Amelia Jones

  • the Year in “Re-”

    A reckoning is in order. Given the extraordinary number of returns, revisits, and repetitions of all kinds this past year, including the extensive refabrications of postwar art at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s exhibition “Gutai: Splendid Playground” and the astonishing reboot in Venice of Harald Szeemann’s 1969 show “Live in Your Head: When Attitudes Become Form”—not to mention the steadily increasing interest in repeating historic works of performance art over the last decade—we offer here a provisional taxonomy of contemporary art-world keywords dangling from the prefix re. The

  • FEMINISM & ART: NINE VIEWS

    HOW MIGHT WE ASSESS FEMINISM’S INITIAL IMPACTS ON ART, ITS SUBSEQUENT HISTORICIZATION, AND ITS CONTINUING INFLUENCE? ARTFORUM ASKED LINDA NOCHLIN, ANDREA FRASER, AMELIA JONES, DAN CAMERON, COLLIER SCHORR, JAN AVGIKOS, CATHERINE DE ZEGHER, ADRIAN PIPER, AND PEGGY PHELAN TO CONSIDER THIS QUESTION IN AN ONLINE ROUNDTABLE ASSEMBLED IN AUGUST. THEIR RESPONSES—REFINED BY THE PARTICIPANTS AND PRESENTED IN THE FOLLOWING PAGES—SUGGEST THAT FEMINISM AND FEMINIST DISCOURSES AS THEY HAVE FOUND EXPRESSION IN CONTEMPORARY ART ARE AMBIVALENT (“IN THE FULLEST SENSE OF THAT TERM,” AS PHELAN PUTS IT), MULTIFACETED, AND EVER EVOLVING.

    LINDA NOCHLIN

    As a participant in the women’s art movement of the late ’60s and early ’70s, I have decidedly mixed feelings about the historicization of feminism. It is difficult to see lived experience transformed into historical text. Things that seemed open and dynamic are now pinned down and displayed like butterflies in a case. Of course, there is also the tendency to idealize the past, to see the women’s art movement as totally united. This was not the case: Although all of us were for justice, equity, and a fair shake for women artists, critics, and academics, our views were extremely

  • Streb/Ringside

    The events that comprised “Action Occupation,” a series of performances by Elizabeth Streb’s decade-old group Streb/Ringside, were a cross between acrobatics and modern dance, fighting and flying, football and ballet. Bodies plummeted through space, slammed against walls, dangled precariously from harnesses, battered each other, or lay inert, waiting to be crushed. At their best, the “Action Occupation” events were exhilaratingly energetic; at their worst, they resembled an amateur game of rugby, in which chaotically hurtling bodies threatened to reduce each other to heaps of motionless flesh.

  • Margaret Nielsen

    This retrospective of Margaret Nielsen’s work provided an overview of the myriad tactics and formats she has deployed to interrogate the tradition of American landscape painting, a genre little explored in hip artistic circles these days. Grappling with the legacy of 19th-century “masters” from spiritualists Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Cole to the mystic Albert Pinkham Ryder, Nielsen lifts the sublime veil of Romanticism to reveal the imperialist, masculinist mentality of conquest that destroyed the landscape so lovingly idealized.

    A series of Nielsen’s drawings from the ’70s address the

  • Tom Knechtel

    Composed with an ardor that masquerades as cool dispassion, Tom Knechtel’s new multipaneled paintings are luxuriant, operatic scenarios of love and yearning. Along with the large pastel and conté “portraits” of animals shown here, these paintings portray a phantasmagoric netherworld that at first appears cacophonous but is ultimately compositionally as well as emotionally resolved; these tales of gay eroticism are driven in equal parts by reason and desire.

    Although the two large paintings—Servant of Two Masters 1993–94, and The Flood, 1993–94—are not composed with the grand rhetorical gestures

  • Erika Suderburg

    The general persuasiveness of post-Modern critiques of Modernism have tended to blind us to the complexities and philosophical richness of Enlightenment thought. Opening up a productive dialogue with Denis Diderot, author of the highly influential 18th-century Encyclopédie; ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, Erika Suderburg’s complex curatorial/art project returns us respectfully—if with humor and a critical eye—to the exhaustive archival logic of the Enlightenment.

