Emily LaBarge

  • View of “Rita Keegan,” 2021. Photo: Andy Stagg.

    Rita Keegan

    In “Social Fabric Stories”—an index to the fabrics that decorate the impressive train of the garment at the center of the mixed-media installation Trophies Revised, 2021–, invited artists, friends, activists, educators, and archivists offer to Rita Keegan scraps of their own work: homages to times and art scenes past, present, future, and ongoing. These collaborators recall not only Keegan’s art, but also her work behind the scenes, helping to establish the Brixton Art Gallery, cofounding the print technology cooperative Community Copy Art, building the Women of Colour Index. They speak of

  • Erika Verzutti, Tarsila with Orange, 2011, bronze, acrylic paint, 10 1⁄2 × 13 3⁄8 × 10 5⁄8".

    Erika Verzutti

    “There are fingers everywhere,” Erika Verzutti has said of her work. In the Brazilian artist’s first solo exhibition in a British museum, which includes more than forty works made between 2003 and 2021, fingers really are everywhere—or have been: fingers impressed, poked, dug, smoothed, caressed; fingers gouged into concrete, Styrofoam, or clay, which is then cast in bronze. Verzutti’s bodily work wants to make its processes seen, known, even felt. “For me, that’s a desperate need to share the experience,” she said in a 2015 interview, “the contact with the clay: wet, smooth, firm, cold, and so

  • Chantal Joffe, My Mother in a Blue Shawl in her Doorway, 2020, oil on board, 72 × 47 1⁄4".

    Chantal Joffe

    Yes, it’s true, mothers are people too. “Most of the literature of infant care and psychology has assumed that the process toward individuation is essentially the child’s drama, played out against and with a parent or parents who are, for better or worse, givens,” writes Adrienne Rich in the 1976 study Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution. “Nothing could have prepared me for the realization that I was a mother, one of those givens, when I knew I was still in a state of uncreation myself.” Almost half a century later, in writing, art, and film about motherhood, the experience

  • Charles Gaines, Face #16, Naoki Sutter-Shudo (Japanese/French/Swiss German), 2020, acrylic paint, acrylic sheet, ink-jet print, 66 1⁄2 × 55 1⁄4 × 8". From “Numbers and Faces: Multi-Racial/Ethnic Combinations Series 1,” 2019–20.

    Charles Gaines

    Generous is not typically a word associated with Conceptual art, but it’s precisely how I would describe the work of Charles Gaines: critically, provocatively, radically, sometimes paradoxically, but never submissively, generous. “The subjective imagination is an ideology, it’s not a fact,” the artist has said. He has also observed that the categories and universal paradigms, including “the creator,” in which we find ourselves inscribed are both constructed and arbitrary. In Gaines’s work, the challenge to systems and structures is necessarily inward- and outward-looking at once: The eradication

  • Erin O’Keefe, Circle, Circle, 2020, ink-jet print, 32 × 40".

    Erin O’Keefe

    The wrongness of images, or our apperceptions of them: What appears to be a painting is actually a photograph. What appear to be two-dimensional painted lines, curves, rectangles, arabesques, planes of color, or abstract geometries with trompe l’oeil shadows are in fact three-dimensional objects carefully arranged, brightly illuminated, and flattened into a beguiling single plane by the lens of a camera. “I’m interested in finding/discovering/choreographing moments of uncertainty that exist in the image, but not in the ‘real’ spatial condition,” says Erin O’Keefe, erstwhile architecture professor

  • Nancy Holt, Points of View, 1974, four-channel video installation, black-and-white, sound, 44 minutes. Video unit: 78 × 48 × 48".

    Nancy Holt

    STAR EARTH SKY WATER MOON SUN, reads Nancy Holt’s The World Through a Circle, ca. 1970, a sheet of white paper on which these typewritten words—read in either direction and starting in any location—form just that: a circle, one of the artist’s favorite forms. A HOLE THROUGH THE EARTH, EITHER WAY / DRAWING IN A GLANCE / AND THEN A SECOND LOOK / AND MORE, reads a poem beneath. THE WORLD FOCUSES / AND SPINS OUT AGAIN, SEEN.

