Cassie Packard

  • Leonor Fini and Geneviève Sevin-Doering, Le Printemps (The Spring), ca. 1975, tie-dyed silk gown, pleated and tie-dyed satin headdress, dimensions variable.

    Leonor Fini

    As a child, Leonor Fini (1907–1996) was spirited away from Buenos Aires to Trieste, Italy, to escape a domineering father. To thwart his repeated kidnapping attempts, she dressed as a boy; her gender-bending costumes offered her a way to slip out from under a patriarchal thumb. After studying local cadavers as a teenager—the experience may have ignited her aesthetic predilection for the macabre—Fini relocated to Paris and fell in with the Surrealists. Though André Breton’s lamentable misogyny deterred her from identifying with the group, she participated in such landmark shows as the “International

  • JEB (Joan E. Biren), Abortion Zap, 1981.
    slant March 06, 2023

    Eye to Eye

    “HERE COME THE DYKES! Here come the dykes!” A few seasoned attendees began the chant, as if to hasten the proceedings, celebrate our gathering in public space, and denote a protest action in one breath. They were swiftly joined by the rest of the intergenerational mix. This boisterous full house had gathered at New York City’s LGBT Community Center last month to see Joan E. Biren’s (“JEB”’s) sapphic slide lecture The Dyke Show, an alternative history of photography devoted to lesbian photographers and subjects, made in 1979, the heyday of feminist lesbian separatism. Officially hosted by the

  • Elsa Gramcko

    In 1956, Elsa Gramcko (1925–1994) was invited to participate in a group exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH). The show’s curator, José Gómez-Sicre, was so taken with the young Venezuelan’s paintings that he organized her first solo presentation at the Pan American Union in Washington, DC, three years later. This was swiftly followed by multiple solo outings at the Museo de Bellas Artes de Caracas, inclusion in the 1964 Venice Biennale, and receipt of Venezuela’s National Art Prize in Sculpture in 1968. However, Gramcko retreated from the art world in the late 1970s, thus becoming

  • Nour Mobarak, Reproductive Logistics, 2020, Trametes versicolor, apple-wood pellets, kraft paper, watercolor, hair, sperm, acrylic, resin, 651⁄2 × 75 × 12 1⁄2". From “Symbionts: Contemporary Artists and the Biosphere.”

    “Symbionts: Contemporary Artists and the Biosphere”

    Life arises from difference. That’s what biologist Lynn Margulis (1938–2011) averred when she proposed that endosymbiosis—the nesting of one unlike organism inside another—allowed for the evolution of multicellular entities on earth, and that various symbiotic unions remain integral to the flourishing of existence. Now accepted as scientific fact, Margulis’s assertions suggest that we have been moving mosaics of interspecies communion from the very beginning. This paradigm elicits a reconsideration of the boundaries and possibilities of being “human,” an intellectual project that might serve as

  • Morris Hirshfield, Girl with Pigeons, 1942, oil on canvas, 30 × 40 1⁄8".

    Morris Hirshfield

    At age eighteen, Morris Hirshfield (1872–1946) left Poland for New York and joined a wave of Eastern European Jewish émigrés in the city’s garment industry: first as a pattern cutter maximizing the number of designs that could be extracted from a single piece of cloth, then as a tailor and partner in a women’s suiting shop, and finally as a manufacturer of orthopedic devices and embellished boudoir slippers, for which he garnered twenty-four patents. After retiring in 1937, he took up painting, electing to work directly on top of two pieces of art that he already owned. Angora Cat and Beach Girl

  • View of “Henrike Naumann: Re-Education,” 2022–23, SculptureCenter, New York. Photo: Charles Benton.
    interviews November 22, 2022

    Henrike Naumann

    Growing up in a newly reunified Germany, Henrike Naumann witnessed widespread transformations in visual culture, from popular television programming to the seating from which that programming was consumed. Working with furniture and video, the Zwickau-born, Berlin-based artist considers how seemingly innocuous aesthetic sensibilities align with and promulgate a host of political ideologies. Her first US solo exhibition, “Re-Education,” on view from September 22 to February 27 at SculptureCenter in New York, parses parallels between reactionary movements in the United States and Germany as it

  • Jessi Reaves, Cubbard with Barrel Doors, 2022, wood, metal, Plexiglas, paint, cedar, vinyl, sawdust, wood glue, 71 × 24 × 24".

