CJSF volunteer, Kate Lerman, reviews the new exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery...
Plus, who am I to pass up by-donation night at the VAG?
WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution is a collection of works, from a variety of media, that aims to show the work that “emerged from the dynamic relationship between art and feminism between 1965 and 1980, a time in which a majority of feminist activism and art-making occurred across the globe.” (Quote from the Vancouver Art Gallery website)
The exhibition brings together the work of 120 artists to examine the international foundations and impact of feminism on art.
Walking from one piece to the next, I asked my friend Elizabeth what impressions she got from the works around us. It is of note, I think, that Elizabeth is a University grad with an English degree, a recent Vancouver-émigré, and described herself as a perpetually unemployed musician. Her most striking comment: that WACK! “has the most content with the least possible amount of meaning.” Ouch… I guess? That isn’t to say that she didn’t enjoy the show, but we both agreed that some kind of cohesiveness certainly seemed to be missing.
Of course, individual pieces, be they paintings, photographs, or giant metal cages filled with mattresses (don’t ask… but do go see), may be fascinating, but in a show like WACK!, it is crucial for the individual pieces to work well together. This is what seemed lacking to me as a not-very-savvy fan and consumer of art. I understand that the works span 1965 and 1980, and this is done on purpose, but I can’t help wondering what the impact of the show would be if more modern works, or earlier ones, for that matter, were included. If anything, I feel like art from those other time periods would have further accentuated the stark uniqueness and focus of the work that WACK! currently displays.
As with most shows such as this one, I suggest you bring a friend (or two). One can internalize the issues that the work in the show presents until the cows and other barnyard animals come home, but it seems to me that one of main purposes of the work is societal discussion and debate.
“WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution” runs until January 11, 2009, at the Vancouver Art Gallery. For more info, visit vanartgallery.bc.ca.