust, or How do you look when there’s nothing left to move? (Moving On), an ongoing work-in-progress that intertwines formal dance with an intimate approach of aging and mortality, as well as humor, through language, music, and movement, which when combined creates a somewhat melancholy ambiance. The performers of this piece have been given the freedom to initiate and/or abort the movement phrases as they wish, making spontaneous decisions throughout the forty-five-minute duration of the piece. Rainer, a founding member of New York’s pioneering Judson Dance Theater, has developed a form known as “performance demonstrations” or “composites,” which combine fragments of choreography with spoken monologues, projections, films, and sounds.

Steffani Jemison: Promise Machine
Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd Street, New York, NY 10019
June 25–27, 2015
1:00 PM and 4:00 PM

The Museum of Modern Art presents Promise Machine, a multipart commission of the Brooklyn-based artist Steffani Jemison, in conjunction with the exhibition One Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series and Other Visions of the Great Movement North. Jemison (American, b. 1981) works across media and explores ideas of improvisation, repetition, and the fugitive in black history and vernacular culture inspired by the Utopia Neighborhood Club, a Harlem-based women’s social-service organization that directly supported Jacob Lawrence.

Promise Machine comprises a reading group and performance inspired by the notion of utopia that Jemison will premier as a new musical performance with original libretto by the artist and a score composed collaboratively with Courtney Bryan.

Guerrilla Girls: #ProvokeProtestPrevail’s
Bruce High Quality Foundation University, 431 East 6th Street, New York, NY 10009
June 13, 2015
6:00 PM

FUG is a new project space of New York’s freest art school, the Bruce High Quality Foundation University (BHQFU). Through merging exhibitions, public programs, classes, and workshops, the project will host BHQFU’s visiting artist residency program, which supports artists and collaborative projects from around the globe through three- to six-week residencies.

As the culmination of #ProvokeProtestPrevail’s, the Guerrilla Girls BroadBand exhibition (May 1–June 14, 20154), and as part of its community outreach, BHQFU invites participation in a group action and live “guerrilla” performance that pays an homage to the Russian feminist punk protest group Pussy Riot. Supporting the reproductive rights through the power of music, participants will collaborate on a performance of a Pussy Riot song and edit it into a music video to be shared. For this, instruments, performers, and voices welcome. A closing party will follow.

Filed under: CWA Picks, Uncategorized — Tags:

Each month, CAA’s Committee on Women in the Arts selects the best in feminist art and scholarship. The following exhibitions and events should not be missed. Check the archive of CWA Picks at the bottom of the page, as several museum and gallery shows listed in previous months may still be on view or touring.

May 2015

Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm
Drawing Center
35 Wooster Street, New York, NY 10013
April 10–June 28, 2015

The Drawing Center presents Natalie Frank, The Brothers Grimm, in which Frank explores “eccentric narratives alive with sexuality and violence; stories in which the female characters in particular undergo vast emotional, physical, and intellectual transformations.” Presented in twenty-nine drawings made in gouache and pastel, Frank dissects the fairytales of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm by focusing attention on the roles of women, recasting the complex feminist protagonists.

Frank, who began drawing from life at thirteen years old, began to quickly explore her own narrative in her drawing, exploring perversity, fetish, playacting, women, and the body, among other themes. Through the Grimm drawings, Frank said she was captivated by the politics of sexuality and magic. “They inspire a refreshing and new way for me to approach making a picture,” she commented in an interview with Bomb Magazine. “I want my paintings to take a lesson from my drawings: not to be illustrative, but to be more formally transgressive.” Each subject is cast in a surreal landscape, “engaging the intersection between body and mind, reality and fiction, the series can be seen as a contemporary feminist reimagining of a symbolist legacy.”

Installation view of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Detroit at the Detroit Institute of Arts

Frida Kahlo: Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Detroit
Detroit Institute of Arts
5200 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48202
March 15–July 12, 2015

Presenting work by artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, the Detroit Institute of Arts celebrates the connections between the city and two iconic Mexican painters, as well as the museum’s new ownership of the work after a tumultuous refinancing by the City of Detroit. Kahlo, in Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Detroit, takes on a much smaller but no less intense presence in the exhibition. On view is Henry Ford Hospital, painted after her miscarriage in July 1932, in which she depicts herself laying in a pool of blood on a floating bed, “disturbing symbols float above like surrealist balloons connected to umbilical cords,” including a fetus, two spinal columns, a snail, machinery, and a woman’s torso.

The year in Detroit was a turning point in the career of Kahlo as she matured into her artistic identity, creating a fierce personal style. The twenty-three pieces on view by Kahlo expose her work at the forefront of self-expression, focusing on her own life and her experiences—expressions that had never been painted before by any artists. “Frida began work on a series of masterpieces which had no precedent in the history of art—paintings which exalted the feminine qualities of endurance of truth, reality, cruelty, and suffering,” Rivera wrote later. “Never before had a woman put such agonized poetry on canvas as Frida did at this time in Detroit.”

Also among the works by Kahlo on view is Self-Portrait on the Borderline between Mexico and the United States, in which the artist paints herself with a Mexican flag in one hand and a cigarette in the other at the divide between and industrialized scene from Detroit and symbols of her homeland.

Fouzia Najar: Semiotics of Islam: A Primer for Kuffar
Online Video
Run time: 7:07

Inspired by Martha Rosler’s film Semiotics of the Kitchen (1975), Fouzia Najar presents Semiotics of Islam, using letters of the alphabet to present objects and terms from Muslim culture. The short, experimental film begins by projecting onto the body of the poet and actor, Adeeba Rana, news broadcasts highlighting the representation of Muslim culture through mainstream media. The film then proceeds from the letter A to demonstrate articles of clothing worn by Muslim women. As she reaches the letter H for “Hijab” Najar again projects political pundints onto Rana’s body as they discuss jihad in raised, frantic voices. In relationship to Rosler’s film, “the oppressive force on the woman in my piece is the media,” Najar explains in an interview with Apogee Journal.

In contrast to the news media’s frenetic use of the word jihad, when Najar reaches J for jihad, which she defines in a parenthetical subtitle as struggle, she films Rana quite calmly struggling to open a jar of olives.

“One of the biggest misconceptions with second-wave feminists, but also the mainstream media and the world think that Muslim women need to be saved. The problem is that they’re not giving Muslim women the agency to do it themselves,” Najar says in the interview. While her film is aimed at all audiences, she does leave references only for the initiated. For example, at the end of the film, as she thanks her mother, the text flashes three times in homage to the Prophet. Najar is ultimately not concerned with communicating everything to all audiences but allowing the audience to hear the divide between the mainstream understanding and hers when it comes to the semiotics of language.

Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street, New York, NY 10019
March 8–June 7, 2015

The Museum of Modern Art presents an immersive sonic and visual landscape of the multifaceted work of Björk. This retrospective exhibition of the Icelandic artist chronicles more than twenty years of a creative journey of sound, film, visuals, instruments, objects, and costumes that reflect her creative uniqueness and her collaborative style.

As an introduction, four instruments created to be used by Björk in Biophilia (2011) are scattered in the museum’s lobby. A gameleste, a pipe organ, a gravity harp, and a Tesla coil play songs at different points throughout the day. Perhaps the most impressive—installed in front of the Museum Sculpture Garden’s glass windows that enhances its appreciation—is a Gravity Harp that use the natural motion of four pendulums with eleven-string cylindrical harps on the ends.

On the Marron Atrium located in the museum’s second floor, two spaces have been constructed to house the artist’s videos. The first one is dedicated to Black Lake, a new sound and video installation, commissioned by MoMA, for a song from her new album Vulnicura (2015). After Black Lake, there is a black box, perhaps where the “soul” of the exhibition lies. Here viewers can feel immersed where the artist exposes her core in its most extreme and complete form: a loop screening of a retrospective in music videos, from Debut (1993) to Biophilia.

For the Songlines section, located in the third floor of the exhibition, a first come, first served booking is requested. Here each character unfolds through sound, objects, images, and fictional biographical narratives that unveil personal and poetic narratives, that draw on recurrent themes throughout Björk oeuvre, such as a feminist approach to the rural and urban landscape, nature, and technology. Bridging the experimental and the popular, the organic and the technological, the personal and the universal, Björk reminds us that these are all connected and essential in the journey of being an artist, the journey of being human.

As the project curator Klaus Biesenbach mentioned: “The ‘90s, my (and Björk’s) generation was all about relational aesthetics, it’s all about collaboration.” Tracing Björk’s seemingly instinctive and experimental journey for two decades, it become evident the sensitivity of a unique vision, a vision that reflects the confidence and trust exposed along her creative process.

Installation view of Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian: Infinite Possibility. Mirror Works and Drawings 1974–2014 at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York (photograph by David Heald and © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation)

Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian: Infinite Possibility
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
1071 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10128
March 13–June 3, 2015

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum presents Infinite Possibility. Mirror Works and Drawings 1974–2014, the first museum solo exhibition by the Iranian artist Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian in the United States. The exhibition examines the artist’s creative practice during four decades, including many projects from Monir’s personal collection, and works that have not been displayed publicly since the 1970s.

Born in Qazvin, Iran, in 1924, Farmanfarmaian has spent her formative years (1945–57) and her exile during the Islamic Revolution (1979) in New York. In 2004, she returned to Iran, where she reestablished her studio and resumed working with some of the same craftsmen she had collaborated with there in the 1970s. Farmanfarmaian has been making art for seventy years and is still very much a practitioner. Her work combine the heritage of traditional Iranian craft, particularly that of architectural Islamic decoration, with the Western philosophies of Minimalism and abstraction that informed her contemporaries, artists friends like Frank Stella and Robert Morris.

Infinite Possibility includes works on paper, plaster and mirror reliefs, and large-scale mirror sculptures, installations that the artist refers to as “geometric families.” Her practice is characterized by a merging of visual and spatial experience along with the aesthetics of Islamic architecture and decoration. The artist stated that her work is largely based on geometry, a geometry that allows “infinite possibilities.” The exhibition also reflects Farmanfarmaian’s geometric vision in a domestic context, as the exhibition closes with an installation of double doors of frosted glass that she originally fashioned for her New York apartment in the 1980s.

As with many artists of her time, her life and creative process has been influenced by Iran’s political circumstances. In fact, her works on paper were originally born while the artist was deprived of her Tehran studio for a decade after leaving once again for New York when the revolution broke out. Farmanfarmaian, the most celebrated contemporary artist working in mirror mosaic, was and remains a pioneer abstract artist both as an Iranian and as a woman.