    Jessi Reaves

    Enlarging upon the commodity fetish in Das Kapital (1867), Karl Marx characterized a simple wooden table as an animate monstrosity. “So soon as it steps forth as a commodity, it is changed into something transcendent,” he wrote. “It not only stands with its feet on the ground . . . it stands on its head, and evolves out of its wooden brain grotesque ideas, far more wonderful than ‘table-turning’ ever was.” For Marx, who likely had the then-recent innovation of mass-producible bentwood furniture on his mind, the “table-turning”—a form of séance popularized during the nineteenth century—that

  • Gerda Wegener, Venus and Amor, ca. 1920, oil on canvas, 31 3⁄4 × 45 3⁄4".

    Gerda Wegener

    An aura of sapphic resplendence inspirited a soigné Tudor Revival mansion on Long Island’s Gold Coast on the occasion of “Fashioning Desire,” the first substantial presentation of art by Gerda Wegener (1886–1940) in the United States. The show featured upward of sixty paintings, drawings, advertisements, and illustrations, the lion’s share of which limned lissome women. The works were installed throughout the residence, displayed in grand hallways and sumptuous boudoirs, or placed so that they coyly peeked out of stately powder rooms. Spanning Wegener’s career, these sybaritic images—in which

  • Karla Knight, Red Road Trip 1, 2021, Flashe paint, acrylic marker, pencil, and embroidery on cotton, 56 1/2 × 77 1/2".
    interviews June 21, 2022

    Karla Knight

    Over the past four decades, artist-conlanger Karla Knight has doggedly worked in an extraterrestrial idiom, cultivating an otherworldly iconography and an invented language so potent she dreams in it. Arriving on the heels of “Navigator,” her survey at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, “Road Trip,” on view from May 20 to July 1 at Andrew Edlin Gallery in New York, features recent drawings, paintings, and tapestries that hover between spaceship blueprint, geometric abstraction, and impenetrable abecedary. Below, Knight addresses her diverse influences, her relationship with paranormality and

  • View of “Gala Porras-Kim,” 2021–22. Photo: Shark Senesac.

    Gala Porras-Kim

    At the historic site of Teotihuacán, twenty-five miles northeast of Mexico City, two greenstone monoliths were dislodged from the caliginous interior of the Pyramid of the Sun as if they were bad teeth. Unearthed during an excavation that occurred between 2008 and 2011, the smooth colossi ended up being featured in a presentation of new archaeological findings from the ancient Mesoamerican city. When artist Gala Porras-Kim encountered the show in its 2018 iteration at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Bogotá-born Angeleno questioned the decision to displace the hidden megaliths, whose

  • Detail from Carmen Winant’s Instructional Photography (SPBH, 2021).
    books March 11, 2022

    Direct Action


    “LET ME PAUSE HERE to say that ‘instructional photographs’ is a term that I have made up; there is no preexisting dedicated category for this kind of picture,” writes artist Carmen Winant in her slim, pocketable book Instructional Photography: Learning How to Live Now. On the opposite page, a woman gingerly pulls hardened plaster from her face; culled from a photographic “how-to” on mask-making, the black-and-white image has been shorn of captions and context, extricated from the words

  • Shigeko Kubota, Three Mountains, 1976–79, four-channel video, color, sound, approx. 30 minutes each. Installation view. Photo: Denis Doorly.

    Shigeko Kubota

    After studying sculpture at the Tokyo University of Education, Shigeko Kubota (1937–2015) relocated to New York in 1964 and quickly established herself within the city’s Fluxus community as a facilitator of events, a maker of objects, and a performance artist in her own right. Yet the groundbreaking 1969 exhibition “TV as a Creative Medium,” staged at New York’s Howard Wise Gallery (the artist reviewed the show for the Japanese art magazine Bijutsu Techo), and the invention of the Sony Porta-Pak (an affordable compact video camera with instant playback) irrevocably changed the way she would