I hadn’t intended on revisiting yesterday’s post on Finch’s coverage of Bearings: The Female Figure, because I have about five hundred deadlines looming in addition to a lingering cold, but recent blogosphere discussion has prompted this short response.
Blogger/artist Edna V. Harris made two points in her discussion of the PS122 show and other women artist group shows that should have merited further consideration. The first is the argument that group shows of women artists tend to suffer from “lame” concepts like “the body”. Given that figuration has been relevant to painting for hundreds of years, I can only see this as a misuse of the term lame. Using contemporary examples, we need only utter the names of artists Inka Essenhigh, Jenny Saville, Cecily Brown, and Lisa Yuskavage in the same breath, to know that a group show about the body including only these women artists would never have this word attached to it, doubtfully even by Harris.
The second point has to do with what this artist deems as moronic titling, and the loss of integrity of those women artists who chose to participate. From my point of view this is a rather severe position to be taking. Certainly, PS1’s “Bed of Sound” was no titling masterpiece, but artist Thurston Moore, has neither lost integrity/weathered fall out from participating in a show with a dorky title and gimicky concept, nor was it any indication of the quality of the show. It is for this reason that I urge Harris to see the show herself and read the accompanying essay provided in the catalogue which uses 70s feminist thought as the framework for this show, (as did the curator). I would genuinely look forward to reading about this bloggers thoughts on the exhibition itself since I think we all can agree that there is more to a show than it’s title.