Helena Almeida: Inhabited Drawings
Richard Saltoun Gallery
111 Great Titchfield Street, London W1W 6RY United Kingdom
March 27–May 22, 2015

Richard Saltoun Gallery presents Inhabited Drawings, the first London solo exhibition dedicated to the acclaimed and influential Portuguese artist, Helena Almeida. Born in Lisbon in 1934, Almeida was one of the leading women artists working in Europe during the 1970s and 1980s. This exhibition presents a selection of works from her most iconic series from the period.

Inspired by the neo-concrete movement gathering momentum in Brazil under the charismatic leadership of Hélio Oiticica and Lygia Clark, and following their desire to liberate color into three-dimensional space, Almeida began experimenting with ways of breaking with the boundaries of a canvas. The artist, who represented Portugal at the Venice Biennale in 1982 and 2005, has continuously questioned traditional media, exploring ways in which to interact with the pictorial bidimensionality by placing her body as the subject of her work. By “inhabiting” them, as the title of this exhibition suggests, Almeida performs sensitively choreographed movements in dialogue with simple, everyday objects. Using photographs—taken by her husband and collaborator, the architect Artur Rosa—as backdrops for pieces, the artist reflects on the perception and perennial nature of performance.

Almeida is not a photographer, and yet the majority of her work takes exhibiting form in black-and-white photography. She does not refer of her oeuvre as self-portraits, but virtually all of her artworks depict the artist over her forty-year career. She uses a particular shade of blue, a blue that is very similar to that of Yves Klein. For Study for Inner Improvement (1977), Almeida created a sequence of photographs in which she appears as if eating blue paint. Since the artist had in the past protested at Klein’s use of women as objects in his artworks, chewing up of Klein’s “dominated” blue, appears as a liberating act for women and artists everywhere. Furthermore, having grown up in Portugal under the right-wing regime of Antonio Salazar, Almeida has created artworks that were not just about physical liberation, but psychological emancipation as well.

Filed under: CWA Picks, Uncategorized — Tags:

Each month, CAA’s Committee on Women in the Arts selects the best in feminist art and scholarship. The following exhibitions and events should not be missed. Check the archive of CWA Picks at the bottom of the page, as several museum and gallery shows listed in previous months may still be on view or touring.

April 2015

Nina Bunjavec: Out of the Fatherland
Art Gallery of Ontario
317 Dundas Street West, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5T 1G4
December 13, 2014–summer 2015

The Canadian graphic novelist Nina Bunjevac, in her work Fatherland, explores the influence of extremism and ideologies on her own family and personal history. Now on view at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Out of the Fatherland is a selection of drawings from Bunjevac’s tale of the patriarch of her family—a member of the radical nationalist group Freedom for Serbian Fatherland—as told through the memories of her mother, sister, and grandmother, among other relatives. In the painstakingly detailed panels Bunjevac reflects on her mother’s flight from her husband back to Yugoslavia with her two daughters in 1975, the history and political climate of Yugoslavia, and the death of her father while assembling a bomb in a Toronto garage two years later. Bunjevac was three at the time of her father’s death.

The graphic novel, as Bunjevac explains, is two parts in order to reflect the “duality presented in the book: maternal – paternal, nationalist – communist, old country – new country.” At times drawing directly from childhood photographs, the artist said it resembled detective work, where she would scan images, and through enlarging them discover hidden history. During an NPR interview Bunjevac revealed how an overexposed photograph of her grandmother, who was in an abusive relationship, once darkened, exposed a black eye, and subsequently the photographers desire to mask it. Bunjevac takes these frozen records of violence and forced smiles, and with her pen reveals sociopolitical issues at play on both a personal and national stage while maintaining her role as the neutral narrator. Fatherland follows Bunjevac’s debut graphic novel, Heartless (2012), which features Zorka, a depressed, alcoholic, chain-smoking antiheroine.

Lori Vrba: The Moth Wing Diaries
Daylight Project Space
121 West Margaret Lane, Hillsborough, NC 27278
March 27–May 22, 2015

The photographer Lori Vrba describes her work as “reeking Southern woman.” In her new exhibition at Daylight Project Space, and in her forthcoming book The Moth Wing Diaries (published by Daylight Books), Vrba edited photographs from four projects—Drunken Poet’s Dream, Piano Farm, Safekeeping, and My Grace Is Sufficient—into a monograph that addresses “themes of memory, providence, revival and dreams … [exploring a] sense of conflict and ultimate peace with the Southern terrain.”

Vrba’s work oscillates between dreamlike scenes and reflections of innocence and confrontational moments. In the photograph Orchid from My Grace is Sufficient, a woman stands naked, the frame dipping only so far as to expose a partial breast. She clenches an orchid in her hand. The model’s face and identity is obscured by what appears to be a sheer silken fabric, keeping the viewer from knowing her.

Vrba’s work has been compared to that of Sally Mann, a comparison, Vrba says, that almost made her cry. She admires and is influenced by Mann, but while both often photograph their children, the difference between the two artists, Vrba explains, is that her own work is entirely autobiographical. The landscapes she choses, either the Southern rolling hills or the body landscapes of her human models, is a means to explore internal tensions via her visual sensitivities and ultimately her femininity, intimacy, and vulnerability. Working in a traditional darkroom, Vrba has a love of printmaking that is reflected in the rich warmth and sultriness of her toned images. Unapologetic about her style, Vrba writes, “my work is inherently feminine … and has a traditionally beautiful aesthetic without apology.”

A larger selection of photographs from The Moth Wing Diaries will be on view at the Catherine Courturier Gallery in Houston, Texas, in June.

Cat Del Buono: Voices
Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami
Joan Lehman Building, 770 NE 125th Street, North Miami, FL 33161
April 14–19, 2015 (panel discussion on April 18 at 4:00 PM

The Miami artist Cat Del Buono is bringing her video installation Voices to the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami for a short exhibition and panel discussion. Voices, created with a New Works Grant from Baang & Burne Contemporary, is a multichannel video installation focusing on domestic violence. Each small video monitor exposes only the lips of an anonymous domestic violence survivor as she recounts her personal experience of abuse for the unknown audience. Upon entry into the installation each voice is heard simultaneously, creating a “symphony of unrecognizable words.” Not until the viewer stands intimately close to a single monitor does the story of that woman become clear.

Filmed in Miami, New York, Connecticut, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and Chicago, Voices brings stories from women of all ages and ethnicities to the viewer. “As a society, we must not allow the epidemic of domestic violence and those who are affected by it to remain an invisible and inaudible crowd of statistics,” Del Buono said in an exhibition statement.

Del Buono has a history of work aimed at raising awareness on women’s issues, as well as body image. In her work Beauty Box, during Art Basel Miami Beach in 2014, Del Buono and the Refemme team invited women and men into their “medical” tent to receive individualize beauty consultations. Instead of prescribing ways to improve, participants were complimented as part of the project’s “social interruption.”

Voices will cap its short stay at MoCA North Miami with a panel discussion moderated by Bonnie Berman of WLRNand featuring a victim’s advocate from the Lodge Miami, an abuse survivor, and Adrienne Von Lates from MoCA.

Anicka Yi: You Can Call Me F
The Kitchen
512 West 19th Street, New York, NY 10011
March 5–April 11, 2015

The Kitchen’s gallery is transformed into a forensic laboratory in which Anicka Yi’s You Can Call Me F proposes a parallel between society’s increasing paranoia—private and public—regarding hygiene and contagion with the longstanding patriarchal fear of feminism and strength of female networks.

During 2014–15, Yi (b. Seoul, 1971) has been developing new projects as a visiting artist at MIT Center for Art, Science, and Technology (CAST). For You Can Call Me F, the New York–based artist gathered biological information from one hundred women in order to cultivate the idea of the female figure as a viral pathogen that suffers external attempts to be both contained and neutralized.

Following her trilogy Divorce, Denial,and Death, in which Yi privileged scent, memory, and other aspects of the “avisual” over physical components, You Can Call Me F is based in the visual language of quarantine tents, a context that allows a translucent view, at the same time that intends to protect the fragile ecosystems within. Yi’s feminist approach focuses in the impact of the politics and subjectivities of smell on our empathic understanding of each other.

Curated by Lumi Tan, the project was possible by collaborative efforts from a hundred contributing women—some listed at the exhibition, some anonymous donors—as well as scientist and researchers, including: Tal Danino, MIT postdoc in synthetic biology; the biologist Patrick Hickey; and the provision of scent analysis and formulation by Air Variable, a scent fabrication company founded in 2014 by Sean Raspet that focuses exclusively on olfactory and chemistry-related art and design projects.

Camille Henrot: The Pale Fox
Westfälischer Kunstverein
Rothenburg 30, 48143 Münster, Germany
February 21–May 10, 2015

Westfälischer Kunstverein presents The Pale Fox, the first large-scale solo exhibition in Germany by the New York–based French artist Camille Henrot (b. 1978). This traveling exhibition (Münster, London, Copenhagen, and Paris) has been coproduced by four European institutions and was ranked by the Guardian as among the ten best art shows of the year.

The Pale Fox is borrowed character from an anthropological study, published by Griaule and Dieterlen in 1965, that reflects on the incorporation of several different cultures, as well as astronomical, mathematical, and philosophical systems of thought and beliefs in the West African Dogon tribe’s mythology. In this system, the character of the Pale Fox represents disorder and chaos not only as a transgression but also as a necessary condition for creativity. Based in a cycle from which accumulation and excess become productive again, and her interest in disorder as a fertile foundational principle for creative practice and formulation of knowledge, Henrot understands the fox as a potential model for our primitive selves, as well as a symptom of our digital age in which humans driven by curiosity and impatience.

Populating a highly constructed and meditative environment with images and objects, Henrot conceived this installation as a sort of a domestic atmosphere in which she orders and arranges more than four hundred photographs, bronze sculptures, books, watercolors, and drawings that were bought on eBay, borrowed from museums, or found or produced by Henrot. In the artist’s words, there is “an excess of principles” in The Pale Fox, a pathological and almost erotic “cataloguing psychosis” that allows the potential for disorder to return. Through this compulsive superimposition, the artist intends to make sense of our shared desire to understand the world intimately through the objects that surround us. A video produced by a seemingly hidden camera at the exhibition opening evidences audience engagement toward personal reconstructions of the multilayered environment of narratives.

