Red Cruella (2010); Color photographs, text; 20 1/4 x 29 1/4 in. framed; Edition of 5, 2AP; courtesy of the artist

Red Cruella (2010); Color photographs, text; 20 1/4 x 29 1/4 in. framed; Edition of 5, 2AP; courtesy of the artist

Martha Wilson

January 26 – March 22, 2013

Nichols Gallery

Disband Disband

Martha Wilson is an Independent Curators International (ICI) traveling exhibition with an added collaborative component that allows each venue to further develop the show’s thesis in consultation with the artist. This collaborative model lets the hosting institution focus on different aspects of the exhibition through selection and emphasis of individual works, specific thematic content and collateral programming.

Martha Wilson is a pioneering feminist artist and gallery director. For the past four decades, she has created innovative photographic and video works that explore her female subjectivity through role-playing, costume transformation and “invasions” of other people’s personas.

Martha Wilson mines various experimental practices, writings and shifting perspectives to explore current attitudes toward feminism, activism and collaborative practice. This exhibition includes conceptually-based performance, photo-texts and video as well as selected projects from 30 years of Franklin Furnace, an artist-run space that Wilson founded to challenge institutional norms and champion the exploration and promotion of artists’ books, installation art, and video and performance art.

Working Girl Working Girl

Wilson’s career began in Nova Scotia in the early 1970s. Her work first began to garner wide-spread attention after Lucy Lippard contextualized Wilson’s pieces within the parameters of conceptual practice and other women artists. In 1974, Wilson moved to New York City where her provocative appearances and works gained national recognition—Judy Chicago once denounced her for “irresponsible demagoguery.” Wilson has also been regarded by many as prefiguring some of Judith Butler’s ideas on gender perfomativity through her practice. More recently, she was described by art critic Holland Cotter as one of “the half-dozen most important people for art in downtown Manhattan in the 1970s.”

In 1976, Wilson founded and then directed Franklin Furnace, where artists Jenny Holzer, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Wilson, William Wegman and hundreds of others first premiered their work. In 1981, Wilson continued her collaborative tradition when she hosted a gathering in New York of feminist performance artists from Los Angeles and London—a group that included Leslie Labowitz, Linda Nishio, Martha Rosler, Rose Finn-Kelsey, Sonia Knox and Carlyle Reedy—and staged a series of performances titled LA-London Lab. Franklin Furnace continues its nearly four decades of programming today, preserving and advocating avant-garde art by providing exhibition space, publishing periodicals and printing artist books.

ici_logoMartha Wilson is organized by Independent Curators International (ICI), New York, and was initiated by guest curator Peter Dykhuis. The exhibition, tour, and the accompanying publication Martha Wilson Sourcebook are made possible in part by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, The Cowles Charitable Trust, and by the generous support of the ICI Board of Trustees.

About the Artist

Martha Wilson has created innovative photographic and video works for more than four decades. She began making these videos and photo/text works in the early 1970s when she was studying in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and further developed her performative and video-based practice after moving in 1974 to New York City where she gained attention across the US for her provocative appearances and works. Early in her career, the art critic and curator Lucy Lippard contextualized Wilson’s pieces within the parameters of conceptual practice and other women artists. In 1976, Wilson founded and then directed Franklin Furnace, an artist-run space that championed the exploration and promotion of artists’ books, installation art, and video and performance art, further challenging institutional norms, the roles artists played within visual arts organizations and expectations about what constituted acceptable art mediums. Over her long career, Wilson has been written into and out of art history according to the theories and convictions of the time. She has been regarded by many as prefiguring some of Judith Butler’s ideas on gender perfomativity through her practice and is considered one of the most innovative creative forces in the New York art world of the 1970s.

About the Curator

Peter Dykhuis is director/curator of the Dalhousie Art Gallery in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Dykhuis is the former director of the Anna Leonowens Gallery at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and served as a guest curator for the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. His most recent exhibitions were Exalted Beings: Animal Relationships, Douglas Walker: Other Worlds and Giving Notice: Words on Walls.

Related Events

Opening Reception:
Saturday, January 26, 2013, 2-4 p.m. at Nichols Gallery

Barbara Bush on LA><ART by Martha Wilson
Pitzer College Art Galleries in collaboration with LA><ART
2640 S. La Cienega
Los Angeles, CA 90034
Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 6:30 p.m.

Artist Lecture:
Wednesday, March 13 at 10 a.m. in Broad Center Performance Space, Pitzer College

We’ll Think of a Title When We Meet AKA LA-London Lab
Conversation with Martha Wilson, Suzanne Lacy, and Cheri Gaulke
The panel will be moderated by Dr. Alexandra Juhasz, Pitzer College professor of media studies

Pitzer College Art Galleries in collaboration with Otis Public Practice at the 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica
1657 18th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90404
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 7 p.m.

Last modified by Laurie Babcock, on December 12, 2015.