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Decoys, Complexes, and Triggers: Feminism and Land Art in the 1970s

Decoys, Complexes, and Triggers: Feminism and Land Art in the 1970s

Decoys, Complexes, and Triggers focuses on work by women artists who made significant contributions to the development of sculptural practice in the 1970s

du 01 avril 2008 au 30 avril 2008

Decoys, Complexes, and Triggers focuses on work by women artists who made significant contributions to the development of sculptural practice in the 1970s. They explored the formal constructs of Post-Minimalism: altering notions of sculptural scale, introducing non-traditional mediums, as well as adapting unusual landscape and interior sites. Utilizing an abstract, formal language, the artists in Decoys, Complexes, and Triggers helped define the structural conventions of Land Art and Post-Minimalism, such as architectural scale, the use of mathematical systems, and an awareness of the human body in relation to monumental works of art.

The exhibition includes sculpture, models, photographs, drawings video, and other forms of documentation, some of which has not been shown since its original exhibition. Many of the works in this exhibition contain oblique references to the body, subjectivity, and self-portraiture. While some artists in Decoys, Complexes, and Triggers identified their work as Feminist, many of them, including Alice Aycock, Jackie Ferrara, and Nancy Holt explicitly rejected such categorization. This is not to say that these artists were not Feminists, only that their work was not based in a Feminist ideology and did not draw upon imagery and subject matter common to Feminist art of the time.

They produced work of equal scale, ambition, and critical intentionality as their male peers. (Left) Installation view of Decoys, Complexes, and Triggers: Feminism and Land Art in the 1970s featuring work by Alice Adams, Alice Aycock, Michelle Stuart, Jackie Winsor, and Suzanne Harris (Right) Michael Portnoy Untitled (Wawalk), 2008 Images c. 2008 SculptureCenter and the artists Photo: Jason Mandella Casino Ilinx “Director of Behavior” and performance artist since 1995, Portnoy’s long-standing investigation of the poetics of humor and the rules of communication and play, takes form in Casino Ilinx as a series of gambling tables and related sculptures.

Drawing on gambling’s roots in ritual and divination, Portnoy’s tables are constructed of high and low materials including wood, mirror, sand, felt, bone, brass, vinyl, and shell. Influenced by gaming devices from various cultures and times, Portnoy’s objects take on a life of their own. When activated by games, the stylized sculptural pieces trigger experimental and experiential situations for the study of human behavior. « Rules » are imparted through riddles and gestures interpreted by players of each game. The rules and language associated with each piece shift constantly, challenging the viewer’s interaction with individual objects leading to dysfunctional, intimate, and absurd situations. Portnoy explains, « the tables are supposed to be seductive, they appear like games that have been around for a long time for which no one was taught the rules. But the more closely you look, you see that the basic mechanisms of chance — the role of the dice — are compromised. You can’t roll the dice, at least not in the way you are used to. » Casino Ilinx is composed of a series of moments, surprises, dead ends, and trap doors. The viewer must negotiate sporadic performers, sculptures such as a rabid cube, a squirrel escort, and other opaque symbols and rules. Casino Ilinx will be activated by scheduled and intermittent performances and gaming sessions throughout the exhibition.

About SculptureCenter Founded by artists in 1928, SculptureCenter is a not-for-profit arts institution dedicated to experimental and innovative developments in contemporary sculpture. SculptureCenter commissions new work and presents exhibits by emerging and established, national and international artists. In 2001, SculptureCenter purchased a former trolley repair shop in Long Island City, Queens. This facility, designed by artist/designer Maya Lin, includes 6,000 square feet of interior exhibition space, offices, and outdoor exhibition space.

Alice Adams, Alice Aycock, Lynda Benglis, Agnes Denes, Jackie Ferrara, Suzanne Harris, Nancy Holt, Mary Miss, Michelle Stuart, Jackie Winsor Curated by Catherine Morris Michael Portnoy Casino Ilinx

Curated by Sarina Basta


On view through July 28, 2008 at SculptureCenter 44-19 Purves Street Long Island City, NY 11101


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