Channa Horwitz: Counting in Eight, Moving by Color
KW Institute for Contemporary Art
Auguststrasse 69, 10117 Berlin, Germany
March 15–May 25, 2015

The KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin presents Counting in Eight, Moving by Color, the first comprehensive solo exhibition of Channa Horwitz (1932–2013). Many of the works on view, including a selection of construction drawings and documentary materials have never been shown before. The exhibition features representative works from all phases of Horwitz’s career, providing an introduction to her oeuvre and insight into key series of her creative process, such as the Language Series, Sonakinatography, Rhythms,and Structures. Some of her central works were reconstructed based on the plans that the artist made herself for her own future.

Departing from a system of notation based on the number eight, Horwitz developed a visual language in the late 1960s that achieved freedom based in the restriction to a few simple rules. Searching for a simple yet universal language, she created variations of complex systems resembling musical scores that allow movements to be visualized by means of color schemes and graphic scales. Since then, each of her works has been based on the numbers one through eight, while each number is assigned an specific color code, in this way designing structures that translate spatial-temporal relations into drawings, paintings, and multimedia sculptures.

The comprehensive exhibition at KW retraces the development that led Horwitz from figurative painting to conceptual abstraction, linking her creative practice to her contemporary minimal and conceptual artists. The display includes a large number of the compositions from “Sonakinatography” (her new term combining the Greek words for “sound,” “movement,” and “writing/recording”), which are perhaps the artist’s most well-known works to date. Despite her creative commitment, Horwitz lived and worked in complete seclusion from the midsixties until the 2000s, and her work was rarely exhibited. She seemed to have just begun her artistic career when she passed away at the age of 81. Sadly Horwitz did not live to see the overwhelming international recognition that her oeuvre gained at the last Venice Biennale.

Filed under: CWA Picks, Uncategorized — Tags:

Each month, CAA’s Committee on Women in the Arts selects the best in feminist art and scholarship. The following exhibitions and events should not be missed. Check the archive of CWA Picks at the bottom of the page, as several museum and gallery shows listed in previous months may still be on view or touring.

March 2015

Poetry and Exile
British Museum
Gallery 34, Great Russell Street, London
WC1B 3DG United Kingdom
October 1, 2014–March 1, 2015

Housed within the Islamic World Galleries, Poetry and Exile displays a series of works by artists of the Middle East and North Africa recently acquired by the British Museum. This small but powerful exhibition explores the effects of exile through the eyes of four women artists:Ipek Duben, Mireille Kassar, Mona Saudi, and Canan Tolon.

Tolon’s series ofink and graphite drawings, titled Futur Imparfait, is a memoir fromher exile from Istanbul to France, where she spent a decade in hospital as a result of contracting polio as a child. In the series Tolon portrays an exile not only from home, but also from her own body. Duben’s book Refugee belies the helplessness and terror suffered by people forced to flee their homeland with images on delicate gauze pages and using childlike embroidery that depicts the crossing of borders. The Istanbul-born Duben has been making books and installations that focus on identity, domestic violence, and the worldwide forced migration of the twentieth century.

The Jordanian artist Saudi combines the evocative verses of the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish with drawings, while the Lebanese-born Kassar developed a series of drawings inspired by the Persian poem The Conference of the Birds. Here, Kassar conjures a story of exile from her own family history. Originally from Mosul and Mardin—present day Iraq and Turkey—her ancestors fled the Ottoman massacres of minorities during the late-nineteenth and early twentieth century.

Sophie Calle: For the Last and First Time
Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal
185, rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest, Montréal, Québec H2X 3X5 Canada
February 5–May 10, 2015

The Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal presents For the Last and First Time,a two-part exhibition by Sophie Calle (b. Paris, 1953), one of the most important conceptualists artists of her generation. The exhibition comprises two successive projects developed in Istanbul, The Last Image (2010) and Voir la mer (2011). Calle’s poetic investigation of beauty, blindness, and the sea reflects on visual and emotional relationships with the concept of beautythrough an insightful look at both the loss of one’s eyesight, through the particular mental images of blind people, and at the discovery of beauty and the sublime for the first time.

The Last Image isan installation of a series of photographs, tinged with melancholy and accompanied by texts and the soothing sound of waves. For this project, the artist spoke to blind people who had lost their sight suddenly, asking them to recall and describe the last thing they saw. Later on, while in Istanbul, Calle met many people that, in a city surrounded by water, had never seen the sea. For Voir la mer, a series of captivating first encounters with the sea, she filmed fifteen people from different ages looking at the sea for the first time in their lives.

Aware of the impossibility of re-creating the first glance, these series of digital films were in this case created with the assistant of a filmmaker. Calle found most meaningful to remain herself at the back of the viewers, waiting to observe their glances when they turn around after seeing the sea for the first time in their lives. As the artist recalls: “I went with each person individually, such as this man in his thirties. Before we arrived I made him cover his eyes. Once we were safely by the sea, I instructed him to take away his hands and look at it. Then, when he was ready—for some it was five minutes and for others fifteen—he had to turn to me and let me look at those eyes that had just seen the sea.”

Through presenting together The Last Image and Voir la mer, the exhibition opens a moving dialogue among memory, sight, beauty, and the sea. As often in the development of Calle’s projects, The Last Image and Voir la mer derive from an earlier series, The Blind, developed in 1986, in which the artist asked blind people to describe the notion of beauty for them. One of them had answered: “The most beautiful thing I have ever seen is the sea, the endless sea.”

Calle has developed a “polyphonic” art dealing with photography, writing, video, and performance. Throughout four decades of creative practice, she has produced extraordinary, audacious works that draw on her own history as well as that of others. Through a poetic, sincere, and intimate approach, Calle invites us to break through the boundaries between private and public life, creating and recording moments of startling truth, tinged with notions of loss, absence, and desire.

Doris Salcedo
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
220 East Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
February 21–May 24, 2015

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, presents the first retrospective of the thirty-year career of the renowned Colombian artist Doris Salcedo, whose work, although deeply rooted in her country’s social and political landscape, investigates human conflict manifested in different parts of the world. Salcedo (b. 1958), who lives and works in Bogotá, transforms ordinary and domestic objects (such as chairs, tables) into alternative memorials to the painful absence that embodied a traumatic loss of human life. In this process, the artist grounds her art in rigorous fieldwork, which involves extensive interviews with people who have experienced loss and trauma in their everyday lives due to political violence. She has been increasingly noted for her large-scale installations and architectural interventions. Between them, her work Shibboleth, a 167-meter-long crack in the turbine floor, developed as a commission for the Tate Modern Unilever Projects in 2007, raised questions of borders, racial hatred, and exclusion. Through a laborious and seemingly healing art-making process, Salcedo creates sculptures and installation that explore the indescribable wounds of violence as a universal phenomenon through a subtle, poetic, yet devastatingly powerful visual language.

Salcedo’s retrospective at the museum begins with a selection of her earliest works, many of which are exhibited together en masse for the first time since 1998: sculptures made with concrete-filled doors, tables, armoires, chairs. Other major installations include La Casa Viuda (1993–95), Unland (1995–98), Atrabiliarios (1992–2004), A Flor de Piel (2014), and Disremembered (2014). It also presents the American debut of Salcedo’s major work Plegaria Muda (2008–10), an expansive installation of tables, inverted one atop another, while individual blades of grass grow through the holes in their surfaces. Responding once again to acts of violence, its contemplative stillness evokes associations of a collective burial site. This piece was inspired by a three-year-long research of gang violence at the ghettoes of southeastern Los Angeles, as well as by the 2008 discovery that members of the Colombian Army had been killing innocent civilians and dressing their corpses in guerrilla uniforms to claim government bounties. As Salcedo points out, speaking about modern, war-torn societies, “we have lost our ability to mourn…. I want my work to play the role of funeral oration, honoring this life.”

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, is producing a short film documenting Salcedo’s site-specific and ephemeral installations and a 250-page publication featuring an overview of the artist’s career by leading scholars and curators. The exhibition travels to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, where it will be seen June 26–October 14, 2015.

Body Talk: Feminism, Sexuality, and the Body in the Work of Six African Women Artists
WIELS, Contemporary Art Centre
Avenue Van Volxemlaan 354, 1190 Brussels, Belgium
February 14–May 3, 2015

WIELS Contemporary Art Center in Brussels presents Body Talks, an exhibition along a series of conversations and performances that address issues feminism, sexuality, and the body in the work of six African women artists. Curated by Koyo Kouoh and assisted by Eva Barois De Caevel from the RAW Material Company in Dakar, the exhibition explores the body as the subject of reflection and medium of artistic practice, as in the case of the “confrontational” performances of the South African artist Tracey Rose.

The spread of artistic practices to international networks, along with the critical resonance of a specifically African (and black) feminism, have given shape to the development of a black feminist art. Referencing to historical and political figures, black feminist art depicts bodies that continue a tradition of activism and freedom of speech. Bringing together the work of a generation of women artists from Africa active since the late 1990s, this group exhibition challenges pervasive fantasies and inequalities relating to women’s bodies and sexuality. While in the work of the selected artists the body manifests itself, as a model, support, subject, or/and object, the project as a whole attempts to define and articulate notions of feminism and sexuality in the work of women artists whose body serves as a tool, a representation, or a research field.

Exhibiting artists, from diverse regions of the continent and the diaspora, are: Zoulikha Bouabdellah (Algeria/France, b. 1977); Marcia Kure
(Nigeria, b. 1970); Miriam Syowia Kyambi
(Kenya, b. 1979); Valérie Oka
(Cote d’Ivoire, b. 1967); Tracey Rose
(South Africa, b. 1974); and Billie Zangewa (Malawi/Zimbawe, b. 1973).

Between the presented projects: Kure evokes Saartjie Baartman, “the Hottentot Venus,” who was born in what is now South Africa but taken to Europe in the early nineteenth century to be put on show. As the curator explains, “Baartman has really become a point of departure for thinking about the African woman’s body.”

Bouabdellah—who was at the center of a recent dispute about self-censorship for her Silence piece, an installation composed of prayer mats on which she had arranged high-heeled shoes—presents a series of collages for which she has cut famous paintings depicting women’s bodies into Eastern motifs. Oka presented two performances at the opening reflecting on the sexual clichés inherited from the period of slavery and colonization that stigmatize the black body and the idea that the African woman is allegedly more sensual and better at sex.

