META exists at the crossroads of art and science and of culture and nature. Tracing the uncommon threads between common topics, META presents its readers with views into the abyss of visual information and with experiments in associative reading. META invites you to browse according to taste.
You may ask, â€œwhat?â€ An archive, a Wunderkammer, a magazine guided by methods of research, collection, preservation, reprint and the linking of topics at their META level.
You may then ask, â€œwhy?â€ To play with information in all its astatic glory. META refrains from attempts at categorization, taking a gamble on dynamic navigation! META eschews the linear in favor of surprise. Each visit starts with a random welcome and ends with an even more random exit.
TIMOTHY J. ATTANUCCI (1979) was born in Boston, Massachusetts and studies German literature at Princeton and the Humboldt University, Berlin. For META, he contributes his musings on the irony mark in No Irony.
DAVID BETH (1974) is a writer and esoteric explorer, and the sovereign Grand Master of the Ordo Templi Orientis Antiqua. Learn more about his Gnostic involvement in XI. ARS DE REXâ€”Sexual Magic, the Art of the King, where he is interviewed by Ailen Roc.
SUMMER BRENNER is an accomplished writer of poetry and fiction, based in Berkeley, California. Her writing has extended beyond the borders of print into performative and musical realms, and she is also involved with literacy and community projects targeted at youths. For META, she reads from her critically acclaimed novel and discusses her motivation for the project in Driving I-5.
OLAF BREUNING (1970) is a Swiss artist, living in New York and working in photography, video, sculpture, installation and drawing. For METAâ€™s mini interview series, he shares some of his favorite things in accompaniment to a selection of photographic works. See Mini Breuning.
Illustrations by William Buchina
WILLIAM BUCHINA (1978) is an illustrator with a penchant for portraits of political tyrants. In addition, he is a graphic designer and creator of illustrated guides to English grammar. Some of his work is viewable here. He currently lives and works in New York. See his work in The Body of the Event.
DAVE BUNNELL (1952) lives in the small gold-rush era town of Angels Camp, California. This professional spelunker and photographer worked on an Imax film about caves, somewhere beneath Mexico. META interviewed him for Far Beyond Stalactites and Stalagmites.
PETRA CORONATO is probably the only author in the world who didnâ€™t only read Alexanderplatz, but also swept it. She is the owner of tongue tongue Hong Kong, a company founded in 1993 with dependences in Berlin, Vienna and Zurich, which recycles fiction profitably and unpunished to this day. In 2006, she commenced the ongoing photography project The Poetry of Document.
Writer Jeffrey Croteau is the Manager of the Library and Archives at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library in Massachusetts. Read another of his articles on American Masonic groups, ''Brotherly Deception'' published in Cabinet Magazine here. For META he co-authors a discussion on ritual and fraternity for the article Daughters of Job.
MICHELE DANTINIâ€™s (1966) work is characterized by its handling of trans-cultural practices and their socio-environmental implications. A widely translated essayist and performative lecturer, he holds a position as Professor of Contemporary Art History at the UniversitÃ del Piemonte Orientale, Italy. See Chronicles of Deaths Foretold.
PAULINE DOUTRELUINGNE (1982) lived in Beijing for four years, where she co-organized the 2006 Borderline Moving Images Festival. She lives in Berlin and curates projects that bridge European and Asian art. For META, she interviewed Chen Wei in Archeology of the Future.
GEN DOY is Lecturer at De Montfort University. She is the author of Picturing The Self, Drapery and Black Visual Culture. For META, Doy discusses the sensual politics of photography in the works of Claude Cahun.
Ferrante Denise Palma
DENISE PALMA FERRANTE (1975) is a multi-disciplined artist living and working in Berlin. She is also a self-declared anti-religionist. See Timkat 2009.
ADAM FOXWELL is an American audio engineer who has worked internationally, consulting on acoustical room design, sound isolation and mechanical noise control. For META, he presents a study on noise exposure in On the Hunt for Silence in Dubai.
JACQUE FRESCO (1916) is an industrial designer and social engineer, author, lecturer, inventor and Futurist. Based in Venus, Florida, he is developing the practice of Socio-Cyber-Neering. Read the META interview Back to the Futureâ€”The Venus Project.
Dr. BRUNO GLASER is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Soil Science and Soil Geography at the University of Bayreuth. For over several years he has been conducting Amazonian dark earth research from a soil science perspective including soil fertility, sustainability, and archaeology aspects. See Terra Preta .