    The project, an ongoing compendium of boxes that negotiate the obsessive categories of the Encyclopédie

  • Julius Shulman

    In the crystalline Modernist fantasy that is Julius Shulman’s Los Angeles, all is gleaming right angles or burnished curves. Presenting an architectural portrait of rigorous purity and refined order, with form obediently following function, Shulman’s photographs of commercial buildings and houses from the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s are high-Modernist foils to Jean Baudrillard’s phantasmagoric vision of Los Angeles. In Shulman’s Los Angeles, the limpid, bright atmosphere reveals serene domestic spaces and chimerical vistas of an untroubled urban expanse.

    Shulman, who has been taking photographs

  • Carole Caroompas

    Carole Caroompas paints with a vengeance, producing enormous seminarrative canvases with a cheeky disregard for what artists—especially feminist artists—are “supposed” to be doing in the ’90s. Not a single piece of fur, not a single body part, no installation objects, nothing but acrylic paint on rectangular pieces of canvas, yet these large-format paintings are anything but conventional.

    Since her emergence within the feminist art community in Los Angeles in the ’70s, Caroompas has developed an individual yet recognizably Angeleno style: with minimal brushstroke texture she renders repetitive

  • Judie Bamber

    Meticulously rendered in a hyperrealist mode, each of Judie Bamber’s miniscule paintings depict, in the most explicit way possible, what should not be a subject for high art: the female sex. While the academic nude functions fetishistically, displacing masculine anxiety over the fullness (not the “lack”) of female genitalia, Bamber’s is the ultimate feminist gesture, representing as art what is normally relegated to the realm of pornography.

    Building on the interest in relating female experience through “central core” imagery, which characterized one strand of feminist art theory in the ’70s,

  • Taro Chiezo, Michael Cohen, Louanne Greenwald, Charles LaBelle and Maria Lafia

    Though quite a few commercial Los Angeles galleries have been forced to close their doors in the last few years, a growing number of innovative alternative spaces have sprung up in their place, such as Bill Radawec’s domestic setting, a “gallery” that is located in private homes sprinkled around West Los Angeles.

    This spring, Radawec arranged challenging and quirky works by an array of young artists in three separate “domestic settings.” The living and dining room of one home served as the site for a show of works (all 1993-94) by Charles LaBelle (including photographs documenting his blindfolded

  • Rachel Rosenthal

    Living in fin-de-millénium California, I, like Rachel Rosenthal, have felt threatened by the seemingly random, vicious violence of contemporary life and have found myself obsessing about chaos, death, and human evil. A substantial orator and actress who moves like a dancer or a queen, Rosenthal—who plays the last Russian Czarina, Alexandra—intones throughout the chiliastic spectacle Zone, 1994, about the evils of human voracity and cruelty, epitomized by the Romanov family (“assholes in brocade” as Rosenthal puts it in her typical blunt fashion). At the same time, her nihilism is tempered by an

  • Renée Petropoulos

    Renée Petropoulos revives the large-scale circular format of the tondo, so prevalent in the Renaissance, covering it with richly evocative shapes and symbols and adapting it to accommodate her fin-de-20th-century theoretical concerns. Most strikingly, she hollows out her large tondos (almost 50 inches in diameter), in such a way that their painterly surfaces—encrusted with webs of floral and animal forms, ribbons, heraldic motifs, and, in some cases, vague remnants of text—become chunky frames circumscribing central voids. Where the Madonna and Child should be lies the vacuous gallery wall, and

  • “Action/Performance And The Photograph”

    From the late ’50s to the present, performance-oriented body art has radically displayed and enacted the artist in/as the work itself. This excellent exhibition, organized by Craig Krull, explored the photographic documents that memorialize these performative acts. The hundred or so images ranged from the modest (Vito Acconci’s tiny vintage prints of himself rubbing his body against a sooty wall), to the pretentious (Hermann Nitsch’s gory color photographs of naked men covered with animal blood and hoisted up on crucifixes), to the understated sublime (Carolee Schneemann’s elegant grid of uncanny,