Rediscovering, reintegrating, and reinterpreting the body, this exhibition presents the response of a generation of African women artists that challenge stereotypes of the notion “black” sexuality and feminism through diverse means of dialoguing with—and experienced from—the own body.

Maryland to Murano: Neckpieces and Sculptures by Joyce J. Scott
Museum of Art and Design
2 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019
September 30, 2014–March 15, 2015

The Museum of Art and Design in New York presents Maryland to Murano: Neckpieces and Sculptures by Joyce J. Scott, which bringstogether neckpieces and blown-glass sculptures by the renowned “Queen of Beadwork” for the first time. Provocative and confrontational, Scott’s exuberant beaded sculptural forms and neckpieces address contentious political and social issues such as gender, race, and class struggle.

Maryland to Murano examines Scott’s ever-evolving techniques and continued exploration of provocative narratives through her commitment to craft. The show also highlights Scott’s range in both form and content in a extensive body of work created in her workshop in Baltimore, Maryland, and in her recent glass sculptures made at the Berengo Studio on Murano Island in Venice, Italy.

Scott (b. Baltimore, 1948) is a descendant of African Americans, Native Americans, and Scots. She received her first art lessons at home watching her mother—the renowned fiber artist Elizabeth Talford Scott—using unconventional techniques of embroidery and appliqué in creating her quilts. Scott’s creative process is deeply rooted in her ethnic and family heritage: three generations of storytellers, quilters, basket makers, and shapers of wood, metal, and clay.

Through the interplay between these two bodies of work, as well as a documentary video, the exhibition not only reveals the range of Scott’s technique and skill and the complex relationship she has shaped among adornment, content and methodology, but it also expresses her commentary on issues affecting contemporary society in an effort to elicit awareness and response. As the artist states: “It’s important to me to use art in a manner that incites people to look and then carry something home—even it it’s subliminal—that might make a change in them.” Scott’s thought-provoking, portable beaded pieces are certainly inciting us to be carried either way.

Filed under: CWA Picks, Uncategorized — Tags:

Each month, CAA’s Committee on Women in the Arts selects the best in feminist art and scholarship. The following exhibitions and events should not be missed. Check the archive of CWA Picks at the bottom of the page, as several museum and gallery shows listed in previous months may still be on view or touring.

2015 Annual Conference in New York

The CWA Picks for the New York conference are dedicated to Kalliopi Minioudaki for her tremendous efforts in working on the Picks during her tenure on the CWA (2012–15). You will be missed!

Cover of the catalogue for Judith Scott: Bound and Unbound

Judith Scott: Bound and Unbound
Brooklyn Museum
Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Fourth Floor, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11238
October 24, 2014–March 29, 2015

Bringing together sculptures and works on paper that span the eighteen years of her career, this much awaited exhibition is the first survey of Judith Scott’s work that Matthew Higgs has described as “one of the most important bodies of work—‘insider’ or ‘outsider’—produced anywhere and under any circumstances in the past twenty years.”

Judith and her twin sister Joyce were born in Columbus, Ohio. Judith was diagnosed with Down syndrome, and considered retarded due to learning difficulties caused from undiagnosed deafness. At the age of eight she was tragically separated from her sister and spent the next thirty-five years of her life as ward in Dickensian institutions for the disabled and the discarded. Her art production begun after Joyce decided to become Judith’s legal guardian and introduced her to a visionary studio art program, the Creative Growth Art Center.

Judith Scott developed a unique and idiosyncratic method to produce a body of work of remarkable originality and visual complexity. Often working for weeks or months on individual pieces, she begun by pilfering and assembling together all sorts of objects; she then enveloped and intertwined them with miscellaneous threads, twines, strings, ropes, fibers, somewhat protecting and concealing their core. As the art historian Lucienne Peiry says, her unconventional textile sculptures “are endowed with an intens

e power of expression: they resemble giant multicolored cocoons and … are evocative of magical fetishes” holding a special connection to life and death. Moreover, although it does not appear that her work was directed by intention “these sculptures conceal a secret that their author always took great care to hide…. There is no doubt but that the sculptures themselves play an essential role in embodying the physical presence—that of ‘the other twin’—throughout the feverish act of creation. Judith Scott’s approach thus involved a process that may seem paradoxical because, on one hand, it consisted of dissimulating and concealing, and on the other hand, of growing and shaping…The emotional and physical reunion with her sister led Judith Scott to recover an identity, and then to develop an intimate experience at a fantasy level where she sublimated the tearing apart of which she was a victim.”

Cover of the catalogue for Sturtevant: Double Trouble

Sturtevant: Double Trouble
Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd Street, New York, NY 10009
November 9, 2014–February 22, 2015

Elaine Sturtevant (American, 1924–2014) began “repeating” the works of her contemporaries in 1964, using some of the most iconic artworks of her generation as a source and catalyst for the exploration of originality, authorship, and the interior structures of art and image culture. Beginning with her versions of works by Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol, she initially turned the visual logic of Pop art back on itself, probing uncomfortably at the workings of art history in real time. Yet her chameleonlike embrace of other artists’ art has also resulted in her being largely overlooked in the history of postwar American art. As a woman making versions of the work of better-known male artists, she has passed almost unnoticed through the hierarchies of midcentury modernism and postmodernism, at once absent from these histories while nevertheless articulating their structures.

Far more than copies, her versions, for instance, of Johns’s flags, Warhol’s flowers, and Joseph Beuys’s fat chairs are studies in the action of art that expose aspects of its making, circulation, and canonization. Working primarily in video since 2000, the artist remained deeply engaged with the politics of image production and reception, using stock footage from Hollywood films, television, and advertising to point to the exhaustion built into much of postwar cultural production.

This exhibition is the first comprehensive survey in America of Sturtevant’s fifty-year career and the only institutional presentation of her work organized in the United States since her solo show at the Everson Museum of Art in 1973. Rather than taking the form of a traditional retrospective, the exhibition offers a historical overview of her work from a contemporary vantage point, interspersing more recent video pieces among key artworks from all periods of her career.

Marisol: Self-Portrait Looking at The Last Supper
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Lila Acheson Wallace Wing for Modern and Contemporary Art, Design, and Architecture, Gallery 909, 1000 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10028
October 8, 2014–April 5, 2015

For the first time in nearly thirty years, Marisol’s monumental sculptural assemblage, Self-Portrait Looking at The Last Supper, has been on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, complementing the retrospective celebration of the renowned yet understudied sculptor by her recent retrospective that travelled to El Museo del Barrio this fall.

Inspired by Leonardo’s monumental fresco, Marisol (Maria Sol Escobar, b. 1930) faithfully rendered the painting’s composition into three dimensions to create this 30-foot-long installation. The biblical scene depicts Christ and his Apostles at the Passover meal, with each disciple reacting to the announcement by Jesus that one of them would betray him.
The work is primarily carved from wood, with a rough, sketchy technique that includes painted and drawn elements. Marisol is particularly skillful at joining seemingly incompatible components. In fact, the seated figures are neither fully rounded nor consistently flat, oscillating between two and three dimensions. The artist chiseled the central figure of Christ from a block of salvaged New York City brownstone. Christ’s physical solidity and ashen, serene appearance contrast with the blackened, twisted figure of Judas to provide the composition’s emotional tension. In Marisol’s sculptural version of the Last Supper, a novel figure is added opposite the tableau. It portrays the artist contemplating the scene and with a hieratic presence that shares visual affinities with the stocky, solemn figures of Precolumbian sculpture.

Plastic Age: IN/OUT: Banners and Sculptures by Barbara Madsen
New York Public Library
Mid-Manhattan Library, Corner Room, 455 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016
February 3–May 21, 2015

Barbara Madsen’s work is a hybrid practice between photography, print, and sculpture. Her banners, a series of photographs of inanimate plastic objects occupy the windows of the Corner Room on Fifth Avenue and 40th Street. Madsen’s sculptures facing Fifth Avenue are architectural plywood structures, jutting walls, boxed, minimal, acute—stacked on top of each other. The angled surfaces are covered with photographs of objects that have been consumed and discarded. Vibrant color plays a central tenant in her cast of objects: the child’s crimson fireman’s ladder; a lime-colored dome from a hair drier; and cobalt, yellow, scarlet plastic remnants of toys. Within the complex shadows and highlights of the images, dust and flaws are naked—the invisible becomes visible. Madsen is an artist and associate professor in the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University known for her work in photography, prints, sculpture, and installation.

E. E. Smith: The Ballad of Delia
Kim Foster Gallery
529 West 20th Street, New York, NY 10011
January 8–February 14, 2015

The Ballad of Delia is an installation of new photo-based oil prints by E. E. Smith. This piece is part of a series in which Smith uses song forms as the point of departure for her work. The Ballad of Delia consists of ten panels of varying sizes that tell the story of Delia Greene’s murder, an account best known from covers by Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan. Like the singers, and especially the now-forgotten songwriters, Smith takes liberties with the telling of the tale, presenting various details and asking the viewer to fill in the story.

Each panel represents a clue to this murder mystery, yet stylistically they differ. The lush landscape harkens back to the evocative paintings of Albert Pinkham Ryder, drawing us into the location of the crime. Other images are shockingly explicit: the menacing axe and thick footprints allude to police photographic evidence, while the male silhouette suggests a mug shot. And the hand holding a teacup (the victim perhaps?) makes reference to film stills.

In contrast to the songs—and most likely any contemporaneous news accounts—Smith deliberately dispenses with a time-dependent linear narrative, opting instead to display several moments simultaneously. The effect is not so much “the truth” about a murder but “a truth” told without words. The trope of the murder-mystery in American culture is ubiquitous, and Smith’s iteration in The Ballad of Delia makes a compelling episode.

Louise Nevelson: Collage and Assemblage
Pace Gallery
534 West 25th Street, New York, NY 1001
January 24–February 28, 2015

Pace Gallery presents an exhibition of Louise Nevelson’s rarely seen collages, accompanied by a catalogue by Germano Celant. Nevelson began producing collages in the mid-1950s, inspired by her longstanding interest in Cubism and a correspondence with Jean Arp. Prompting her remark “the way I think is collage,” collage signifies an important aspect of her work.

The exhibition features the artist’s earliest collages, produced along her monochromatic black, gold, and white sculptures, by using scraps of wood and metal collected from the streets outside of her Little Italy studio. The show also includes examples of her later unpainted assemblages that manifest a departure from her monochromatic work, while continuing to prove the centrality of collage in her practice. Among the last works of her life, two large-scale, black wall reliefs, including Spring Street (1984), which was installed in Nevelson’s home from its completion until her death, are also part of this exhibition.