MARA GOLDWYN (1976) calls herself an artist but does not show anywhere and would never actually introduce herself as such. She has an existential allergy to genres, categories and identity constructs. See Showing the Opposite Side of the Death Machine.
LINDA MAI GREEN (1987) is a photographer and curator based in Berlin. She also co-runs curatorial collectiveÂ Una Tittel.Â For META article A Bridge and Not a Goal, she interviewed artist Serena Porrati.
Artist CAI GUO-QIANG (1957) was born in Chinaâ€™s Fujian Province. While living in Japan between 1986 and 1995 he began to experiment with gunpowder as a medium, gaining international attention. He has gone on to exhibit world wide and to produce large scale pyrotechnic art works. See On Explosions.
Sculptor PATRICK HILL (1972) has exhibited widely in the US and internationally as an important representative of the contemporary Los Angeles art scene. David Kordansky Gallery provided META with images of Hillâ€™s work for Patrick Hillâ€”Sculpture, Associated.
ASDF Makes founder DAVID HORVITZ (1983) is a man of many ideas. One could say this American artistâ€™s medium is the Internet, though it may be more accurate to say that he works in interactive projects. See ASDFâ€”Read On.
RUA MINX is Donna Huanca (1980), an artist who deals with clothing as shelter, transportable homes for nomads and cultural and genetic traces. Her various projects have received a range of support, from the Dallas Museum of Art to StÃ¤delschule, Frankfurt; from the Incehon Womenâ€™s Biennale Korea to British Vogue. She launched METAâ€™s downloadable artist piece series with Mask Maker.
Artist PIETER HUGO (1976) has spent his whole life in Cape Town, South Africa, though travelled extensively pursuing his characteristic brand of documentary photography. A 2002-3 residency at the Beneton Group Communication Research Center, Fabrica, also led to work with Colors magazine. In 2006 he was awarded first prize in the World Press Photo competitionâ€™s Portraits section. Welcome to Nollywood explores a recent project carried out with the Nigerian film industry.
Idnert B. Zlatan
ZLATAN B. IDNERT is an audio engineer who has worked in the fields of modelling for outdoor noise propagation, building acoustics and ground borne vibrations. He has widely consulted on acoustical engineering projects. See On the Hunt for Silence in Dubai.
JAN KEMPENAERS (1968) is an artist and documentary photographer based in Antwerp. He creates mute images of semi urban-places. Regardless of geographical context, his photographs speak powerfully to the post industrial condition and of the technologized human subject. See Spomenik, the Monuments of Former Yugoslavia.
TAO LIN (1983) is an American poet, novelist and short story writer. He is the author of Shoplifting from American Apparel, Eeeee Eee Eeee, and Bed, as well as two poetry collections, you are a little bit happier than I am, and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Linâ€™s second novel, Richard Yates, was published in September 2010.
See Tao Linâ€™s Crossword Puzzle.
TAMMY LU is a Canadian artist who makes drawings and artistsâ€™ books. She is the cover artist for the New Metaphysics philosophy series published by Open Humanities Press. See more of her work here. For META she did the drawings for METAphorism.
DAVID MAISELâ€™s (1961) photographs chronicle the complex relationships between natural systems and human intervention. His work is included in many permanent collections, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Maisel lives and works in the area of San Francisco. See Blooming Souls.
Alison Malone is a photographer and educator who uses both audio and visual documentation to explore subcultures that are overlooked and often misunderstood in American society. View additional work here. For META her photographic series of the same name inspired the article Daughters of Job.
SERGEY MAXIMISHIN (1964) photographed for the Soviet Military Force Group on Cuba from 1985 to 1987. A learned physicist, he worked in the scientific and technical expertise laboratory in the Hermitage Museum and has gone on to become an award winning press photographer.
See The Dostoevsky of Photography.
CONNIE MENDOZA (1971) is a media artist, working between Berlin and Barcelona. Fata Morgana and Other Optical Phenomena discusses her film, in which Mendoza travels back to her birthplace to trace the complex relationships of her childhood to Chilean history and space travel, thereby producing images that mediate the perception of time as a highly subjective matter.
Apostolos Mitsios (1979) is a Greek psychologist, working as a systemic psychotherapist by day and as a freelance writer, preferably, by night. A former contributing editor at online design magazine yatzer.com, he is currently collaborating with the Projective Fairy Tale Test Society in Greece as well as various magazines all over the world. For META article, Death of a Performance, he interviewed artist Esther Ferrer about her intervention at the Cemetery of Art of Morille, Spain.
