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Mira Schor

Lyles & King
106 Forsyth Street
March 18, 2016–April 24, 2016

Mira Schor, “Power” Figure #7: Still Too Young, Not Dead Enough, 2015, pastel, ink, gesso, tracing paper, 45 x 24''.

“Are you a feminist artist?” is a dogged refrain, running like an earworm through Mira Schor’s new exhibition of oil paintings and delicate works on paper. Rendered in the artist’s fluid, unfussy script—the hallmark of her painterly conceptualism and long-standing investigations of language as image—the text fills small boxy speech bubbles at eye-level with a repeated figure, ostensibly the feminist artist in question. She’s depicted as a playfully morbid diagram, reduced to a set of signs, a sparsely accessorized stick figure with breasts and a skull. Schor’s distilled figuration is not a dry semiotic exercise, though. Schor’s very into her materials, and employs an edge of angry wit.

Drawn with ink, pencil, gesso, and charcoal on vertical sheets of tracing paper tacked to the walls, her “‘Power’ Figure” series, 2015–16, which fills the gallery’s large main room, is composed of two dozen or so iterations of this symbol/woman. In a number of them, rust-colored lines connect their crotches or nipples to open books, as if the figures—or their organs—write telekinetically with menstrual blood or milk. Schor, with this weird archetypal imagery, provocatively confuses tropes of female reproduction with concerns of feminist representation. “Power” Figure #7: Still Too Young, Not Dead Enough, 2015, is a stark picture of the woman artist whose dead career will merit discovery or resurrection at her life’s end. In it, a dead alien head floats above a scribbly, sexed body and the show’s dominant query is countered with another pervasive contemporary demand: “Can you help once a month?” It’s a subtle time stamp embedded in this timeless-looking show, which, taken all together, forms a complex and energetic portrait of feminist fatigue.

Johanna Fateman