Nevelson (b. 1899 Kiev; d. 1988, New York) emigrated from czarist Russia as a child and grew up in Rockland, Maine. As an adult she returned to Europe, where she studied with Hans Hoffmann. Upon her return to the United States, she served as Diego Rivera’s assistant and later as an art instructor in the Works Progress Administration. In 1941, Nevelson had her first solo exhibition and, in 1946, was included for the first time in the Whitney Annual exhibition, which she would participate in eleven more times. The artist exhibited her first all-black sculptures in the mid-1950s. Although she worked in white and gold and later with painted steel, her developments in the 1950s sustained her work throughout the rest of her life. Considered today as one of America’s most significant artists, Nevelson has been the subject of one-artist exhibitions and retrospectives at numerous institutions in the US, and her work is found in many prominent museums and public collections worldwide.

Yael Bartana
Petzel Gallery
456 West 18th Street, New York, NY 10011
January 8–February 14, 2015

Petzel Gallery is pleased to announce a new exhibition by the Israeli artist Yael Bartana (b. 1970, Kfar-Yehezkel, Israel) that debuts her latest two films: Inferno and True Finn. This will be the gallery’s second solo show with the artist.

Bartana studied at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem, the School of Visual Arts in New York, and the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. She has had several solo exhibitions held at various international venues and in New York. Bartana was Poland’s choice for the 2011 Venice Biennale, where she was the first non-Polish citizen to represent the country. Bartana’s photography, film, and sound works investigate society, spirituality, and politics. Her films, film installations, and photographs challenge the national consciousness that is propagated by her native country of Israel. Homeland, return, and belonging are the central questions that she explores. Her investigation includes ceremonies, public rituals and social diversions that are intended to reaffirm the collective identity of countries. Working outside the country, Bartana observes it from a critical distance. Her early films were primarily registrations in which aesthetic interventions, including soundtracks, slowing the image, and specific camera perspectives, played a role.

In Inferno, Bartana films the inauguration of a grand temple, the destruction of it, and the worship of its debris. The starting point is the construction of a replica of Solomon’s Temple in São Paulo by an evangelical neo-Pentecostal church called the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG). The temple is built with stones imported from Israel, as UCKG intends to bring part of the Holy Land to São Paulo, thus inverting the traditional path taken by pilgrims who would leave Brazil for the Holy Land. The film’s conflation of place, history, and belief allows Bartana to weave connections between the complex realities of São Paulo and Jerusalem. Shot and edited with stylistic references to Hollywood action epics, her film employs what she refers to as “historical pre-enactment,” a methodology that commingles fact and fiction, and prophesies and histories. Using this powerful cinematic language, Inferno combines histories of antiquity in the Middle East with Brazil’s contemporary hybrid culture.

True Finn is a documentary-style film asking eight people from Finland one simple question: who is a true Finn? Bartana’s objective with True Finn, produced in connection of Finland’s Pro Arte Foundation, was to create and record a utopian moment that would yield an answer to this question. As a result of an open call, eight Finnish residents of different ethnic, religious, and political background came to live together for seven days in a house in the countryside. Life, discussions, and specifically designed assignments were filmed, with the edited material forming the core of the artwork and allowing True Finn to probe questions about identity, nationhood, and belonging.

Diana Thater: Science, Fiction
David Zwirner
533 West 19th Street, New York, NY 10011
January 8–February 21, 2015

David Zwirner presents new work by Diana Thater in the form of a new type of installation that involves an enclosed video projection, ceiling screen, and light, as well as two new video walls. Thater is one of the most important video artists working today. Since the early 1990s, she has created a wide range of film, video, and installation-based works whose sculptural forms engage spatial perception in physical and conceptual terms. Her work pushes the boundaries of how new-media art is displayed. Through a combination of the temporal qualities of video and the architectural dimension of its installation, Thater’s work explores the artifice of its own production and its capacity to construct perception about the world through its image. Natural diversity, wildlife, and conservation have been persistent themes in the artist’s work. While her in-depth studies of ecosystems and animal behavior propose observation as a kind of understanding in itself, her ethical position is implicit in the work, providing subtly political views of the sublime.

In Science, Fiction, Thater focuses on the dung beetle and the intricate navigation system it deploys in disposing balls of animal excrement, its main source of nutrition. Recent studies have revealed that the species uses the Milky Way to orientate itself at night, currently the only insect known to do so. Thater’s video projection appears at once abstract and particular, juxtaposing the sophistication of the small insects’ navigation systems with the close-up views of their earthy setting in a meditative fusion of macro and micro realms. Deploying a new type of installation, Thater presents the footage on a screen attached to the ceiling, projected from within a closed-off, freestanding box. Mirroring the setup of the scientific experiment with the dung beetles, the white square further references the Light and Space movement in California in the 1960s. The exhibition is illuminated by soft blue lights, creating an environment that mimics the evening sky, while the walls of the box themselves are lit from below, which offers the illusion of levitation. Also on view are two video walls showing the Milky Way, respectively titled Sidereus Nuncius and The Starry Messenger.

Born in 1962 in San Francisco, Thater lives and works in Los Angeles. She studied art history at New York University before receiving her MFA from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. Over the past decade, her work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at prominent institutions worldwide, and she is the recipient of many awards. In fall 2015, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art will host a midcareer survey of her work, which will coincide with an installation at the Aspen Art Museum in Colorado.

Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook
44-19 Purves Street, Long Island City, NY 11101
January 25–March 30, 2015

SculptureCenter presents Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, the Thai artist’s first retrospective in the United States. The exhibition, which brings together over twenty artworks spanning over a decade of the artist’s career, includes video, sculpture, and photography, presenting significant highlights as well as works that have rarely been viewed in the US. As such the show features The Class and Conversation series, for which Rasdjarmrearnsook conducts discussions with corpses, and the video Village and Elsewhere: Artemisia Gentileschi’s Judith Beheading Holofernes; Jeff Koons’ Untitled, and Thai Villagers (2011), in which a Buddhist monk leads a comical conversation about these two Western paintings in a temple. A more recent group of works featured focuses on the status of dogs in Thai culture and beyond. SculptureCenter will also include works produced specifically for this exhibition.

Rasdjarmrearnsook is one of the leading visual artists working in Southeast Asia. She is based in the northern city of Chiang Mai in Thailand, where she teaches in the Faculty of Fine Arts at Chiang Mai University. Rasdjarmrearnsook is internationally known for videos and installations that profoundly explore aspects of human experience and understanding, often touching on taboo topics such as death and insanity. In 2005 she represented Thailand in the Venice Biennale. Working with psychologically rich materials, she considers a wide range of subjects that have existed in marginal spaces, including women, the deceased, the insane, and animals. She creates complex narratives that confront societal structures of power and pedagogy. Concerned with systems of language and communication, Rasdjarmrearnsook attempts to converse with subjects who don’t speak in languages that are comprehended by or even acknowledged by mainstream society.

Looking Back: The 9th White Columns Annual
White Columns
320 West 13th Street, New York, NY 10014
January 13–February 21, 2015

Not an exhibition of women artists, this year’s White Columns Annual is curated by an all women’s curatorial collective, Cleopatra’s. Founded in 2008, Cleopatra’s works collaboratively with artists and cultural producers to create projects that forge new networks and dialogues among individuals, art practices, and institutions. These projects are realized in their flagship noncommercial storefront in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. From 2011 to 2012 the collective also operated a satellite art space in Berlin, Germany. Further investigations also occur in the form of offsite public programs, events, and printed publications, encompassing various fields and locales. The aim of Cleopatra’s is to present work and advance ideas informed by both individual and collective perspectives, and to disseminate that work and those ideas among a broad and diverse audience. Current and founding members of the Cleopatra’s are Erin Somerville, Colleen Grennan, Bridget Finn, and Bridget Donahue.

Samara Golden: The Flat Side of the Knife
22-25 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, NY 11101
October 26, 2014–August 30, 2015

MoMA PS1 presents Samara Golden’s first solo museum exhibition and her largest installation to date: The Flat Side of the Knife. The Los Angeles–based Golden (American, b. 1973) creates immersive installations that explore what the artist calls the “sixth dimension,” where a multiple pasts, presents, and futures coexist. Golden’s multilayered installation fills the double-height of MoMA PS1’s Duplex Gallery with staircases, beds, couches, lamps, musical instruments, video, and sound. The Flat Side of the Knife combines physical with illusory spaces. Some appear only in mirrors, reflecting what the artist refers to as “layers of consciousness,” akin to psychological and hallucinatory spaces in the mind. Her use of mirrors in conjunction with sculptural elements made from a silvery insulation board allows the illusion of space to expand in multiple directions, suggesting imaginary spaces, such as adjacent rooms that do not exist in reality.

Golden received her MFA from Columbia University and has exhibited her work at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; SculptureCenter in New York; Night Gallery in Los Angeles; CANADA in New York; Cardi Black Box in Milan; Loyal Gallery in Stockholm; and Galerie Crevecoeur in Paris. Most recently, her work was featured in the Hammer Museum’s biennial, Made in L.A., in 2014.

Anne Imhof: DEAL
22-25 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, NY 11101
January 31–March 9, 2015

MoMA PS1 presents DEAL, Anne Imhof’s inaugural solo project in the United States, which consists of a two-day performance followed by an exhibition. The project, conceived specifically for the museum, revolves around the structures of illegal street transactions that are underpinned by strict rules and codes while functioning beyond words and juridical regulations. Along the opening performances, nine performers will enact highly complex and abstract movements, evoking power relations, secret codes, and unspoken rules that underlie daily human interactions. Here, tasks and patterns are unceasingly repeated over an entire day and progressively shift as they push toward a point of collapse. The exhibition expands on the same formal interrogations and ideas through diverse media such as drawing, video, sculpture, painting, and a variation of the initial performance, SOTSB for DEAL, which repeats every Sunday during museum hours.

Imhof (German, b. 1978) was trained as a visual artist and considers the different media as integral to the process for creating images that gradually emerge in time. Live events, their documentation, objects, and props—Imhof believes that each component in a body of work is interrelated and of equal relevance, contributing to the creation of a visual image that is perpetually in process, highly precarious, and in a constant verge of dissolution.

