Friday, April 17, 2009

Martha Wilson Q&A in today's National Post

I feel like the last few months have been a gold mine for examining key feminist legacies in visual art. First WACK at the Vancouver Art Gallery, then the Judy Chicago show at the Textile Museum in Toronto, and now a Martha Wilson survey at the Dalhousie Art Gallery in Halifax. I felt lucky to chat with Wilson about her work on the phone last week; today the Post published a condensed version of the interview. Here's an excerpt (love the straightforwardness!):

Q The first phase of works in this exhibition -- the self-portraits -- were also started in Halifax in the late '60s. Where did those come from for you?

A I would say misery. Misery, unhappiness, awareness that women are held as valuable if they are beautiful, and knowing that I am not particularly beautiful. And knowing how very unfair that is, and living in a male-dominated environment. In addition to the culture at large being male dominated, the art school was, too.

There were a few female visitors at that time, one being American critic Lucy Lippard. She looked at the work I'd done and said, "Yes, you are an artist" -- which was good because no one else had said that!--and, "I know other women around the continent who are doing work in the same direction." Through those connections, I moved to New York in 1973.

Image of Martha Wilson's Male Impersonator (Butch), 1974 from the Dalhousie Art Gallery


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