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ecofeminism(s) curated by Monika Fabijanska (Works)

Selected Works

Installation view of ecofeminism(s), left to right: Andrea Bowers, Helène Aylon, Eliza Evans, Sonya Kelliher-Combs, Hanae Utamura, Betsy Damon, Aviva Rahmani. Courtesy of Thomas Erben Gallery, New York, June/July 2020 ecofeminism(s) curated by Monika Fabijanska
Andrea Bowers (American, b. 1965) Feminist Spirituality and Magical Politics Scrapbook, 2003 Photocopy on paper, 33 1/4 x 42 3/4 in (84.5 x 108.5 cm) Courtesy of the artist and Andrew Kreps Gallery.
Eco-feminism plays an important role in the work of Andrea Bowers', a tree sitter herself. A key aspect of her art is creating and protecting the records of activism, often ousted from the official annals, just like the history of women. Feminist Spirituality and Magical Politics Scrapbook (2003) belongs to the series Magical Politics, where she analyzed the spiritual roots of pioneer ecofeminist activists and memorialized their acts of civil disobedience, such as the 1980 Women’s Pentagon Action, or 1981 Mothers of Peace’ protest at the Diablo Nuclear Power Plant. ecofeminism(s) curated by Monika Fabijanska
Helène Aylon (American, 1931-2020) The Earth Ambulance, 1982 ©Helène Aylon. Courtesy Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects.
Helène Aylon tied the politics of war, which affects both human life and the environment, to the roots of our civilization in patriarchal religious systems. The Earth Ambulance carried pillowcases with earth “rescued” from fourteen selected SAC (Strategic Air Command) military bases across the country, from Berkeley to New York’s mass demonstration during SALT disarmament talks at the United Nations. Aimed at “confrontation and surveillance” at SACs, Aylon’s activist art involved ritual (“performance ceremonials”) and the collaboration of thirteen women. At the UN, they carried used army stretchers with the pillowcases, and emptied the earth into containers across the street from the UN. ecofeminism(s) curated by Monika Fabijanska
Helène Aylon, The Earth Ambulance (detail), 1982. Text panel, Inkjet pigment print, 11 x 8-1/2 in (sheet) ©Estate of Helène Aylon, Courtesy Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects ecofeminism(s) curated by Monika Fabijanska
Installation view of ecofeminism(s), left to right: Eliza Evans, Sonya Kelliher-Combs, Hanae Utamura, Betsy Damon, Aviva Rahmani, and Jessica Segall. Courtesy of Thomas Erben Gallery, New York, June/July 2020 ecofeminism(s) curated by Monika Fabijanska
Eliza Evans (American) All the Way to Hell, 2020-ongoing Mineral rights, law, bureaucracy, size: 3 acres x 4,000 miles (depth). Edition: 1,000 mineral properties ©2020 Eliza Evans. Courtesy of the artist.
Eliza Evans offers the mineral rights to 3 acres of her land in Creek County, Oklahoma, for sale to 1,000 people, in order to prevent fossil fuel development in the area. In the vein of Agnes Denes’ 1992 project Tree Mountain – A Living Time Capsule – 11,000 Trees, 11,000 People, 400 Years realized in Finland, Evans’ All the Way to Hell (2020-ongoing) offers us the opportunity to participate and the responsibility to make change. The project consists of actual mineral deeds for buyers and an installation. ecofeminism(s) curated by Monika Fabijanska
Eliza Evans (American) All the Way to Hell, 2020-ongoing Mineral rights, law, bureaucracy, size: 3 acres x 4,000 miles (depth). Edition: 1,000 mineral properties ©2020 Eliza Evans. Courtesy of the artist ecofeminism(s) curated by Monika Fabijanska
Sonya Kelliher-Combs (Native American, b. 1969) Mark, Polar Bear, 2019 Acrylic polymer, polar bear fur, fabric flag, metal brackets, 40 x 65 in ©2019 Sonya Kelliher-Combs. Courtesy of the artist and Minus Space.