Chitra Ganesh: Eyes of Time
Brooklyn Museum
Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Herstory Gallery, Fourth Floor, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11238
December 12, 2014–July 12, 2015

The Herstory Gallery at the Brooklyn Museum is hosting Eyes of Time, an exhibition by the Brooklyn-based artist Chitra Ganesh that explores ideas of femininity, empowerment, and multiplicity. Her drawing, installation, text-based work, and collaborations suggest and excavate buried narratives typically absent from official canons of history, literature, and art. For more than a decade, Ganesh has used the iconography of mythology, literature, and popular culture to bring to light feminist and queer narratives.

For Eyes of Time, the artist draws inspiration from the museum’s encyclopedic collection to create a site-specific multimedia installation at the gallery. Eyes of Time focus on the portrayal of female power and plurality based on Kali—the Hindu goddess of destruction and rebirth—as well as other figures from Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party as point of departure. Tales of Amnesia (2002)—a zine inspired by Indian comic books acquired by the museum—is also on view.

As stated about her creative practice, “by layering disparate materials and visual languages, Ganesh asks her viewers to ‘seek and consider new narratives of sexuality and power.’ In this process the body becomes a site of transgression and transformation, both social and psychic, doubled, dismembered and continually exceeding its limits.”

TENDREL – Interconnections
Tibet House
22 West 15th Street, New York, NY 10011
January 2–March 2, 2015

TENDREL – Interconnections is an exhibition by artists who are linked to and inspired by the life work of Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, the first Western woman to become a Buddhist nun. Diverse yet interconnected, the themes investigated by the artists include Tibet and its culture, Buddhism, women, spiritual life, meditation, and activism. Works consist of photographs of nomads and nunneries in Tibet that provide profound insight and stark contrast to the social cultural changes of the Tibetan community, and art based on Buddhist and meditative iconography that explores the practice of visualization in painting, sculpture, drawing, and detailed stained-glass artistry. Among those presenting works are these artists: Diane Barker, Caterina De Re, Mary DeVincentis, Maxine Henryson, Heather Kessinger, Chrysanne Stathacos, Tsunma Jamyang Donma/Yulokod Studios, and Kate Temple.

Art in the First Person Lecture Series
School of Visual Arts
Various Locations in Manhattan
February 3–17, 2015

The School of Visual Arts presents the spring 2015 lineup of its Art in the First Person lecture series, jointly presented by the following departments: MA Curatorial Practice, MPS Digital Photography, BFA Fine Arts, MFA Fine Arts and BFA Visual and Critical Studies. All events are free and open to the public. The lecture series includes:

  • Amy Smith-Stewart, independent curator and art advisor, on Tuesday, February 3, 6:00 PM
  • Lumi Tan, curator at the Kitchen, on Tuesday, February 10, 6:00 PM
  • Kira Pollack, director of photography at Time, on Tuesday, February 10, 7:00 PM
  • Judith Page, artist, on Tuesday, February 17, 6:00 PM

Collective Creativity: Collaboration and Collectives in Feminist Art Practice
Feminist Art Project
Museum of Arts and Design, 2 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019
February 14, 2015

Filed under: CWA Picks, Uncategorized — Tags:

Each month, CAA’s Committee on Women in the Arts selects the best in feminist art and scholarship. The following exhibitions and events should not be missed. Check the archive of CWA Picks at the bottom of the page, as several museum and gallery shows listed in previous months may still be on view or touring.

February 2015

The February CWA Picks are dedicated to Kalliopi Minioudaki for her tremendous efforts in working on the Picks during her tenure on the CWA (2012–15). You will be missed!

Poetry and Exile
British Museum
Gallery 34, Great Russell Street, London
WC1B 3DG United Kingdom
October 1, 2014–March 1, 2015

Housed within the Islamic World Galleries, Poetry and Exile displays a series of works by artists of the Middle East and North Africa recently acquired by the British Museum. This small but powerful exhibition explores the effects of exile through the eyes of four women artists:Ipek Duben, Mireille Kassar, Mona Saudi, and Canan Tolon.

Tolon’s series ofink and graphite drawings, titled Futur Imparfait, is a memoir fromher exile from Istanbul to France, where she spent a decade in hospital as a result of contracting polio as a child. In the series Tolon portrays an exile not only from home, but also from her own body. Duben’s book Refugee belies the helplessness and terror suffered by people forced to flee their homeland with images on delicate gauze pages and using childlike embroidery that depicts the crossing of borders. The Istanbul-born Duben has been making books and installations that focus on identity, domestic violence, and the worldwide forced migration of the twentieth century.

The Jordanian artist Saudi combines the evocative verses of the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish with drawings, while the Lebanese-born Kassar developed a series of drawings inspired by the Persian poem The Conference of the Birds. Here, Kassar conjures a story of exile from her own family history. Originally from Mosul and Mardin—present day Iraq and Turkey—her ancestors fled the Ottoman massacres of minorities during the late-nineteenth and early twentieth century.

Zoe Strauss, Drying Money, Mississippi Gulf Coast, Mid September, 2005 (artwork © Zoe Strauss)

Zoe Strauss: Sea Change
Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery
Haverford College, Whitehead Campus Center, 370 Lancaster Avenue, Haverford, PA 19041
January 23–March 6, 2015

Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery presents Sea Change, an exhibition of photographs, vinyl prints, and projected images by Zoe Strauss. Throughout this project, the celebrated Philadelphia photographer traces the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in southern Louisiana in 2010, and Hurricane Sandy in 2012: three ecological disasters that have changed America’s landscape.

With little formal training as a photographer or artist, Strauss (b. Philadelphia, 1970) uses photography as the most direct means of representing her chosen subjects. Her images, often both disturbing and touching, are focused mainly on American working-class experience. She founded the Philadelphia Public Art Project in 1995 with the aim of exhibiting art in nontraditional venues in order to give the citizens of Philadelphia access to art in their everyday lives. She now refers to this initiative as an “epic narrative” of her own neighborhood that reflects the beauty and struggle of everyday life.

True to her creative statement, Strauss captures the fast and slow tragedies of global warming through the portrayal of an irreparable damage and the hope of mending. Flattened sceneries and architectural remains stand alongside graffiti and signs including encouraging pleas, words that express the despair of a sudden displacement as much as the hope to return and belong, again. Sea Change is accompanied by a publication designed by Random Embassy.

Otobong Nkanga: Tracing Confessions
Museum Folkwang
Museumsplatz 1, 45128 Essen, Germany
January 23–May 18, 2015

Museum Folkwang presents Tracing Confessions, a two-part project created by Otobong Nkanga (born Nigeria, 1974). Based in the museum collection, Nkanga explores issues of identity and relationships between objects and people. As part of the Kunststiftung NRW’s project 25/25/25, Nkanga invited members of the museum’s staff to be photographed with selected pieces from this collection. During the month of January, the resulting photographs will be distributed as billboards throughout the city. Bringing the museum to the public space, the piece aims to connect with Essen residents in their everyday lives. This public intervention is presented along an installation designed specifically for the museum. Unveiling shared stories between objects and people, Tracing Confessions interrogates the origin of the museum artifacts, and in that their potential of shaping identities.

Trained in the converging traditions of performance and live arts, Nkanga leads an intensive research-based artistic practice. Her heterogeneous and multidisciplinary practice includes drawing, photography, installation, and performance art. Her sensitive observation on social and topographical changes in the environment, and on the concept of diaspora, examines the regional and cultural complexities that are embedded in these experiences. Using her own and others’ body and voice, Nkanga proves that the subjects of her projects are to be a lived and truly embodied experience. Through language and visual and physical narratives, her work invites viewers to engage in a dialogue that reflects on identity, memory, and perception.

Carolee Schneemann: Infinity Kisses
Merchant House
Herengracht 254, 1016BV, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
January 22–April 12 2015

The Merchant House in Amsterdam presents Carolee Schneemann: Infinity Kisses, an exhibition of works on paper, photographs, and a video by the renowned American multimedia artist. The exhibition pivots on a site-specific installation of the video Infinity Kisses-The Movie (2008), first shown in Amsterdam. The show is also accompanied with a fully illustrated catalogue with an essay by Kalliopi Minioudaki.

The experiential body—yet not only her own naked one, as this exhibition argues—has been paramount in Carolee Schneemann’s multifariously radical politics and idiosyncratic poetics. Focusing on the photographic series (2004) and video (2008) that sensually portray the morning kisses given to Schneemann by her cats, Cluny and Vesper, this exhibition foregrounds the radical centrality of the cat in her work—as lifelong companion and a symbol of what patriarchal culture represses and dismisses, namely female sexuality. Returning Schneemann’s legendary yet controversial interspecies “kisses” to a house that variously evokes her own—due to the fact that the Merchant House is located in a historic canal house that reminds the artist of her home in Springtown, New York, itself central in her production—this exhibition highlights the domesticity that characterizes the poetics of intimacy inherent in a great part of her work.

In contrast to the ecstatic bodies of Infinity Kisses, the accompanying works in the exhibition juxtapose gruesomely violated or caged feline bodies with news images of global atrocities. Sampling the gestural painterliness and collage aesthetics that underpin much of her work, these prints hint at the darker role the body plays in Schneemann’s sorrowful diagnosis of the malaises of modernity and patriarchy, of Western civilization, and of the current stage of the society of spectacle. An extraordinary example of her conceptual feminist poetics, Unexpectedly Research (1992) illuminates the research and “double knowledge” that underpin not only Schneemann’s feminist critique of the suppression of the sacred feminine, but also its radical bodily retrieval by the artist.

Janet Biggs, production still from Can’t Find My Way Home, 2015, four-channel video, high-definition video installation with sound, 8:35 min. (artwork © Janet Biggs)

Janet Biggs: Echo of the Unknown
Blaffer Art Museum
University of Houston,
120 Fine Arts Building, Houston, TX 77204-4018
January 17–March 21, 2015

Janet Biggs: Echo of the Unknown is part of the Science Spring at the Blaffer Art Museum. Organized by the independent curator Janet Phelps, this multidisciplinary exhibition combines video, sound, and objects to explore the role of memory in the construction of identity. Drawing from the artist’s personal memories of the effects of Alzheimer’s on various family members, stories of public figures coping with the disease, and research conducted with neurologists and geoscientists, Echo of the Unknown raises fundamental questions about how we become—and how we lose our sense of—who we are.