RACHAEL MORRISON (1981) is an artist, curator, and a librarian at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She is the creator of an art work and a documentary film about the blind telephone hacker Joybubbles, as she describes in 718-362-9578.
TIMOTHY MORTON (1968) is a philosopher and ecologist, and a teaching professor at Rice University. He also is one of the leading figures in the philosophical movement of Speculative Realism. For META he penned some pithy aphorism on the paradigm shift in metaphysics. See METAphorism.
Architect WILLEM JAN NEUTELINGS (1959) has taught at the Berlage Institute in Rotterdam and Harvard University. His firm, Neutelings Riedijk Architects, is located in Rotterdam. He wrote Spomenik, the Monuments of Former Yugoslavia on Jan Kempenaerâ€™s photo-documentation.
Nikolaj Nielsen is a Brussels-based journalist. For META, Nielsen considers the provocative film "Enjoy Poverty Please" by Dutch artist Renzo Martens in regards to the The Lucrative Business of Chaos and Aid. For more of Nielsen's writing, visit his website.
Andreas Ã–nnerfors (1971) is Associate Professor in the History of Sciences and Ideas based in Lund, Sweden. He has written extensively on organized fraternal sociability in Europe in the context of civil society, cryptology and conspiracy theories. In 2007 he re-enacted a female masonic ritual, contributed to the deciphering project of the copiale-manuscript and commented on the Oslo terrorist Breivik's imaginary world of knighthood in counter-jihadism. Watch a 2012 lecture on "Perceptions of Freemasonry from the 18th century to the Internet" here. For META he co-authors a discussion on ritual and fraternity for the article Daughters of Job.
Yoshua OkÃ³n was born in Mexico City in 1970 where he currently lives. In his often absurd and provocative art, OkÃ³n stages partially scripted scenes using non-actors whose own identities and histories make up the true, underlying story. See Octopus. OkÃ³n founded the artist-run space La PanaderÃa in 1994 and the artist-run space and school SOMA in 2009, both in Mexico City.
LISE PATT is the founder of the Institute of Cultural Inquiry, a peripatetic visual think tank currently headquartered in Los Angeles, CA. Over the years she has treated â€˜collaborationâ€™ as an artist medium, in the development of a non-profit organization that embraces â€˜collective camouflageâ€™ in their ongoing projects. See Inquiry into the Institute of Cultural Inquiry.
KONRAD PETROVSZKY (1977) is a historian specializing in the intellectual history of Southeastern Europe. He wrote a PhD thesis on early modern historiography in Ottoman Europe at the Free University, Berlin. He talks Romania and reenactment in The Body of the Event.
Italian artist SERENA PORRATI (1981) is now currently enrolled in the inaugural year of the MA in Art and Science Program at Central St. Martins in London. She lets META in on her Nietzsche in Turin archive for Linda Greenâ€™s article, A Bridge and Not a Goal.
SUSANNE QUEHENBERGER is a Cultural Studies student at the Humboldt University in Berlin. Her focus is climate change, specifically its potential to bring about societal restructuring and the role of art in this scenario. Since 2007, she has worked as an urban gardening activist. For META, she shares her thoughts on geoengineering in Artificial Skies.
Haitian-born, DC-raised MAX RAMEAU is a pan-African theorist, organizer and founder of the group, Take Back the Land. He has worked on issues ranging from economic development to ex-felons. He discusses the US housing crisis in Desperate Times, Desperate Measures.
MILO RAU (1977) is a journalist, essayist, historian, playwright, translator, teacher, film-maker, blogger, reenactor and director of IIPM (International Institute of Political Murder, or Institute for Theoretic and Artistic Reenactments). See The Body of the Event.
AILEN ROC studied various esoteric fields such as ceremonial Magick, Sexual Magick, Tantra, Astrology, Tarot, the Quaballah and different astral-levels along with Psychology. She is currently working on her own tarot deck and a book combining certain occult fields with elements of psychology. See XI. ARS DE REXâ€”Sexual Magic, the Art of the King.
ALAN SHAPIRO (1956) is a key contributor to the fields of idea philosophy, software engineering and social choreography. At 15, he began studying at MIT and has more recently published a book on Star Trek and given talks at the Transmediale and Ars Electronica festivals. In an interview with META, he explains why â€œBeing against work as it is constituted today is fundamental.â€ See A New Computer Science is Underway.
