601 Artspace show 49.5
A collaborative project organized by Susan Hamburger and Jessica Hargreaves
Nov. 13th, 2020 - Feb 28th, 2021
601Artspace, 88 Eldridge St.
As of the last United Nations census in 2018, women represented nearly fifty percent of the global population, yet held less than 24% of national political offices worldwide. In the wake of the 2016 U.S. presidential election and with the 2020 presidential race upon us, artists and exhibition organizers Susan Hamburger and Jessica Hargreaves ask: why do we, as a society, still seem to have so much trouble envisioning and supporting women in power? To respond to this question, they have invited ten artists to join them in creating new work that explores the theme of women and power.
Hamburger and Hargreaves have created a salon-style installation that draws inspiration from historic houses and period rooms, domestic interiors typically under the purview of the lady of the house on a wealthy estate. The arrangement, color scheme and aesthetic also borrows heavily from traditional manse-like western art museums such as the Alte Pinakotech in Munich and the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London. Eschewing the modernist white box in favor of decorative flourishes in rich reds, ochres and blue-grays, Hamburger and Hargreaves transform the gallery itself into a performance about acceptance and status, a form of architectural and historical drag.
The contributing artists join organizers Hamburger and Hargreaves in an ongoing engagement with portraiture, politics and images of women. Working in painting, drawing, sculpture and mixed media, each artist’s work is informed by multiple identities, including activist, feminist, parent, and educator. The work engages a multiplicity of issues, among them, the legacy of colonialism; the impact of climate change; the prevalence of gun violence; civil, gay and human rights; immigration policy; and mental health care. They come together for a dialogue about how power manifests: what does it look like, who has it, who cedes it, who holds it, who wields it, who “does” it. Examined through filters of class, privilege, race and sexual orientation, they explore the contradictions inherent in participating in and working within a system while trying to change it.