Works in the exhibition include Can’t Find My Way Home, a four-channel video installation inspired by memories of the artist’s grandfather, an avid mineral collector who could recall the most difficult names of mineral species yet not his own as he succumbed to the disease. This piece juxtaposes documentation of neurological research conducted in New York and Houston laboratories with footage shot in the crystal cavern below the Merkers salt mine in Germany, itself a potent metaphor for the brain and its sites of memory.

The video installation The Persistence of Hope focuses on the solace Biggs’s uncle found in his residual memory of birds. Only after his death Biggs discovered her uncle’s peculiar ritualized attempt to sustain beauty and hold onto life as he felt it fade away by gathering hummingbirds and placing them in his freezer. Alternating imagery of gravity-defying hummingbirds with footage shot in the Arctic and in laboratories where human brain cells are preserved in freezers for neurological research, The Persistence of Hope paints a tender picture of life caught between hope and futility.

Breathing without Air follows an aging mineral collector as he searches for the perfect specimen at a trade show, where he eventually loses his way among the many aisles of vendors and displays. All three pieces share a soundscape based on Glen Campbell’s 1968 song “Wichita Lineman.” Comprising scores based loosely on Campbell’s tune by various composers, Biggs’s Wichita Lineman is a haunting sonic homage to the tenacity of Campbell who, upon his diagnosis with Alzheimer’s, decided to continue to tour for as long as he could.

An ambitious series of lectures, gallery talks and panel discussions accompanies the exhibition throughout its duration, enhancing the exhibition’s role as a catalyst for cross-disciplinary learning.

Lynn Hershman Leeson: Civic Radar
ZKM | Karlsruhe
Lorenzstraße 19, 76135 Karlsruhe, Germany
December 13, 2014–April 6, 2015

Lynn Hershman Leeson has been mining body art and new media for more than forty years. Her cutting-edge work has run a broad gamut that ranges from the feminist performance Roberta Breitmore, for which she lived a double life as herself and an alter ego for most of the 1970s, to a series of science-fiction films starring Tilda Swinton. Acknowledged for her feminist politics, Hershman Leeson chronicled the feminist movement in the 2011 documentary Women Art Revolution. Yet her contributions to technologically sophisticated art have been widely understudied. Conversely, Lynn Hershman Leeson: Civic Radar, the first comprehensive retrospective of her work in a museum and especially in Germany, not only overviews all the creative phases of her work, bringing together rarely shown early works like her 1960s wax and burned sculptures along with masterful highlights, but it also strives to acknowledge her pioneering role as an innovative and influential new-media artist.

As such Civic Radar brings together works that exemplify Hershman Leeson’s multimedia investigation of identity and various modes of surveillance, such as Lorna (1983/84), one of the first interactive projects on videodisc, and Teknolust (2002), which addresses cyberidentity, artificial intelligence, cloning, and the decoupling of sexuality and human reproduction. The exhibition also include recent works that use robots, mass-communication media such as smart-phones, and the latest scientific developments in the field of genetics and regenerative medicine, including three-dimensional bioprinters that create human body parts.

Hershman Leeson received a bachelor of science in museum administration and art at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and a master of arts in art criticism at San Francisco State University. From 1993 through 2004 she was professor of electronic arts at the University of California, Davis. From 2004 through 2010 Hershman Leeson held the Andrew D. White Chair at Cornell University in Ithaca. In 2007 the artist assumed charge of the San Francisco Art Institute’s Film Department. Over the years, she has received numerous awards, including the Siemens Medienkunst Preis in 1995 and the Prix Ars Electronica (Golden Nica) in 1995.

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Each month, CAA’s Committee on Women in the Arts selects the best in feminist art and scholarship. The following exhibitions and events should not be missed. Check the archive of CWA Picks at the bottom of the page, as several museum and gallery shows listed in previous months may still be on view or touring.

January 2015

Nicole Miller at Artists’ Film International
Ballroom Marfa
108 East San Antonio Street, Marfa, TX 79843
November 22, 2014–February 22, 2015

Ballroom Marfa is presenting two recent videos by Nicole Miller, as a highlighted artist participating at the Artists’ Film International. This project means a collection of artists’ film, video and animation from around the world that has been coorganized with Whitechapel Gallery in London.

Miller (b. 1982; Tucson, Arizona) lives and works in Los Angeles. Her films and installations explore the transformative capabilities of the moving image to reconstruct interpretations of self and culture. Through storytelling, self-representation and self-presentation become a narrative in search for the reconstitution of physical and psychic manifestations of loss. Her videos often focus on the interplay between preconception and reality in terms of African American identity, as in the case of The Conductor (2009), presented earlier this year at the High Line Art Program.

In this occasion, Ballroom Marfa is presenting two recent projects by Miller. In David (2012) we can observe the fragmented image of the profile of a man that the artist encountered by chance on the street. Here, he narrates the events that lead to the amputation of his left arm whilst his right limb is reflected in a mirror—a rehabilitation technique that helps patients deal with the painful symptoms of a phantom limb. Death of a School (2014) is a predominantly silent four-channel video that meditates on the events of a soon to be shutdown school in Tucson, which is Miller’s hometown. Presented together, Miller’s films become powerful narratives that carry the possibility of reconstitution of lost histories and identities.

Johanna Calle: Indicios
Casas Reigner
Calle 70A # 7-41, Bogotá, Colombia
October 2, 2014–January 30, 2015

Casas Riegner presents Indicios (Signs), an exhibition that gathers Johanna Calle’s most representative works produced between 1990 and 2014. Seeking to examine closely the visual language that has characterized her work for more than two decades, the exhibition includes a selection of projects in which different processes developed by the artist are juxtaposed. In each series of work, Calle exposes her approach to the creative process, where she also unveils a sense of unsettledness and curiosity.

Featuring her conceptual research and creative use of unconventional materials, the display includes Calle’s assemblages, signs, and phonetic representations of indigenous languages, photographic drawings made on vintage analogue photographs, and the intervention of archives and documents that are part of different research projects. For the documentation-based installation Hermanas Figueiredo (2013–14), Calle reconstructed a story as a gesture of redemption to the Brazilian sisters that devoted their life to a scientific research around the life of butterflies in the first half of the twentieth century. However, they have lost the legal battle with a recognized Brazilian professor who was hired to catalogue their collection and had deliberately chosen to wrongly assign its authorship and ownership. The case was dismissed and labeled as exhaustive and rigorous maniac women’s work.

Calle holds a BFA from Universidad de Los Andes en Bogotá and an MFA from Chelsea College of Arts in London, England. Her projects Perímetros I and Perímetros II were included at the thirty-first Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil in 2014.

Donna Sharrett: Love Songs
Pavel Zoubok Gallery
531 West 26th Street, New York, NY 10001
January 8–February 7, 2015

Pavel Zoubok Gallery presents Love Songs, a solo exhibition of new work by Donna Sharrett, including two of her largest—yet humanly scaled—works to date, framed by Sampling, a related group show curated by Dara Meyers-Kingsley.

With a variety of needlework techniques, Sharrett creates painstakingly wrought concentric assemblages sewn together from a potent and personal material lexicon consisting of donated or inherited jewelry, clothing, and buttons; hair, bone beads, dirt, and guitar strings. Passed down from a congenial and ancestral sorority of craftswomen and fiber artists, Sharrett’s techniques instill in each piece cross-cultural references to life, death, and rebirth. Addressing the shared human ability and desire to remember, her works transcend the confines of economic, religious and cultural boundaries.They instead evoke “life as it is lived and remembered—a notion of lineage that is not always linear and narrative but sometimes acts more like a spiral—a growing flower that rises from the earth and whose seeds scatter to become the next crop.”

Sharrett (b. Philadelphia, 1958) is the recipient of two fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts as well as notable residencies and grants from Smack Mellon, the Bronx Museum and the Millay Colony for the Arts Residency. Her work has been widely exhibited, including a solo exhibition at the Everson Museum in Syracuse, New York, and group exhibitions at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York; the Bellevue Arts Museum in Bellevue, Washington; the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York; and Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York. Her work is represented in the collections of the Museum of Contemporary Arts and Design in New York; the United States Embassy in Valletta, Malta; the Hebrew Home for the Aged in New York; and J. P. Morgan Chase in New York. A full-color catalogue will accompany the exhibition.

Cameron: Songs for the Witch Woman
MOCA Pacific Design Center
8687 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood, CA 90069
October 11, 2014–January 18, 2015

Cameron: Songs for the Witch Woman is the first survey of Cameron’s work since 1989 and explores the artist’s role as a seminal figure within Los Angeles’s midcentury counterculture, her unique melding of surrealism and mysticism, and her unwavering commitment to live her life as art. “Navigating between disciplines and traditions of poetry, cinema, visual arts, and spirituality; Cameron has opened many doors that continue to intrigue and inspire generations of artists,” while “her hallucinated vision … embodies an aspect of modernity that deeply doubts and defies cartesian logic at a moment in history when these values have shown their own limitations,” as stated by MOCA’s director, Philippe Vergne.

Born in Belle Plaine, Iowa, Cameron (Marjorie Cameron Parsons Kimmel) (1922–1995) emerged as an artist, performer, poet, and occult practitioner in Los Angeles, uniquely bridging the city’s flourishing spiritual and art worlds at midcentury. She arrived in Los Angeles by way of the Second World War, where she drew maps and labored in a photographic unit for the United States Navy. A visionary painter and unparalleled draftsman best known today for her paintings and drawings of human and fantastical figures, she spend her last days in West Hollywood largely unrecognized. Cameron’s frenetic, delicate renderings of mythological figures reveal a singular attention to line and the idea of spiritual metamorphosis, evoking the surrealism and symbolism of the French poets. She is closely associated with Beat artists such as Wallace Berman, George Herms, and Dennis Hopper, the filmmakers Kenneth Anger and Curtis Harrington, and the occultist Aleister Crowley, while she was mentor to younger artists and poets such as David Meltzer and Aya (Tarlow). Cameron’s artwork appeared in the first issue of Berman’s celebrated journal Semina (1955–64) and has also been included in group exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Martin-Gropius Bau in Berlin, the Pasadena Museum of California Art, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery in 1989.