With Mark, Polar Bear (2019), Sonya Kelliher-Combs honors the traditions of her people, Iñupiaq from the North Slope of Alaska and Athabascan from the Interior, and makes a damning comment on the American abuse of Alaska. ecofeminism(s) curated by Monika Fabijanska
Hanae Utamura (Japanese, b. 1980) Secret Performance Series, 2010-2013 HD Video, 19:70 min. looped Edition of 3 + 1AP + 1EP ©2010 Hanae Utamura. Courtesy of the artist Wiping the Sahara Desert, 2010, 1:04 min, Sahara Desert, Tunisia Casting the Wave, 2010, 1:03 min, Den Haag, The Netherlands Splashing Water at Sahara Desert, 2010, 2:26 min, Sahara Desert, Tunisia Scrubbing the Edge of Salt Lake, 2010, 00:45 min, Chott el Djerid, Tunisia Surrender: Practice for Unconditional Love, 2010, 4:30 min, Leyton Marsh, London Snow Balloon, 2011, 1:29 min, Hämeenkyrö, Finland Red Line, 2011, 1:42 min, Dover, England Wiping the Snow, 2011, 1:45 min, Haukijärvi, Finland When a Line Becomes a Circle, 2013, 6:46 min, Baengnyeongdo Island, South Korea
Ritual at the sites of nuclear contamination, and in landscapes generally, plays a special role in the art of Hanae Utamura who was born 80 miles from the Fukushima plant, a daughter of a scientist involved in the research of nuclear power generation. Utamura explores the connection between humans and earth using her physical body as a conduit. The central focus of her practice is the negotiation between nature and civilization, specifically, the relationship between man, science, and nature. By decentralizing human perspective, she enters the imagination of nature. In Secret Performance Series (2010-2013), the artist’s petite figure performs rituals in open landscapes some of which seem to be Sisyphean acts of taming nature; where nature itself is the main doer. ecofeminism(s) curated by Monika Fabijanska
Installation view of Betsy Damon, The Memory of Clean Water, 1985 ©Betsy Damon. Courtesy of the artist. ecofeminism(s) curated by Monika Fabijanska
Betsy Damon (American, b. 1940) The Memory of Clean Water, 1985 ©Betsy Damon. Courtesy of the artist.
Betsy Damon’s motivation for her large public projects, like Living Water Garden in Chengdu, China (1998), a six-acre city park created to educate and demonstrate how water can clean itself through the use of natural processes. The Memory of Clean Water (1985), a cast of a dry riverbed in Utah in paper pulp, memorializing a river before it was dammed, was her pivotal work. Damon, active in 1970s in New York as a performance artist, whose work was strongly influenced by spiritual feminism and healing rituals, devoted her subsequent practice to public space projects focused on decontaminating waters. ecofeminism(s) curated by Monika Fabijanska
Aviva Rahmani (American, b. 1945) Physical Education, 1973 Performance documentation: slide projection with instructions. ©Aviva Rahmani. Courtesy of the artist.
PHYSICAL EDUCATION (1973) 1. Each person takes a plastic baggie and a plastic spoon. Performers go to a water fountain or sink in an institution. Fill the baggie half full of fresh water and seal it. Drive to the ocean. Stop three times en route. At each stop leave a teaspoon of the fresh water from the baggie at the side of the road and replace it each time with a teaspoon of earth from the site. Reseal the baggie and continue driving. 2. At the ocean, get out of the car and find some very dry sand. Pour the earth and water mixture out onto the dry sand. Walk to the water and refill the baggie half full with seawater and seal it. Return to the car. Drive back to the original institution. Stop three times en route at the side of the road. Leave behind a teaspoon of seawater and gather a teaspoon of earth to replace the seawater in the baggie. Reseal the baggie each time. 3. On returning to the institution, take the baggie to a bathroom. Pour the remaining seawater and arable soil mixture down the bathroom toilet. Flush the toilet. Discard the plastic spoon. Discard the baggie. Variation: use a special spoon to transfer the mixtures of earth and water. Keep the spoon. ecofeminism(s) curated by Monika Fabijanska
Installation view of ecofeminism(s), left to right: Andrea Bowers, Helène Aylon, Eliza Evans, Jessica Segall, Sonya Kelliher-Combs, Lynn Hershman Leeson, and Hanae Utamura. Courtesy of Thomas Erben Gallery, New York, June/July 2020. ecofeminism(s) curated by Monika Fabijanska
Jessica Segall (American) Fugue in B Flat, 2016 piano, honeybees, audio, approx. 5' x 4' x 1' ©2016 Jessica Segall. Courtesy of the artist ecofeminism(s) curated by Monika Fabijanska
Jessica Segall (American) A Thirsty Person, Having Found a Spring, Stops to Drink, Does Not Contemplate Its Beauty, 2011 Performance / video still, Archival Print, size. Edition 3 and AP ©2011 Jessica Segall. Courtesy of the artist.
Segall’s performances often involve perceived danger and propose tools for survival or provoke ideas for environmental conservation – a mourning ritual, A Thirsty Person, Having Found a Spring, Stops to Drink, Does Not Contemplate Its Beauty (2011), took place at the Global Seed Vault on the island of Spitsbergen. ecofeminism(s) curated by Monika Fabijanska
Lynn Hershman Leeson (American, b. 1941) Twisted Gravity, 2020 Photography, etched plastic, AquaPulse, LED lights, polluted water being filtered, electricity, GMO bacteria or waxworms, petri dishes, Plexiglas casing; size variable. Edition 3 + 1 AP Lynn Hershman Leeson in collaboration with Dr. Thomas Huber, Technology Leader and Head of Antibody Research at Novartis Institute for BioMedical Research; Dr. Richard Novak, Senior Staff Engineer, Advanced Technology Team at Harvard University Wyss Institute for Biological-Inspired Engineering and Aqua Pulse Technology; Lab Team: Elizabeth Calamari, Martinez Flores, Manuel Ramses.Originally commissioned by Margot Norton, The New Museum ©Hotwire Productions LLC 2020.
