Updated: Feb 2, 2012

MOCA announces that they are not buying original Three Weeks In May map despite prior indications it would, although Lacy reportedly in “talks” with NY museums.  Instead “L.A. artists who explore issues of representation, such as Catherine Opie, John Baldessari, Sharon Lockhart, Allen Ruppersberg and Diana Thater” and ” a few works from “Under the Big Black Sun,” its Pacific Standard Time show about political art in California in the 1970s. These acquisitions include text-based work from 1979 by Charles Gaines and a 1977 video by Linda Montano.”

I’d definitely be attending this event

Men on the Line, KPFK, 1972, by Andrea Fraser

Fraser developed the piece from a 1972 live radio broadcast of a dialogue between several men discussing the importance of feminist struggles to men, how they respond or fail to respond to their sisters, their anxieties, and their struggles. The artist transcribed and edited the dialogue in order to demonstrate both the efficacy of the Feminist movement to expand people’s perception of other social groups and the persistence of patriarchal thinking, even among those sympathetic to the Women’s Liberation movement. Men on the Line explores the complexity of reconciling disparate realities; even with the best intentions, true empathy for the other is difficult to achieve.

These concerns touch on some of the central arguments of the Feminist movement: whether one could consider men and women as inherently the same, or whether one had to respect their differences in recognizing the equal potential of both sexes; and whether class difference or gender ambiguity could similarly be reconciled in Feminist theory. Such thorny issues are hard to broach, even after years of Feminist scholarship and activism. Fraser’s piece succeeds in reiterating the pertinence of these anxieties as she adeptly teases them out of the very loaded dialogue of the Feminist movement’s male sympathizers. At base,Men on the Line prompts the viewer to reconsider such concerns, which are still of great importance to all discussions of social difference. Fraser shows us how the Woman’s Building and the larger Feminist movement tackled these issues early on and ignited a dialogue that expanded beyond the confines of women’s organizations.

The performance is one in a series curated by Emi Fontana of new works inspired by the influential Los Angeles-based Woman’s Building. The curatorial aim of the series is to highlight the tremendous impact of the Woman’s Building and feminist practices on contemporary art production.

Yesterady I wrote a bit about RE-CREATING FEMINISM: Performance and Politics 1977/2012 and today I’m completely intrigued in this piece by the notion that 1970s feminist art tackled issues that still are troubling for feminists today and that by going back in time we can somehow find something that will help sort these issuess.

The prevelances of “re,” in this case “reiterating the pertinence of these anxieties” twinned with “to reconsider such concerns, which are still of great importance to all discussions of social difference,” point to the belief that “by commissioning new works based on past ffeminist art or activism “the tremendous impact of the Woman’s Building and feminist practices on contemporary art production” will be established. The more I read of the recreations, the more it seems that a ciruclarity of legitmization is occuring. While I completely appreciate the impulse to highlight the great work done by feminist art activists in the 1970s, and have pretty much devoted my entire scholarly career to writing about it, I find the missing piece of the discourse, the absolutely disavowal of much of this work in the 1980s and 1990s, to be unhelpful. These are largely recuperative projects that seek to resituate the artists of the 1970s in the narrative of art history, and secondarily, sometimes within the larger feminist movement precisely because they were disparaged, not only in their moment by the mainstream, but in later decades by other feminists.

I find the contrast between the feminist recreations and other works in the same festival quite telling.  For example,  Civic Virtue: Watts Towers Here and Now is “influenced” by and largely means as a corrective to the original”

This public art expression is influenced by an original work by John Outterbridge, Dale Davis, Nate Ferance, Tom Little, Charles Dickson, and Elliot Pinkney, created in 1971. It will acknowledge the lack of representation of women artists, as did the 30th Annual Watts Towers Day of the Drum Festival and 35th Annual Simon Rodia Watts Towers Jazz Festival, which presented mostly women musicians and band leaders. These five women will be Afrishe Asungi, Margaret Garcia, Noni Olabisi, Toni Love, and Dominique Moody.

The readings, for example are “honoring the Watts Writers Workshop,” there are “Reflections and Remembrances” with Kamau Daaood and Erin Aubrey Kaplan.
in other words no one is recuperating anything, because the Watts tower, as feminist artists in the 1970s pointed out, was already taken far more seriously than other found object assemblages, such as those made by Grandma Prisbrey.
Perhaps the best known work being re-visited during the Performance and Public Arts Festival is the Artists’ Tower of Protest, which is carefully described as being “re-staged to reflect on this important historical moment in Los Angeles and to open a dialogue about the role of arts activism today.”  Of course, the Peace Tower, as it was known, was taken quite seriously from its very inception, and thus it is positioned now as a way “to open dialogue” its influence in “arts activism” of yesterday taken as a given starting point for “today.”