  • Anna-Maria Sircello

    Displayed at one of Los Angeles’ newest and funkiest gallery spaces, Anna-Maria Sircello’s small, weirdly anthropomorphic objects are irresistibly erotic. Sircello’s corporealized forms (sometimes human, sometimes animal or insectlike) elicit the interpretive responses appropriate to a chaotic ’90s cultural imaginary. Constructed of hair, panty hose, hair nets, and embroidery hoops, these phallic and/or vaginal “bodies” use the tools of feminine beauty and feminized handicrafts to tell a story that ultimately rubs the sexual against the supposedly deeroticized femininity of the domestic. The

  • José Quintana

    In its presentation of diverse male subjectivities, José Quintana’ series of photographs is conceptually as well as visually seductive for the viewer usually starved of male objects of desire. Photographed in color and with the calculated spontaneity of photojournalism, the images are positioned as artsy yet “anthropological” studies of American manhood. While hung with a sometimes heavy-handed didacticism in thematic groups, the work thwarted the potentially clichéd effects of this arrangement with the humor and empathetic impulse underlying these far-from-simply-celebratory images. White men,

  • Adam Fuss

    Using the direct printing method of the photogram, Adam Fuss has produced a body of visually exquisite and theoretically inquisitive images. In the ’20s, Man Ray and László Moholy-Nagy viewed the photogram as a means of subverting the mechanicity of photography because it provided a means of creating a photograph without the technological eye of the camera: Fuss exploits it more for its capacity to estheticize, to transform objects and substances into ghostly and ephemeral silhouettes of the “real.”

    At first glance, it is the tightly orchestrated formal elegance of these photograms rather than

  • Daniel Wheeler

    Characterized less by the sterile estheticism of sculpture than by the exuberantly inviting playfulness of a children’s jungle gym, Daniel Wheeler’s interactive, almost architectural pieces politicize spatial relations, engaging the visitor with their tightly conceived, beautifully crafted forms. Drawing on Minimalism’s dogmatic monumentality, Wheeler eschews its macho “thereness,” extending its project in order to engage, even seduce, the spectator: his installations have a corporeal quality and present open-ended narratives that can only be completed by the gallery-goer.

    Upon entering this show

  • Laura Howe

    Laura Howe works to take women out of the footnotes of Western history and insert them into its normally exclusionary texts. Isolating photographs of vaguely remembered female faces and deteriorating the images through excessive photocopying, Howe stacks and overlaps these indexes within steel contraptions that resemble a cross between designer office furniture and post-Minimalist sculpture.

    Chronocology, 1992, the most elaborate piece in this compact but powerful exhibition of works, questions the linear narratives of Western history (“chronology”) through the interrogatory image of the specifically

  • Richard Long

    Known for his melancholy treks across barren and remote landscapes, “earthworks” memorialized in stunning black and white photographs, Richard Long brings only traces of his wanderings to this exhibition, consisting primarily of mud “paintings” on paper. These images do not so much represent external ideas about nature as symbolize some higher transcendental truth.

    Long literally domesticates and estheticizes nature. In fact, the only piece not decorously contained as a work on paper is the scatological Mississippi Mud Line (all works 1992)—swirls of mud smeared like adult finger-paints in

  • Zizi Raymond

    Zizi Raymond’s newest collection of “sculptural” works orchestrates a chorus of female voices chanting their disenfranchisement. Together, Raymond’s “sculptures”—typified by a pair of girl’s undies, the crotch shot through with a menacing cluster of pins—proclaim the negativity or absence of the feminine. The female body, which can’t “exist” except as an object of exchange, is rendered metonymically through female clothing: a deep-green taffeta evening dress, a virginal little girl’s dress with white ruffles and pin-dots, a satin wedding gown, a Girl Scout uniform, a slip. So whimsically begun,