Strategically positioned just inside the door of the show we are immediately introduced to Christa Bell, the artist prophet who steadily recites words and euphemisms for “vagina.” She is a holy woman surrounded by beads and flowers but many of the terms are vulgar (Hair Pie, Hatchet Wound, Furry Taco), yet the neutrality in which they are spoken are embraced and non-judgmental.
The walls of the room are black, and artists’ works are mostly wall pieces hung tightly in salon style. It may be more “Femsploitation” than Feminist (I overheard this) given the climate of an opportunist media savvy art world. The work encapsulates themes of body—the political, the sensual, the intellectual, the domestic, the family, the self. I am Every Woman! is an apt subtitle for this show.
Photographs by Orrie King and Desiree Leary stood out. A self-portrait by King is veiled in mist and mystery. Two other of King’s photos of girls in a Brooklyn backyard, one in a mismatched bikini, and another we only see the top of her head. The photograph captures a random moment, much like a film still with sculptural light. Leary offers up large format ciba-chrome of what seems to be a souvenir and travel-needs stand in Venice but is obscured by the strength of composition and color, and we see it less as a place, and more as composition.
Sculptures by Kathleen Vance (created in a steamer trunk and in a vintage carry on vanity case) contain miniature landscapes made of moss with mud banks and rocks, and miniature bubbling streams. They evoke fantasy worlds, wanderlust and travel to magical places that do not exist.
The legendary Annie Sprinkle installed a stack of old televisions, their outdated bulkiness made for a welcome retro physicality. Standing about 10 feet tall these 6 monitors showed various scenes from weddings from all cultures around the world. Raw and fun to watch.
An installation I found odd but inspiring was by Anna Rosen. Employing ready-made plastic scars/swollen eyes prostheses she applied them onto the windowed wall, and just kind of stuck them around. They were hard to recognize without the human body behind them, and I misinterpreted a few as cast from genitalia. Rosen herself was an art installation by attaching one of these gross skin conditions onto her neck and wore it for the duration of the opening. Entitled “Mature Work” these fragments conjure up ideas of architecture as body, and the body as architecture, identity modification, and even Hollywood.
With a large show like this, with usually one work per artist, only open for one day with a massive turnout, much gets lost, yet still artwork does get seen. The inclusiveness and spirit of these types of shows (often invitation to participate is spread by word of mouth) are critical. Is there an art star in this bunch? Probably. And it will be curious to see in the years to come which of these young artist ends up in a big-gun Whitney Biennial, across the river.