Sunday, March 11, 2007


Well it seems the force of a narrative thread, according to New York Times art critic Holland Cotter, in reviewing the Los Angeles, Museum of Contemporary Art, MoCA, exhibition, WACK!: Art and the Feminist Revolution, is missing.

In the spirit of feminism, Cotter's review of this first major museum show of early feminist work, while highly supportive of the show, also provides useful criticism. This criticism doesn't diminish Cotter's greater understanding of feminist art of the 60s and 70s:

"One thing is certain: Feminist art, which emerged in the 1960s with the women’s movement, is the formative art of the last four decades. Scan the most innovative work, by both men and women, done during that time, and you’ll find feminism’s activist, expansionist, pluralistic trace. Without it identity-based art, crafts-derived art, performance art and much political art would not exist in the form it does, if it existed at all. Much of what we call postmodern art has feminist art at its source."

My strongest connection to this thinking is the emergence of performance art. It always seemed to be the freshest and riskiest form of feminist art. Its place as an art form was wildly debated at the time. Performance art also seems to me to be essential to revolution on many levels.

This show, curated by Cornelia Butler, Chief Curator of drawing at MoMA, travels in the summer to P.S. 1 in Brooklyn. Hopefully by the time it arrives solutions will be provided that enlarge and better elucidate the role and context of feminism in the progress of art. As the reviewer suggests, waiting 40 years for something to happen leaves one wanting, whatever the show.

Photo above: "The exhibition “Wack!” begins with “Abakan Red” (1969), a suspended fiber sculpture by Magdalena Abakanowicz."

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