Art Review: Two Visions of Feminism at Gitana Rosa and The Hole

As the term feminism enjoys a resurgence in pop culture, two art shows which opened this month in New York City offer unique visions of its future.

“The New Bitch–Twilight of the Idols” currently on view at Gitana Rosa is the kind of ambitious, risk-taking show that one is would expect to encounter in a Bushwick art space, and almost never does in a Chelsea gallery.  It is messy and uneven, and much of the art doesn’t just flirt with bad taste, but embraces it.  As the title of the show suggests, the artists in the show are unconcerned with making art that is “pretty”–intent instead on upending our expectations, and challenging us to look deeper than their works’ surfaces.

Detail of 'Pheromone Bouquet' by Gregory Jacobsen

Detail of ‘Pheromone Bouquet’ by Gregory Jacobsen

Katie Cercone’s site specific installation incorporates (to name a few) a melange of My Little Ponies, sewn spandex, pink streamers, and a tie-dyed Minnie Mouse with a kaleidoscopic (sometimes literally) video of her playing dress up animated with candy hearts and Lisa Frank stickers. Drawing on the tradition of the grotesque, Gregory Jacobsen’s (the single male in the show) excellent paintings of women, look like a cross between John Currin and Hieronymus Bosch; they posses a similar mastery of paint, but their portrayal of the human body is infinitely more frightening.  More painterly, but no less disturbing are two large oil paintings by Dawn Frasch, that amazingly bring to mind both Botticelli and Goya.

'Abject Spells of Desire' by Dawn Frasch

‘Abject Spells of Desire’ by Dawn Frasch

Rebecca Goyette’s faux-naif drawings depicting naked women and groups of pilgrims in various sexual situations are utterly bizarre.  They are made slightly less so, when one learns that the series was inspired by the experience of her great grandmother who was accused of being a Salem witch, inspected for extra teats for her animal familiars, and then hanged.

Perhaps the most traditionally beautiful work in the show is that by painter Michele Basora and photographer Christina Dallas, who interlace enchanting images of women with symbols of nature and the occult, respectively.

The New Bitch is on view at Gitana Rosa Chelsea, 530 W. 25th Street, #407, New York, New York through October 4, 2014.

Future-Is-Female

(photo credit: Melanie Bonajo)

Downtown,  on view at  “The Hole” gallery, feminism takes on a the mystical, ethereal qualities of a new-age cult. “Future Feminism” posits itself as a movement based on 13 tenets collaboratively written by Antony (of Antony and the Johnsons), dance-based performance artist Johanna Constantine, Kembra Pfahler ( of the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black), and sisters Sierra and Bianca Casady (of CocoRosie.)  Sliced thin enough as to appear slightly translucent, these tenets (starting with The Subjugation of Women and the Earth is One and the Same, and ending with The Future is Female) are each carved into 13 large-scale rose quartz discs hung on the walls on the gallery. Palely pink, the stone, by those who believe in the healing powers of crystals, is thought to attract and retain love, as well as heal one’s heart from pain and disappointment.  If the typical dismissal of the feminist movement is that it is fueled by anger at men, these works circumvent that criticism entirely. Their serene beauty belies the power of their message.

Also part of the exhibition, a thirteen-night performance and lecture series featuring  the Future Feminists and their collaborators began last week and continues through the show closing, with Kiki Smith, Anne Waldman, Marina Abramović, Carolee Schneemann, and others still set to perform.

Future Feminism runs through September 27, 2014 at The Hole, 312 Bowery, New York, NY