Critics’ Picks

!Women's Questions?, 1965–2007, ink on paper, dimensions variable.

!Women's Questions?, 1965–2007, ink on paper, dimensions variable.

New York

Jef Geys

Orchard
47 Orchard Street
February 4–March 4, 2007

“What happens when feminism becomes a course rather than a cause?” This question, posed by Linda Nochlin during MoMA’s recent “Feminist Future” symposium, is amplified by 157 underlying concerns listed in Jef Geys’s !Women’s Questions?, 1965–2007, now making its belated US debut. Though Geys is not included in the feminist art canon or widely known outside his native Belgium, his community-based, dialogical approach offers a scrutiny of women’s experience since the Second Wave's heyday. Each work takes the form of a handwritten list; the repetitiveness (and seeming sincerity) of his uniform capital letters in thick black ink precludes knee-jerk responses and simplified judgment calls. !Women’s Questions? began as a questionnaire Geys hung on a classroom wall at the all-girls vocational school where he taught and, after much input from his students, has since expanded to bulky hanging scrolls and been cursorily translated into several languages. The queries range from the macro (“Do all women want to call their role into question?”) to the micro (“How does one avoid one becoming a kitchen slave?”), while highlighting a disturbing resemblance between the most pressing concerns then and now. However, a “think global, act local” optimism prevails in Geys’s practice: Proceeds from the exhibition will benefit the Henry Street Settlement.