Critics’ Picks

Installation view of Erik van Lieshout, Fantasy Me, 2004.

Installation view of Erik van Lieshout, Fantasy Me, 2004.


“Cooling Out—On the Paradox of Feminism”

Kunsthaus Baselland
St. Jakob-Strasse 170
August 13–October 1, 2006

Has feminism imploded? Is gender still a relevant topic for younger generations of female artists, and if so, how does their work differ from the radical feminist art of the ‘70s (and its clichés)? This group show—comprising fifteen female artists and artist collectives and two men—strategically poses such questions rather than answering them directly. The debate has obviously cooled in recent years, but the question of whether or not gender equality has been attained throughout professional and social spheres (not to mention different parts of the world) remains an important one. Acutely reflecting this complex dilemma is Andrea Geyer and Sharon Hayes’s video series Cambio de Lugar/Change of Place, 2000–2002, in which young women in New York, Mexico City, Vienna, and Berlin are asked questions about location, gender, and class. The terminological slippages and anxieties, apparent in the interviewees’ pauses when asked to define feminism, are further highlighted by the videos’ singular focus on the translator. The clash of understandings is intensified in Fantasy Me, 2004, in which Erik van Lieshout tries aggressively to teach a young Chinese woman to spell out the word feminism and act “strong and powerful.” A quieter, but no less disquieting, piece is Ella Ziegler’s self-analyzing Danksagung (Acknowledgments), 2006, in which the artist mentions everyone who helped (or hindered) her in the realization of her projects. To her own surprise, roughly 80 percent of these agents were male, underscoring the myriad ways that gender inflects our lives.

“Cooling Out” is also on view September 1–November 26 at the Lewis Glucksman Gallery in Cork, Ireland, and September 16–October 29 at the Halle für Kunst in Lüneberg, Germany.