Comprised of nearly one hundred artworks and ephemeral artifacts, the exhibition includes pieces formerly thought to be lost, ranging from early paintings to drawings, sketchbooks, and poetry from her late years, as well as ephemera and correspondence with individuals such as her husband Jack Parsons (1914–1952), a rocket pioneer and a founder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the renowned mythologist Joseph Campbell. The exhibition brings to life the recently published book titled Songs for the Witch Woman that features a series of poems written by Parsons alongside illustrations drawn by Cameron that echo the intimate themes of their turbulent love story.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Cameron Parsons Foundation is producing an eighty-eight-page catalogue with approximately seventy-five full-color illustrations.

Sylvie Blocher: S’inventeur autrement
Mudam Luxemburg
Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean 3, Park Dräi Eechelen L-1499 Luxembourg-Kirchberg
August 11, 2014–May 25, 2015

Since the early 1990s, the French artist Sylvie Blocher has built up a body of video work that takes the human as its material, in all its fragility, unpredictability, and yet full presence. She engages with a poetics of relation, emancipation, the questioning of identities, the writing of history, the permeability of the masculine/feminine border, and codes of representation in a world under control. Created in different geographic regions, her works are based on exchange: they often involve the participation of lay people, who are invited to present themselves in a completely new fashion before the camera, as the artist “shares her authority with her models” to create what she calls Living Pictures.

This solo exhibition at Mudam Luxembourg revolves around an ambitious project titled Dreams Have a Language, which combines a participative work, a video installation, and the production of a movie. As envisioned by the artist, the show was meant to be “the story of an event at a museum in Luxembourg in which the visitors will not be content to look politely at the works, but decide impulsively to experience leaving the world for a few minutes, in a journey filmed and broadcast, a story of fragmented, floating bodies. Then a movie, the start of another story.”

During the first weeks of the exhibition, the museum’s Grand Hall became a fully active film studio that centered on the operation of a flying machine twelve meters tall. Through the placement of an ad in various media, Blocher invited the public to visit the museum, to leave the ground for a few minutes, and to “rethink the world.” “Shooting conditions: allow one hour and present yourself at Mudam with an idea to change the world. It might be poetic, political, aesthetic, emotional, revolutionary, scientific, architectural, educational, financial, culinary, sonic, etc.” Forming the content for a video installation at the center of the exhibition, the pictures of the suspended bodies will be the starting point for a movie created with the Luxembourg director Donato Rotunno, to be released in spring 2015. By combining a documentary approach with fictional writing, the movie will offer “an assemblage of words, gestures and moments that will open up an imaginary universe, an expectancy, a suspense.”

A survey of the artist’s work is also presented in two of the museum’s galleries, where video installations and drawings sample key themes of Blocher’s work: the sharing of responsibility, the question of politics, identity, dreams, and utopia. By using music to give new life to important speeches and manifestos made in contemporary history (by Angela Davis, Édouard Glissant, and Barack Obama, among others), the five videos that form the series Speeches (2009–12), which are part of the Mudam Collection, engage with the political dimension of the imagination, individual and collective. Other works, such as the diptych Change the Scenario (Conversation with Bruce Nauman) (2013) and the three videos recently created by Blocher in Texas, tackle historic and racial aspects in the construction of the individual. Placed at the entrance to each gallery, a series of drawings that the artist has made every day for a year, based on the front page of the newspaper Libération, emphasizes the passages between the personal and the political initiated by her practice.

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Each month, CAA’s Committee on Women in the Arts selects the best in feminist art and scholarship. The following exhibitions and events should not be missed. Check the archive of CWA Picks at the bottom of the page, as several museum and gallery shows listed in previous months may still be on view or touring.

December 2014

Suzanne Lacy: Gender Agendas
Museo Pecci Milano
Ripa di Porta Ticinese 113, Milan, Italy
November 14, 2014–January 6, 2015

The Milan Pecci Museum is presenting a Suzanne Lacy’s Gender Agendas. This retrospective exhibition launches a whole new line of investigation at the the Centre for Contemporary Art Luigi Pecci that has been dedicated to the pioneering work in the arts developed internationally in the sixties, seventies, and eighties. Born in California in 1945 and based in Los Angeles, Lacy is an influential artist, educator, and writer. She is known as one of the pioneer artists blending Conceptual and Performance art with social commitment in the early seventies in Los Angeles. Her approach to researching and making follows her questioning the relationship of “service” to “activism,” and of both to “art practice.” Her diverse approach to this investigation stretches from explorations of the body and intimate reflections to the production of large and lengthy public demonstrations involving dozens of artists and thousands of spectators.

Gender Agendas presents, for the first time in Europe, a large series of Lacy’s projects that follow a constant of her artistic development: the investigation of the female condition. From a more intimately approach to a strong political and civic one, Lacy explores the power of art as a useful and effective tool for social struggle and for the promotion of progressive ideas, digging in this way into the meanings of the hundreds of anonymous female and working-class performers who would have no access to the communication systems otherwise. Sexual exploitation, violence, media representation of the aging woman, and social issues ranging from racism to the conditions of labor and class may have been provocative and avant-garde in the seventies and eighties, but are still deeply relevant today.

Through the curatorial approach of Lacy’s retrospective exhibition, Fabio Cavallucci and Megan Steinman, propose a readaptation of some of her most important works, including Prostitution Notes (1974); Three Weeks in May (1977); In Mourning and In Rage (1977); The Crystal Quilt (1985–87); and Full Circle (1994); as well as one of her most recent projects, Storying Rape (2012), a discussion among significant personalities in the media, activists, and politicians in an attempt to find a new cultural narrative that describes sexual violence.

Birgit Jurgenssen
Fergus McCaffrey
514 West 26th Street, New York, NY 10001
November 6–December 20 2014

For the second exhibition of Birgit Jurgenssen, Fergus McCaffrey brings together a large group of her photographic works in combination with a number of sculptures in order to underscore the variety and complexity of her work.

Highly experimental, Jurgenssen’s photographic work is exemplified by her Stoff-arbeiten (Fabric Works), which were created from the late 1980s to the early 1990s. The “fabric works” consist of photographic prints mounted on canvases that have been screwed to iron frames made by the artist, giving a highly sculptural character to their combinations. Thin, translucent fabrics such as gauze are stretched over the surface, veiling and slightly obscuring the images. The photographs themselves are created through a range of processes, including photograms, solarization, and multiple exposures. The juxtaposition of hard-welded iron frames and delicate textile emphasizes their materiality and draws a direct relationship to Jürgenssen’s sculptural works.

The exhibition also includes works that Jurgenssen referred to as “painted” photography. These large format photograms were created by manipulating sheets of photo paper in developer and fixing baths and by pouring photo chemicals directly over the paper. The resulting marbled and dripped images were then exposed to light and fixed, after which the surfaces were scratched, creating gestural drawings over the “painted” photographic surfaces.

Born and educated in Vienna, Jürgenssen (1949–2003) died prematurely at the age of 54. Her studio practice encompassed drawing, performance, photography, and sculpture, through which she compellingly combined classically refined draftsmanship, mixed media, and experimental photo techniques. She is best known for her connection to the Austrian feminist movement of the 1970s. Equally important is her engagement with Surrealism and her concern for materials and processes.

Cover of the catalogue for Sturtevant: Double Trouble

Sturtevant: Double Trouble
Museum of Modern Art
Special Exhibitions Gallery, Third Floor; and Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III Painting and Sculpture Gallery, Gallery 5, Fifth Floor, 11 West 53rd Street, New York, NY 10009
November 9, 2014–February 22, 2015

Elaine Sturtevant (American, 1924–2014) began “repeating” the works of her contemporaries in 1964, using some of the most iconic artworks of her generation as a source and catalyst for the exploration of originality, authorship, and the interior structures of art and image culture. Beginning with her versions of works by Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol, she initially turned the visual logic of Pop art back on itself, probing uncomfortably at the workings of art history in real time. Yet her chameleonlike embrace of other artists’ art has also resulted in her being largely overlooked in the history of postwar American art. As a woman making versions of the work of better-known male artists, she has passed almost unnoticed through the hierarchies of midcentury modernism and postmodernism, at once absent from these histories while nevertheless articulating their structures.

Far more than copies, her versions, for instance, of Johns’s flags, Warhol’s flowers, and Joseph Beuys’s fat chairs are studies in the action of art that expose aspects of its making, circulation, and canonization. Working primarily in video since 2000, the artist remained deeply engaged with the politics of image production and reception, using stock footage from Hollywood films, television, and advertising to point to the exhaustion built into much of postwar cultural production.

This exhibition is the first comprehensive survey in America of Sturtevant’s fifty-year career and the only institutional presentation of her work organized in the United States since her solo show at the Everson Museum of Art in 1973. Rather than taking the form of a traditional retrospective, the exhibition offers a historical overview of her work from a contemporary vantage point, interspersing more recent video pieces among key artworks from all periods of her career.

Michelle Stuart: Silent Movies
Leslie Tonkonow: Art Works and Projects
535 West 22nd Street, Sixth Floor, New York, NY 10011
November 1–December 20, 2014

Michelle Stuart (American, b. 1933) became internationally known in the 1970s for innovative works that synthesize Land art, drawing, and sculpture, as well as her pioneering use of natural materials in sculpture, painting, and drawing. Since 2011 photography has been her primary medium, although present in her work both literally and conceptually since the 1970s. Devising a highly personal and original method of photographic manipulation, Stuart conveys the impression of deeply felt images seen through time and layers of consciousness. It is “a combination of fact and fiction, truth and lies—and lies that tell the truth,” as put by the artist.

The exhibition at Leslie Tonkonow comprises photographs drawn from Stuart’s vast archive of analogue and digital photographs taken for almost half a century. Stuart activates their aesthetic and storytelling potential by arranging them in gridlike groups or occasionally altering them. Each work is composed of between seven and seventy separate images, digitally printed on 8½ x 11 inch sheets of archival paper. Both painterly and cinematic in their rhythmic visual arrangement, the works in this exhibition amount to meditations on the nature of memory.

As dreamlike recollections of her past, these works continue her lifelong artistic engagement with specific locations, while affirming the significance of place as a unique source of memory. “Memories are silent until we either articulate them in words on paper or depict them visually,” as put by the artist herself. Two years ago, in Palimpsests, her first solo show of exclusively photographic works, Stuart expressed thoughts on war, the cosmos, the passing of time, and on form itself. The compositions in Silent Movies, all created since then, present universal themes with deeply personal associations that contain keys to momentous events and evoke times and places in a manner that is both specific and archetypical. With abundant literary, cinematic, and historical references, these works do not merely address memories, but, as put in the press release, the very process of recall itself.

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