new-york

Mary Klein

A.I.R. Gallery/Amos Eno Gallery

Mary Klein’s performance Blue Tongues, 1993, was a wry, Hollywood-fashion-show parody of patriarchal power. A coolly errant sister whose unassuming appearance and pleasant demeanor belie her ability to catch a few philosophers of femininity with their proverbial pants down, Klein set about undressing figures ranging from Freud to Lacan to Krafft-Ebing and even Jesse Helms, rebuking their authority on “normal” female behaviors by revealing it to be as artificial as polyester. Slides detailing images of women from canonical paintings were projected past Klein’s contorted figure on a gauzy scrim, while an offstage voice delivered a presentation of ideas strictly tailored to exclude women who don’t “fit” archaic standards of femininity. “This season,” the phlegmatic narrator said, “Krafft-Ebing’s evening collection features slinky gowns cut to restrict movement and encourage heterosexual

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 ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

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