Wack at P.S.1 and Body Beautiful

I made it to WACK: Art and the Feminist Revolution – a massive traveling exhibition that is amazingly the “first comprehensive historical survey of feminist activism and art-making” from the late 1960s through the 1970s – on the last day of the show. It was good, if awkward and painful, to see work by the likes of Carolee Schneeman and Yoko Ono which inspired me in my early 20′s. My highlights are three works which seem, in 2008, less dated.

ana mendieta

Ana Mendieta’s People Looking at Blood Moffitt (1973), is a set of documentary slides featuring people’s curious glances at blood stains on a sidewalk. This public intervention is fascinating and more subtly provocative than Mendieta’s earth-body art. Strange, however, is the installation at P.S.1 in which slides are viewable on a light table, rather than projected.

Marta Minujin and Richard Squires’ Soft Gallery from 1973 but recreated for this exhibition is a stunning and functional piece, and was full of lounging gallery goers when I arrived.

beauty knows no pain

Martha Rosler’s series of collages, Body Beautiful, or Beauty Knows no Pain from 1966-1972 are funny and disturbing, a notable accomplishment. Her Bringing the War Home series are equally good (she’s recently updated the series using contemporary wartime imagery). Pictured above, Cargo Cult. Unfortunately this looks less dated because, after all, the beauty industry still has a healthy stranglehold on our wallets and collective consciousness.


Speaking of which, on my favourite new radio program, Q, I listened to an interview with Michael Salzhauer, plastic surgeon and author of My Beautiful Mommy. If you’re wondering why post-surgery mommy looks like a Disney femme-bot, the book designer worked for Disney. In the book, written so young children, particularly girls, may “understand” why mommy needs to beautify herself under the knife (I doubt it explains that culturally loaded question), mommy only gets a new nose, breasts, and tummy. She doesn’t get the butterfly wings pictured on the website. They might befit the spotlight sprinkling of pain-free Tinkerbell dust.

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