What She Said at Ace/121 Gallery
What She Said: Living in Dystopia
Ace/121 Gallery and The Association of Hysteric Curators
through March 13
Written by Eve Wood, June 28, 2020
For centuries women have been silenced, disavowed, and in many cases completely erased from history. Sadly, this is still very much the case today. Women are still paid significantly less than men and once again, as Barbara Krueger passionately pronounced so many years ago, “our bodies are STILL a battleground.” This is why the work the Association of Hysteric Curators continues to produce feels so vital and necessary. Their most recent incarnation entitled “What She Said; Living in Dystopia” brings together a group of women who’ve created a multidisciplinary visual experience that includes video, performance art, photography, painting, drawing and yes, tarot cards! Women are diviners of the unknowable, and because they are the sex the brings new life into the world, they are inherently more intuitive and thus more dangerous. What She Said explores the idea of women embracing their own relationship to mystery and the unknown, but also taking ownership of the primal and fundamental “danger” they have come to represent in a patriarchal culture.
Inherent within this perceived danger is an essential and lingering mythology that many female artists have deliberately cultivated. Mary Anna Pomonis’ painting “Snake in the Mist” which was inspired by the image of the snake as a powerful harbinger of transformation and derives from the Greek word Pythia, an interpreter from the earth goddess, is deceptively simple in its content. Pomonis represents the image of the snake embedded within geometric patterning, deliberately muting her color palette, and creating a persuasive and equally seductive maze that, as with any good snake, entices you deeper into the center where it eventually strikes, and renders you useless and at its mercy. Carolyn Castano’s constructed landscape, made entirely from fabrics like lace that read culturally as sexually charged objects, recodifies our notion of titillation and our consumption of the “female image,” and Cintia Segovia’s humorous “Revolucionaria” posits the artist, posing holding a cooking utensil traditionally used for making chocolate and donning a gun belt with chili peppers in place of bullets, as a freedom fighter. The image is strong and speaks to issues of immigration and stereotypes using wit and imagination. Nancy Evans also utilizes humor in her sculpture “MerDonna,” where the artist conflates the mythical image of the seductress mermaid known to lead sea faring men astray with the image of the Madonna. The piece is both absurd and miraculous in the best possible way.
Allison Stewart’s “Proctor’s Ledge Memorial, Salem, Massachusetts, Dedicated, 2017” explores the ways in which women have been silenced throughout American history. A memorial to the women who were burned at the stake during what is now known as the Salem Witch trials, Stewart presents the name of a single woman, Martha Carrier and a single dying purple daisy amid the stoic gray stones that surround them. The result is simultaneously palpable and powerful.
Other works in the show are riotously beautifully as is the case with Cherie Benner Davis’ luminous “Cadmium Dreaming,” a small painting that demands we approach it with an open and willing heart, even if that heart is breaking. Camilla Taylor’s “The Soil” is also beautiful in a darkly haunting way as it references the plant pennyroyal used to induce abortions, an is elegantly crafted. Other artists include: Paula Wilson, Caroline Yoo, Dajin Yoon, Michiko Yao, Silvi Naci, Emily Sudd, Scarlett Kim, Maya Mackrandilal and Scartlett Kim, Annie Buckley, Lili Bernard and Marne Lucas.