Thursday, July 10, 2008

Day 20: Ladies of the Land

Agnes Denes with the Public Art Fund, 1982, Wheatfield Confrontation

I went to the Sculpture Center in LIC today. A fantastic show is up called Decoys, Complexes, and Triggers. It highlights the work of women land artists working in the 1970s. I had been wanting to see documentation of Agnes's Wheatfield Confrontation in person for a long time - it lived up to my expectations. Being able to see Battery Park City before the city, with her 2 acres of golden wheat growing on it and the former world trade centers rising boldly in the background, conjured a complicated and moving sensation of possibility.

The women in the show work in relation- to the cosmos, cardinal directions, and local landscapes. I was mesmerized for 22 minutes by Nancy Holt's highly produced documentation of the building/ installation/ experience of her Sun Tunnels. The fabrication of these 4 Tunnels involved seemingly hundreds of people and many hulking machines. When Holt installed the Tunnels in their highly remote location near Lucin, UT the population was 10. Today it stands at 0. If you want to find your way there, and find yourself alone in landscape of silence and deep alignment, follow the CLUI directions. It works.

Excerpt from the curator:

"While some artists in
Decoys, Complexes, and Triggers identified their work as Feminist, many of them, including Alice Aycock, Jackie Ferrara, and Nancy Holt, explicitly rejected such categorization. This is not to say that these artists were not Feminists, only that their work was not based in a Feminist ideology and did not draw upon imagery and subject matter common to Feminist art of the time. They produced work of equal scale, ambition, and critical intentionality as their male peers.

Some work included in Decoys, Complexes, and Triggers is well known, such as documentation of Agnes Denes' Wheatfield – A Confrontation (1982), where the artist planted and harvested a two-acre wheat field in downtown Manhattan (currently Battery Park City)...

Reviewing this work now is important. The exhibitions and publications devoted to Feminist art and more generally to art of the 1970s presented over the past decade have not addressed the significant contributions made by this group of artists. In addition, the critical interest in the formal issues of current sculptural practice makes a new examination of this radical work timely." - Sculpture Center website

Decoys, Complexes, and Triggers
Agnes Denes
Nancy Holt (site currently under construction)

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