Widely acclaimed on its United States tour, the exhibition organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles is the first comprehensive, international museum survey illuminating the profound impact of feminism on art.
The exhibition, which makes its Canadian premiere at the Vancouver Art Gallery, brings together the work of more than 120 artists from 21 countries, including the addition of Canadian works selected by Vancouver Art Gallery chief curator/associate director Daina Augaitis and assistant curator Kathleen Ritter.
“We are extremely proud to be the only Canadian institution to present this powerful exhibition that provides a global perspective on a vital and groundbreaking time in art history,” said Vancouver Art Gallery director Kathleen Bartels. “The women around the world featured in WACK! changed art forever. Not only did they push the boundaries of what was expected from women in the visual arts, but they expanded definitions of how we see and view art today.”
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, feminist ideals had a profound effect on artistic practice, challenging commonly held assumptions and radically transforming art and its methodologies. WACK! presents the most influential practitioners of feminist art from this dynamic period, as well as important figures from around the world who employed a wide range of media, approaches, socio-political perspectives and theoretical positions to address the status of women. Seen together in this wide-ranging survey, the exhibition illuminates a time of intense activity when feminism converged with art to create one of the most influential global art movements of the postwar era.
“The innovations these artists developed played a major role in significantly altering how people perceive art as a means to affect change,” said Daina Augaitis, chief curator/associate director. “They revealed contemporary art’s potential as a tool of political activism and profoundly influenced and empowered artists from many backgrounds.”
The themes that comprise WACK!’s structure provide a sense of the movement’s history and reflect how women artists organized to maximize the impact of their work. Including the sections Goddess, Body Trauma, Autophotography, Body as Medium and Taped and Measured, the exhibition is divided into 18 thematic areas based on genre, representation, formal concerns, collective aesthetic and political impulses. 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.
Much of the artists’ imagery can be considered explicitly feminist, placing focus on the body and express themselves conceptually to explore such things as family histories and narratives of subjugation, and still others work with abstraction to obliquely explore ideas of gender.
The broad range of works and approaches brought together in WACK! highlight the strong sense of community that linked feminists and artists, and illuminate the diversity and non-hierarchical nature of the movement. International in scope, the exhibition features artists from Canada, United States, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia and Australia. Included are such groundbreaking artists as Marina Abramovic, Chantal Akerman, Eleanor Antin, Judith Baca, Louise Bourgeois, Judy Chicago, Lygia Clark, Kate Craig, Gathie Falk, Suzy Lake, Liz Magor, Ana Mendieta, Yoko Ono, Ulrike Ottinger, Adrian Piper, Yvonne Rainer, Martha Rosler, Miriam Schapiro, Carolee Schneemann, Katharina Sieverding, Nancy Spero, Lisa Steele, Joyce Weiland and Hannah Wilke, among many others.
WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution is curated by Connie Butler, the Robert Lehman Foundation chief curator of drawings at The Museum of Modern Art, New York (MoMA), and organized by The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. The presentation at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles was made possible by The Annenberg Foundation.
Additional generous 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; Wells Fargo Foundation; The Broad Art Foundation; Vivian and Hans Buehler; the Barbara Lee Family Foundation Donor Advised Fund at the Boston Foundation; Etant donnes: The French-American Fund for Contemporary Art; the Robert Lehman Foundation; Institut fur Auslandsbeziehungen e. V., Stuttgart; the Pasadena Art Alliance; Frances Dittmer Family Foundation; the Hugh M. Hefner Foundation; Peg Yorkin; Merrill Lynch; the Fifth Floor Foundation; The Cowles Charitable Trust; Rosette V. Delug; The Herringer Family Foundation; and the Polish Cultural Institute. Major support is also provided by Susan Bay Nimoy and Leonard Nimoy with the members of the WACK! Women’s Consortium. -- www.vanartgallery.bc.ca