new-york

Kathe Burkhart

Mitchell Algus Gallery/Schroeder Romero

Every cultural movement spawns its own lingo, some of which inevitably becomes vestigial and embarrassing, and feminist art is certainly no exception. About “femmage,” the less said the better, but the term “bad girls” bears examination. Title of several mid-’90s shows and irritant to many critics, the expression is often associated with Kathe Burkhart, who is credited with launching it into wide circulation in a 1990 Flash Art interview. Referring to the subject of her “Liz Taylor Series” (1982–), Burkhart said, “She is a representative of the ‘bad dark-girl’ rather than the ‘blond good girl.’ ”

Burkhart never called herself a bad girl, but at some point during the next few years that distinction was elided—a slippage that correlates with a curious logic then in play, which seemed to dictate that the more postfeminist strategies looked like prepolitical acting out, the more they would be

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