International Women’s Day At The Armory Show

Mary Sibande, "Cry Havoc", 2014, Gallery MOMO, Johannesburg and Capetown, South Africa, Platform section, The Armory Show, New York (photograph by Nancy Nesvet).


by Nancy Nesvet

MARCH 8, 2018, NEW YORK CITY — Happy International Women’s Day! In celebration, I focus on women artists and those who make work about women. That was not a difficult perspective, as about 60 percent of the work at the 2018 Armory Show in New York features women artists or female subjects. I do not think that is a reflection of there being two women curators at the show, Gabriel Ritter of the Focus section, and Jen Mergel of Platform, showing large works and installations, but as women, they are aware of who is out there and the difficulties they may have faced in getting their work shown.

At Platform, which shows work of single artists, South African artist Mary Sibande’s Cry Havoc, 2014, at Gallery YOMO’s booth shows female figures she has costumed in Victorian era dresses, negating the domesticity inflicted by the colonialist empire against her black South African foremothers. Appropriating purple, the royal color, she further elevates the present-day status of these women. Posed with red dogs, she accesses the Zulu expression, “Wavuke Inja Ebomvu,” which translated into English reads she turned into a red dog, meaning, according to the artist, “anger is a dangerous animal.”

Beijing artist Wang Xin’s The Gallery, 2014, at Platform, hosts hourly exhibitions and video by artists who submitted their work to her online call. They get their 15 minutes of fame. She shares her curator’s skills in focusing on others’ work.

In the Focus section, artist JR, in SO Close, 2018, at Jeffrey Deitch Projects, New York, starts with a huge archival photograph of the crowds at Ellis Island, awaiting entrance into the United States, but he updates the portraits with images of Syrians from the Zaatari Refugee Camp, where hordes of Syrian men, women and children await their emancipation from the camp to immigrate to a safe nation.

Iranian artist Morehshin Allahyari’s work, at Upfor Gallery, Portland, Oregon, uses video and 3-D printed sculpture, to create overlooked and misrepresented female goddess figures from pre-and post-Islamic myths.

Presented by Prometeo Gallery di Isa Pisani, Milan, Guatemalan artist Regina Jose Galindo and Columbian artist Maria Evelia Marmolejo together perform a piece concerned with injustice, discrimination and abuse of power against women, and women’s roles in their patriarchal societies. They are one duo among many artists exploring the politics of women’s bodies.

Hong Kong artist Gabriele Beveridge’s blown ovoid glass shapes, shown by Parisian Laundry, Montreal, resemble silicone breast implants, emphasizing women’s fragility and drive to make their bodies appear perfect. But it asks whose image of perfection are we striving for, and what are the consequences?

Brazilian artist Karin Schneider’s Situational Diagrams (SD) at Levy Gorky, New York, mix petroleum, coal and Mars black pigment (from coal), with oil and other colors to produce relief paintings that draw from finite materials found below the earth’s surface that we are using up. This foray into eco-feminism is not the only exploration of environmentalism in the name of Mother Earth in this show, but it is one of the best.

It’s been a good day for women. This show is a celebration of their work and positive image of them. If this show and the work is any indication, the future burns bright for women artists and their concerns.

(The Armory Show runs March 8 through 11 at Piers 92 & 94, 711 12th Avenue at 55th St., New York City; for more details, visit http://www.thearmoryshow.com.)

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