Sunday, March 30, 2008

Wack at PS !

Yesterday Julia and I went over the bridge to see WACK!: Art and the Feminist Revolution. The first wonderful thing was seeing Thomas who runs the bookstore. I didn't know he had that job -- cool. The second thing was that we were surprised by how wonderful the show was. There was a fair amount of work that was tedious, including the pieces that said 'Angry Marilyn', 'Angry Jennifer' and so on. Okay, you're angry -- we get it. Others bored me a bit. Some were so powerful that they were painful to look at -- particularly collages of neato sparkling houses with war scenes out the window. For me, some of the highlights were the 'stone' painting, the woodcuts, the Aunt Jaminina with a gun. And a few artists I already new about -- Aliice Neel, Eva Hesse, and Francesca Woodman. I must note that we only saw the first floor.

But, as much as I liked the show, I have a few questions. More notably, what makes all of these pieces 'feminist'? If I think and think, I might be able to attribute some feminist qualities to each piece perhaps, although that is not necessarily how I would think of them. I found myself wondering what made this or that work feminist. The work struck me as coming from many different points of view: anti-racist, sublime, figurative, abstract, feminist, and anti-war. Some were just, well, art works by women.

Julia pointed out that they probably used 'feminist' as a marketing scheme to draw in the crowd. This has worked. An unnamed source tell us that this has been one of the most successful shows ever. But, I am very uncomfortable with using the term 'feminist' to market stuff -- if this is the intension. Isn't this going against feminist ideals -- we are ultimately 'marketing women' because of their gender. Our household feminist, JIM, argues that men have had their shows for years, and women have been excluded and he's right.

Here's my very radical feminist idea...why call it a feminist show or a women's show? Why not slap the men in the face and just call it a show? Isn't that what men have been doing for centuries?

1 comment:

Calgary said...

I think it's more useful to think of the effects of feminism on the art in the show, rather than to think of it, on the whole, as "feminist art." Not all of the artists in the show were making feminist statements, per se, but they were working under the influence and in the wake of the second wave; so a lot of the pieces have a feminist characteristic, or speak to feminism in retrospect, even if they weren't explicitly motivated by feminism. I think, from an art historical perspective, the title "art AND the feminist revolution" is an apt title, as the show considers the work in the context of the second wave. And whether you call it one or not, it's a feminist show because it aims to equalize the art world's very unequal gender dynamic, by privileging women's art.