The New York Times, Sunday, December 21, 2008
The Times 2008 year-in-art review featured O’Grady as one of the artists proving that feminist art is still “the source.” Photos of the Miscegenated Family Album installation and the “Sisters I” diptych, in the companion online slideshow, were two of the 20-image total.
By HOLLAND COTTER. 2008
IN the past eight years American art and American politics had a lot in common. Both favored big money, insularity and retrograde conservatism. Now come changes.
In politics the old order was voted out. In the art world money is running out. Auctions are iffy. Galleries are closing. Museums are in slash-back mode. So 2009 could be 1989 all over again. Important to remember: The last crash opened the art world’s tightly guarded gates to a wave of upstarttalent and radical new ways of thinking. That was great. It could happen again.
Meanwhile here are some notable events from 2008, a year that may go into the history books as the first catastrophic fall, but also the first vital correction, for art in the new century. . . .
CHINA’S EXPERIMENT When Chinese contemporary art went international a decade ago, it had a manic energy and few rules. Today the gallery scene in Beijing is all but identical to that in New York: same spaces, same hype, same percentage of bad product. Far more interesting are new finds of old art — bronzes, ceramics, sculptures, entire cultures — coming out of Chinese soil. Provincial museums are experimenting with fresh ways to exhibit
the material effectively, the biggest challenge being how, or whether, to make discoveries like tomb murals, too fragile to be moved, accessible. . .
FEMINISM LIVES Strong exhibitions of work largely from the 1970s by Judith Bernstein, Lorraine O’Grady, Barbara T. Smith and Martha Wilson demonstrated that art emerging from early feminism was and is The Source.
A HOLE IN THE FLOOR For his show titled “You” at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, Urs Fischer destroyed the gallery floor with jackhammers, then excavated the earth beneath. Gallery visitors climbed down into an open pit. Footing was uncertain and sharp rocks poked up. Who knew what pollutants lurked? This was art after the bottom fell out.
ADIEU TO AN ALTERNATIVE Triple Candie, Manhattan’s one truly alternative alternative space, closed. Located in Harlem, it began with solid, traditional shows. By the end it was showing anonymous work by real artists and signed work by fictional artists. In the process it exploded the meanings of creativity, history, authenticity and value. And it gave lessons in advance on how art and artists can survive, even thrive, in hard times, which of course they will.
© 2009 Lorraine O'Grady | All rights reserved.