WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Martha Rosler, Nature Girls (Jumping Janes), from the series Body Beautiful or Body Knows No Pain, 1966-72, photomontage, variable size, courtesy of the artist
The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) presents the first international survey of a remarkable body of work that emerged from the dynamic relationship between art and feminism in and around the 1970s. WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution—on view at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA March 4-
In the late 1960s through the ‘70s—a period marked by the resurgence of feminism—a fundamental shift in women’s perceptions of their own social roles began to have an impact on contemporary art practices. As reflected in the exhibition’s title, WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution focuses on the intersection of art and feminism during this era and recaptures the idealism of the feminist movement. “WACK” is not an acronym in itself, but was chosen by curator Connie Butler to recall the acronyms of many activist groups and political communities from this time whose activities focused on women’s issues and cultural production.
While the term “feminism” can be broadly defined, scholar and author
In the past few decades, a canonical list of American artists have become identified with the feminist movement. The exhibition dismantles this canon through the inclusion of women of other geographies, formal approaches, socio-political alliances, and critical and theoretical concerns. The artists in WACK! do not necessarily all identify themselves or their work as feminist. Nonetheless, as artist
Influential proto-feminist work produced by artists in the years immediately prior to the florescence of the ‘70s is also featured, including work by important figures who were active through that crucial decade and beyond, but whose contributions in the mid-‘60s anticipated new feminist aesthetics that took hold during the ‘70s. The scope of the exhibition also allows for the inclusion of the early work by such artists as Cindy Sherman and Lorraine O’Grady, representing a division between essentialist work of the ‘70s—which hypothesized a universal way to portray female experience—and a more theory-driven approach adopted during the ‘80s—which accounted for concepts like race, class, and sexual orientation.
Rather than following a chronological sequence, WACK!’’s thematic organization encourages a dialogue between individual works from a wide range of media—including painting, sculpture, photography, film, video, and performance art. The themes are: Abstraction, Autophotography, Body as Medium, Body Trauma, Collective Impulse, Family Stories, Female Sensibility, Gendered Space, Gender Performance, Goddess, Knowledge as Power, Labor, Making Art History, Pattern and Assemblage, Silence and Noise, Social Sculpture, Speaking in Public, and Taped and Measured.
WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue. Each artist in the exhibition is represented by a short biographical text, and a selected bibliography. An extensive chronology offers an essential overview of the period. In addition to a significant curatorial essay by
MOCA will host a variety of related programs in conjunction with the exhibition, including an in-depth lecture series, round-table discussions, workshops, an extensive film series, and an independent website. Taken as a whole, the components of this project will initiate new dialogue about feminist art and will provide a forum for scholarly reconsideration of one of the most influential movements in American art of the postwar period.
WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution is organized by The Museum of Contemporary Art,
WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution is made possible by the Annenberg Foundation. Additional support is provided by Geraldine and Harold Alden; The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; the National Endowment for the Arts; The Peter Norton Family Foundation; Audrey M. Irmas; The Jamie and Steve Tisch Foundation; The MOCA Contemporaries; Vivian and Hans Buehler; the Barbara Lee Family Foundation Donor Advised Fund at the Boston Foundation; Étant donnés: The French-American Fund for Contemporary Art; The Broad Art Foundation; the Hugh M. Hefner Foundation; Peg Yorkin; Merrill Lynch; the Fifth Floor Foundation; and The Cowles Charitable Trust. Major support is also provided by Susan Bay Nimoy and Leonard Nimoy with the members of the WACK! Women’s Consortium: Contemporary Collectors–Orange County; Mandy and Clifford J. Einstein; Lois G. Rosen; Carol and David Appel; Drs. Arie & Rebecka Belldegrun; Pamela and Roger Birnbaum; Fabrizio and Lorraine Bonanni; Blake Byrne; Christie’s, Inc.; Leslie and John Dorman; Gil Friesen and Janet Reinstra; Agnes Gund and