new-york

Hannah Wilke

Ronald Feldman Gallery

Hannah Wilke makes feminism look easy, and why shouldn’t she? After all, she’s been committed to sketching out a language of female eroticism on the drawing board of representation for years now. The strongest work in this show was the “Seura Chaya” series, 1978–89, which juxtaposes photographs of Wilke’s mother, ill from cancer and bald from chemotherapy, with drawings of the artist’s bird, Chaya. (Wilke got the bird after her mother’s death.) This work is testimony to the courage of both mother and daughter. Wilke has written that by obsessively photographing her mother, she had hoped to give her more life. She wants to transform the will to fix an image, to represent her mother, into an act of lifegiving. But Wilke’s mother, with her huge eyes, smooth head, and emaciated body, looks all the more fragile and isolated by her physical deterioration. Yet there is beauty here and strength

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the December 1989 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.