SITU STUDIO was founded in 2005 while its partners were studying architecture at The Cooper Union. Operating at the intersection of architecture and a variety of other disciplines, Situ Studioâ€™s work has been enriched by close collaborations with geologists, writers, engineers, biologists, activists and artists. See Out of Control.
GARY SMALL, M.D., is the Director of the UCLA Memory and Aging Research Center at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. He is the author of iBrain Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind. See This is Your Brain on Technology.
COSETTE THOMPSON is a French-American human rights consultant and freelance writer based in Arizona, USA, where she directed Amnesty International for many years. Her current interests focus on the contribution of artistic expression to the field of human rights and on the protection of threatened languages. See Sentenced to Read.
van Haarlem Dr. Michiel P.
DR. MICHIEL VAN HAARLEM (1964) is the Managing Director of the LOFAR Foundation in the Netherlands, a part of the ASTRON Institute. The astronomer discusses the next generation of telescopes in METAâ€™s Harmony of the Spheres.
Vanden Eynde Maarten
Belgian-born MAARTEN VANDEN EYNDE (1977) lives and works between Rotterdam, Brussels and Saint Mihiel. His projects span all art media, focussing on topics of ecology, archeology, biology and zoology. In 2006 he founded Enough Room for Space for â€œthe creation of physical, virtual and mental space for cultural initiatives by initiating and coordinating events and residence/research projects worldwide.â€ He enlightens META on plastic in Plastic Reef.
Swedish photographer ULRIKA WALMARK (1970) traveled across North America, Israel, Palestine, Iran, India and South Africa from 2003 to 2007, collecting portraits for her project The person behind the person. She now lives in Berlin.
Artist CHEN WEI (1980) works in Beijing and Hangzhou, incorporating influential objects and happenings from his past into the realities of modern China. He is represented by the Platform China Contemporary Art Institute in Beijing. See Archeology of the Future.
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|This is Your Brain on Technology|
|Daughters of Job|
|Death of a Performance|
|Out of Control: Experiments in Participation|
|Terra Pretaâ€”Amazonian Earth|
|A New Computer Science is Underway|
|Claude Cahunâ€”A Sensual Politics of Photography|
|The Clothing of Nature|
|On the Hunt for Silence in Dubai|
|Far Beyond Stalactites and Stalagmites|
|The Body of the Event|
|Sentenced to Read|
|Spomenik, the Monuments of Former Yugoslavia|
|XI. ARS DE REXâ€”Sexual Magic, the Art of the King|
|Tao Linâ€™s Crossword Puzzle|
|The Art of Showing Art|
|Photography and the Invisible|
|Patrick Hillâ€”Sculpture, Associated|
|Showing the Opposite Side of the Death Machine|
|Desperate Times, Desperate Measures|
|A Bridge and Not a Goal|
|This is Your Brain on Technology|
|The Poetry of Document|
|Stories of Life and Love in Todayâ€™s Actual Arctic|
|Fata Morgana and Other Optical Phenomena|
|The Nine Lives of Kaufhaus Jonass|
|The Harmony of the Spheres|
|Back to the Futureâ€”The Venus Project|
|Inquiry into the Institute of Cultural Inquiry|
|The Lucrative Business of Chaos and Aid|
|Welcome to Nollywood|
|Chronicle of Deaths Foretold|
|The Dostoevsky of Photography|
|Archeology of the Future|
By Mara Goldwyn
Feminism in the arts has always been tricky. Is it a movement, a theory, a style? Whatever it is, a few things have remained consistent about feminism: the instability of its definition and the reductive perceptions it has had to suffer. There is the caricature version of the feminist artist, with the archetype of a Valerie Solanas-esque bra-burner intent on smashing the â€œpatriarchy.â€ Then, of course, there is the intriguing but alienating gender and queer studies theorist, confronting aesthetics from a rarefied perspective. Finally, there is the gender-bending â€œperformanceâ€ artist whose manipulation of surface is meant to comment on what is deeper below.
â€œWhich am I?â€, I think. Somehow engaging feminism always has to take the â€œIâ€ into consideration. But, uneasy with the thought that as a female living outside of established norms I am pre-cast as a feminist anyway, Iâ€™ve been shoving off identifying with feminism for as long as I can remember. Meanwhile, admittedly brief investigations of Post-Structuralist takes on what could constitute a feminist outlook have left me, so to speak, dry. The idea that gender is a construct little assuages the frustrating fact that historically so few of the artists behind work I admire are female.
