Thursday, October 9, 2008

One, two, Barbara's coming for you...

Lately it seems, that the role of women in the arts has been in my ideological path. That is, I am participating in a show sponsored by the Women’s Center, and I have just finished reading two books by and about the female experience in the arts.

The first, Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a memoir by Lee Israel, a respected author turned literary forger, and the second: Hidden in the Shadow of the Master, the model/wives of Cezanne, Monet, and Rodin by Ruth Butler looks at (through letters, the paintings themselves, and other primary sources) the relationships between these men and involved in the creative process were the women, and what does that mean for the art...if anything at all; perhaps just biographical footnotes. And in concert with the Women's Center show, I will be moderating a panel, along with Allison Graff, about being a female artist in the 21st that distinction still even important and relevant?

So when I stumbled across the March 24, 2008 issue of New York Magazine, complete with Barbara Kruger’s image of Elliot Spitzer on the cover, it seemly both timely (in my personal timeline), and, another era heard from. I often find Kruger’s imagery funny, if a bit shrill–a kind of cross-hybridization of militant feminst tracts, radical judgements, and observational generalizations.

Thinking about Kruger got me thinking about the ‘role’ of women artists: is there an experience localized to women? Should there be special privileges granted because of assumed slights? Is the best answer simply just to make work, and let everything else work itself out, or, does one look to the wage gap (though this article has an interesting take on that idea), and presence of women in large museum and gallery shows (13 out of 33 artist over at Making Marks are women) to make sense of it all?

I am not feeling, or thinking in any sort of absolutist manner about this topic....I’m just kind of letting it roll around in my head. I may be forced to post more as my thoughts get clearer/murkier...

For more commentary on the Kruger cover, click here.