This presentation of 25 monochromatic works by some of the most influential contemporary female artists working today, all drawn from the Foundation’s diverse collection, include the work of Laura Aguilar, Dorothy Cross, Judy Dater, Annette Messager, Lorraine O’Grady, Robyn O’Neil, Linda Pace, Tracey Rose, Lara Schnitger and Kiki Smith, with works spanning 1975 through 2009.
As the title implies, the exhibition addresses the concept of ownership—both literally and figuratively—and the notion of “reclaiming” what’s ours, from our lands and governments to our physical bodies and basic human rights. Central to each of the works on view are themes of nature, identity and the female form, often times as a depiction of non-traditional feminine ideals. For instance, in Mexican-American photographer Laura Aguilar’s self-portrait series, Stillness, the artist displays her large, naked body against the natural landscape. By fusing the cracked earth, bulbous rocks and knotted tree trunks of the San Antonio wilderness with the curvatures and folds of her own unconventional shape, Aguilar asserts her beauty as an extension of nature.
Other artists in the exhibition address these themes by exploring the decentralization of the human body. In Annette Messager’s sculptural installation Mes voeux sous filets, dozens of photographs, each containing a single foot, mouth, ear, nose, breast, etc. hang beneath a layer of netting. Inspired by religious relics historically hung from church ceilings, Messager employs these symbols as a commentary on blurred gender binaries and the widespread objectification of the physical form.
Similarly, in Landscape (Western Hemisphere), a single channel video installation, Lorraine O’Grady’s hair serves as the primary subject. Filmed at an extreme close-up and presented without context, the gently-blowing strands are reminiscent of a dense forest, and by drawing this comparison between African American femininity and the western world, O’Grady points to the fraught history of colonization and its continued effects on racial equality today.
Throughout the exhibition, the color palette—or lack thereof—and focus on photography, film, cast sculpture and works on paper, underscores the seriousness of the subject matter and harkens back to more traditional methods of artistic production. A departure from the Foundation’s typical spotlight on experimental and new media works, this unexpected selection provides insight into the depth and variedness of the permanent collection.
Linda Pace Foundation, 111 Camp Street, San Antonio, TX 78204. | U.S.A.
Laura Aguilar, Stillness, 1999. Silver gelatin print. 12 x 9 in. © Laura Aguilar. Linda Pace Foundation.