The life and work of American artist Nancy Spero, however, has allowed me to consider engaging with feminism not as an identity or a theory, but as a tool. Spero herself did not resist the badge of feminism. She took sides, but she never proselytized. Her work was simply a â€œcelebration.â€ By addressing the female figure as subjectâ€”not notably as objectâ€”she proposed an alternative vantage point, a â€œfemale gaze.â€
Spero died recently at the age of 83, not long after the death of her life-long partner and sometime collaborator, Leon Golub. Working for over forty-five years briefly in Europe and then in New York, her career as a political artist coincided with the social turmoil of 1960s America, the conservative turns of the 80s, and the late 20th and 21st century entropy of globalization.
â€œHuman reality is a male reality,â€ she stated in an interview in 1985. â€œLooking at human reality as a female reality, looking at female experience as extraordinary as well as the routine, in all the aspects that men usually claim, I want to zero in and investigate our reality.â€
Without indulging my own biography too much, I also would like to zero in on my own reality, and explore what it is about Speroâ€™s legacy I find attractive, and ultimately, instructive. What could compel me to face art confidently acknowledging female difference, and maybe even as a feminist?
Letâ€™s start with her life. Although I should evacuate gender and biography from an exploration of Speroâ€™s oeuvre rather than reviewing this woman artist as, well, a woman artist, Iâ€™m afraid Speroâ€™s inspiring effect on me has a good deal to do with the fact that we are both women.
Spero began her career at the late age of 40 with two small children in tow, working in the shadow of her husband, already an acknowledged art celebrity. She created through arthritis from the age of 34 and made a decision to return to America in the mid-sixties when she realized that, despite a more receptive political environment in Europe, there was work to be done at home. Not to be left out, she was absolutely stunning, as much at 40 as at 80.
Perhaps what intrigues me most about her is that, as a woman, the obstacles she had to overcome to become worthwhile artistically were rather mundane: She was a married mother, over 40, who lived in one place for the majority of her life and looked feminine, and didnâ€™t need a radical, restless lifestyle or an elaborate twisting of gender roles to make a resonant statement as an artist. At the same time, she never felt the compulsion to exploit her own story to express a feminist viewpoint.
Both Spero and Golub were well aware they were ensconced in an art world that was accused of impotence in the face of real conflict and injustice. But they also understood art as a â€œtouchstone for ideas,â€ and dealt with concrete issuesâ€”notably the war in Vietnam, the torture of innocents in Pinochetâ€™s Chile and the de facto inequality for women worldwideâ€”with the intention of putting positions into motion.
For Spero, injustice was something to be angry about, and that anger was something that needed to be illustrated and explained, not just â€œexpressed.â€ By making a decision from the outset to produce artwork with content, Spero was confronting the visual language of male-dominated abstract expressionism. In her view, the abstract style said nothing of war or current events, and served even as a distraction, a cover-up.
What irritated Spero (along with a generation of female artists) was that male artists of the time were flinging their emotions onto large canvases and declaring the outcome universal. The response to this, in the case of many women artists, was to themselves employ a radical subjectivity.
In my view, though, this often fell into the trap of taking the Second Wave adage of â€œthe personal is politicalâ€ too literally. The 60s and especially 70s were rife with content gone awry as feminist artists attempted to find meaning by turning private stories public or by using their own body as subject. While I acknowledge it was important at the time to draw attention to the fact of female subjectivity after it had so long been disregarded, I could argue that this same sort of subjectivity served to narrow the audience and further marginalize female artists.
What I admire about Speroâ€™s approach was her ability to mobilize content in a way that reversed the â€œpersonal is politicalâ€ to great effect. For Nancy Spero, the political was personal. A deft interplay of subjectivity and objectivity gave her work a bite that the mere shock value of personal exposure could not approach. Speroâ€™s genius was to use woman as subject, but in both senses of the word: action was subjected upon her, but she also actively subjected the subject.
Art has a long history of treating the female as a static object to be looked upon, at times with admiration, at others with resentment, but always with distance. Spero nudged the woman, both behind the artwork and within it, to action. Her work rarely exited two dimensions, but a telltale aspect of that journey toward subjectivity, was movement. After 1974, she only used female subjects in her work, and these subjects became increasingly more recognizable, as she employed images that she called â€œperformersâ€ in her â€œrepertoire company.â€ This â€œcompany,â€ later corresponding to over 300 unique plates for printing, included goddesses and figures from ancient mythology such as Sheela-na-gig and Artemis, who would share the dance with images of women clipped from current media.