    Although we know artists’ lives feature no straight lines, no this-therefore-that, no easily charted evolution, we can be tempted to read their early efforts as harbingers of

  • Artemisia Gentileschi, Mary Magdalene in Ecstasy, c. 1620–25, oil on canvas, 31 1/2 × 41 1/2".
    slant December 18, 2020

    The Blazing World


    the tombstone of Artemisia Gentileschi is said to have read. Clear and simple, forgoing the usual embellishments, such as names of father, husband, and children, dates of birth and death. HEIC ARTEMISIA, or HERE LIES ARTEMISIA.

    Artemisia: now commonly referred to by her first name only (Madonna! Cher! Beyoncé!), in order to avoid confusion with that other famous Baroque Gentileschi pittore, her father, Orazio. In life, she also went by the surname Lomi, a nod to the traditional artisans of her Tuscan heritage, which she thought might endear her to the powers and patrons of Florence,

  • Helen Cammock, They Call It Idlewild, 2020, HD video, color, sound, 18 minutes, 35 seconds.

    Helen Cammock

    “Attention equals Life, or is its only evidence,” wrote poet Frank O’Hara, and as I watched Helen Cammock’s new film They Call It Idlewild (all works cited, 2020), I believed him—fervently, longingly. Cammock made the film, originally commissioned by Wysing Arts Centre in rural South Cambridgeshire as part of its thirtieth-birthday program, while she was in residence at the institution during the autumn and winter of 2019–20, and it is full of the low, glancing light that characterizes British winters. Cammock’s lens catches this light as it pauses against bright-orange walls, lingers high in

  • Hanne Darboven, Ein Jahrhundert.1b (A Century. 1b) (detail), 1971–74, offset print, typewriter, ink on graph paper, 100 sheets, each 11 3/4 × 8 1/4", in 25 frames.

    Hanne Darboven and Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt

    “I want what I want but what I want I cannot do but what I can, I’m not supposed to,” said Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt, who produced an enigmatic body of what she calls “typewritings” between 1979 to 1989, while living in what was then East Berlin.

    “What else to do / but art/ what more to do / what less to do / what else to be / but to do,” Hanne Darboven (1941–2009) wrote gnomically to Sol LeWitt in 1971 from Hamburg and the relative freedom of West Germany. Although Wolf-Rehfeldt and Darboven never met, were unaware of each other’s work, and lived and made art in radically different circumstances, the

  • Alina Szapocznikow, Noga (Leg), 1962, plaster, 7 7⁄8 × 19 5⁄8 × 25".

    Alina Szapocznikow

    I didn’t know it at the time, but the day I went to see “To Exalt the Ephemeral: Alina Szapocznikow, 1962–1972” would be, in light of the Covid-19 lockdown, my last day on the streets of London for a long time. Soon, we would be told to hide our bodies away, sick and healthy alike, until . . . I didn’t know when. At the gallery, I encountered striking evidence of the human body in all manner of states: ailing, productive, joyful, anarchic, in pieces, enduring. The word indexicality well describes the turn Szapocznikow’s works took in the decade leading up to her death in 1973. Their forms not

  • View of “Meriem Bennani: Party on the CAPS,” 2020, Julia Stoschek Collection, Berlin. Photo: Alwin Lay.


    IN A GALAXY FAR, FAR AWAY, sometimes known as the here and now, or a version of it, a woman’s tangled blonde updo smokes, bursts into flame, and shatters into hundreds of pixelated pieces. A slick and sexy fly, indigo with glinting green highlights, buzzes through a crowded marketplace, rests on a pile of halvah, reclines on a zucchini (leaving an animated gloop of sticky neon residue behind), flits through traffic singing Rihanna’s 2016 hit “Kiss It Better.” Been waiting on that sunshine boy, I think I need that back. The fly’s reedy, high-pitched voice strains gleefully for the upper registers:

  • Prunella Clough, Disused Land, 1999, oil on canvas, 53 × 49".

    Prunella Clough

    Prunella Clough—Pru to her friends, or sometimes Pruny—liked “paintings that say a small thing rather edgily,” as she told the Picture Post in 1949, when she was interviewed alongside her notable peers of the day, among them Robert Colquhoun, Patrick Heron, and Keith Vaughan. She was just thirty, but her succinct articulation of artistic aims already hinted at what would be a lifelong painterly commitment: “Whatever the theme, it is the nature and structure of an object—that, and seeing it as if it were strange and unfamiliar, which is my chief concern.” So “edgily” as in: wayward, askew,