â€œWhat Iâ€™m trying to say, then, in a kind of lyrical, positive way, is that these women are empowered and that they are sexual.â€ Spero said in 1985. â€œThese women are protagonists and they are subjects. I am doing this in my language and it is not primarily for the male gaze.â€ Spero favored â€œdevaluedâ€ media that eschewed those self-important, â€œmachoâ€ techniques of oil painting on canvas. Form-wise, she was partial to painting, collaging and printing with zinc and polymer plates on rice paper or long, papyrus-like rolls.
The first epic set of works that illustrated her taking the political personally was the War Series, created over several years in the late sixties and early seventies. She created over 150 visually ascetic paintings on paper with simple but disarming depictions of the horrors of war, inspired by the anger she felt toward American involvement in Vietnam. Helicopters mixed in with symbols like eagles and flags, while fountains of menstrual blood buoyed images of dismembered bodies. The prone female form was attached to an actively gasping mouth and licking, serpent like tongues hovered over desperate paint scrabbles of devastation. Though never so literally put, the sense in these works was clear: war is a male phenomenon, and its execution is comparable to violence directly inflicted upon the female body.
The War Series preceded and then overlapped another set of works through the seventies that dealt with the legacy of outcast artist Antonin Artaud. Spero had become acquainted and identified with his story while living in Paris with Golub and their sons in the early sixties. The paintings and collages referred to as The Codex Artaud, 1971-72, revolved around the role of the artist in society, and the realization that the individual could not combat those forces that were larger than herself.â€ These were her first works to use text, and her combination of Artaudâ€™s words with her hermaphroditic figures created a unique form of hieroglyphics that stretched the confines of language into something more akin to a visual speech-act.
This interplay of word and image on paper, which she would call â€œmanuscriptsâ€ would continue to mark her work throughout the seventies. Text printed on paper gave the sense of a broadsheet newspaper or a typed manifesto, spreading the word, while the figures and their easy iconic grace were reminiscent of cave paintings. After the noteworthy series Torture of Women (1976) and Torture in Chile (1974) which had long paper rolls printed in this way circling the gallery, she abandoned text in her work. But the idea of complementing the iconography of current politics with mythology persisted. Spero attempted to somehow mash history by creatingâ€”what she calledâ€”a â€œsimultaneity of women throughout time.â€
From the 80s on, color entered her work, brilliantly. Pieces like Sky Goddess (1981) and Earth and Water (1988) took full advantage of her cast of characters, â€œa varied cavalcade of historical female role modelsâ€ with figures as disparate as an ancient Greek â€œdildo dancerâ€ interacting with a Vietnamese woman that recalled TV images of civilians on the ground in the Vietnam war. The figures were â€œsuperimposed,â€ she said in a statement in 1989, â€œto increase the tempo of actions of women in narrative/history.â€
A character that never really made an appearance, though, was Spero herself. She infused the work by, in a sense, being the â€œdirectorâ€ of her two-dimensional work of theater, but she kept herself out of the story. This fact maybe alienated her from other women artists in addition to art historyâ€™s menâ€™s club. â€œFeministâ€ artist Kiki Smith once said in an interview, â€œWhen I first saw Nancy Speroâ€™s work, I thought, â€˜You are going to get killed making things like that; itâ€™s too vulnerable. Youâ€™ll just be dismissed immediately.â€™â€
Spero was dismissed for a long time, but her work gained acknowledgment late in her career when viewers were more prepared to recognize the strength of her approach. Even though she bypassed popular ideas of what feminism was supposed to be, she is now remembered rightly as a feminist artist, and one I admire as such. Spero redefined the womanâ€™s personal to become something universally personal, humanly personal. She, in effect, showed an alternate world inside her work and out, something I can only hope to aspire to as a (woman) artist myself.
â€œWhat Iâ€™m talking about in my work is jouissance.â€ Spero said, speaking to the universality of her work. â€œItâ€™s about the joy and full appreciation of oneâ€™s own body. I try to recapture the sense of oneâ€™s own body, and the control over it.â€
When grilled by feminist interviewers who claimed in her generalized displays of the female figure that she was perhaps propagandizing and oversimplifying situations, she responded â€œIâ€™m just trying to show the opposite side of the death machine.â€
SITU STUDIO is a reserach, design and fabrication firm based in Brooklyn. Their space-altering, site-specific architectural installation reOrder augurated the Great Hall project in the Brooklyn Museum. For reOrder and other projects, see Situâ€™s website.
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