Lynn Hershman Leeson, acclaimed for the pioneering use of new technologies, is an artist who “lives” in the future. In Twisted Gravity (2020), being developed at Harvard University, she engages with the latest in applied science – a revolutionary off-the-grid water filter able to kill bacteria and degrade plastic through electricity (Aqua Pulse) and by using waxworms to digest plastic (Evolution). The project grows out of her early feminist works that examined woman’s perpetual transformation and survival – Roberta Breitmore (1974–78) and Water Women (since 1978). In the new work, the idea of survival through change meets the feminist interest in change as a life cycle. The filter’s action is made visible when purification cycle sends light through the body of Water Woman, etched in a transparent plate. She “comes alive” the moment bacteria are killed and plastic disappears. ecofeminism(s) curated by Monika Fabijanska
Lynn Hershman Leeson (American, b. 1941) Twisted Gravity, 2020 Photography, etched plastic, AquaPulse, LED lights, polluted water being filtered, electricity, GMO bacteria or waxworms, petri dishes, Plexiglas casing; size variable. Edition 3 + 1 AP Lynn Hershman Leeson in collaboration with Dr. Thomas Huber, Technology Leader and Head of Antibody Research at Novartis Institute for BioMedical Research; Dr. Richard Novak, Senior Staff Engineer, Advanced Technology Team at Harvard University Wyss Institute for Biological-Inspired Engineering and Aqua Pulse Technology; Lab Team: Elizabeth Calamari, Martinez Flores, Manuel Ramses.Originally commissioned by Margot Norton, The New Museum ©Hotwire Productions LLC 2020 ecofeminism(s) curated by Monika Fabijanska
Installation view of ecofeminism(s), left to right: Carla Maldonado, Mary Mattingly, Cecilia Vicuña, and Bilge Friedlaender. Courtesy of Thomas Erben Gallery, New York, June/July 2020. ecofeminism(s) curated by Monika Fabijanska
Carla Maldonado (Brasilian, b. 1986) Dystopia of a Jungle City, and the Human of Nature, 2019 Digital video with sound, 31 min. Edition of 3 + AC In collaboration with Cipiá Indigenous Community Center, Manaus, AM, Brazil ©2019 Carla Maldonado. Courtesy of the artist.
The film Dystopia of a Jungle City, and the Human of Nature (2019) by Carla Maldonado is a haunting ode to the daily life of indigenous people in fragile harmony with nature, and an alarming call for action against the far-right regime of Jair Bolsonaro, which aggressively attacked the laws protecting the Amazon Jungle and its people. ecofeminism(s) curated by Monika Fabijanska
Mary Mattingly (American, b. 1978) Swale, 2017 Archival Pigment Print, 30 x 30 in. Edition 1/5 ©Mary Mattingly. Courtesy of Cloudfactory and Robert Mann Gallery ecofeminism(s) curated by Monika Fabijanska
Mary Mattingly, Microsphere: A Breathed Commune, 2012. Archival Pigment Print, 30 x 30 in. Edition 4/5 ©Mary Mattingly. Courtesy of Robert Mann Gallery ecofeminism(s) curated by Monika Fabijanska
Mary Mattingly, Life of Objects, 2013. Archival Pigment Print, 30 x 30 in. Edition 5/5 ©Mary Mattingly. Courtesy of Robert Mann Gallery ecofeminism(s) curated by Monika Fabijanska
Mary Mattingly, The Damned (Titian, again), 2013. Archival Pigment Print, 30 x 30 in. Edition 2/5 ©Mary Mattingly. Courtesy of Robert Mann Gallery ecofeminism(s) curated by Monika Fabijanska
Installation view of ecofeminism(s), left to right: Mary Mattingly, Cecilia Vicuña, Bilge Friedlaender, and Ana Mendieta. Courtesy of Thomas Erben Gallery, New York, June/July 2020 ecofeminism(s) curated by Monika Fabijanska
Cecilia Vicuña (Chilean, b. 1948) Bola de cable (Precarios), 2014 mixed media, 5.75 x 6 x 4.675 in (14.6 x 15.2 x 11.9 cm) Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, and Seoul ecofeminism(s) curated by Monika Fabijanska
Cecilia Vicuña (Chilean, b. 1948) Tres elementos (Precarios), 2014 mixed media, 6.875 x 5.75 x 0.25 in (17.5 x 14.6 x 0.6 cm) Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, and Seoul
The unique oeuvre of Cecilia Vicuña is grounded in her understanding that the political, environmental and indigenous are inherently connected and must be addressed as such. In her vision, the object is merely the tangible manifestation of our will to return to being one with nature. Her precarios (1966-present), tiny arrangements of natural and man-made materials such as driftwood, feathers, yarn, or wires, combine ritual and assemblage. According to the artist, they belong to the oceans from which many of their parts were collected and will not be fully complete until they return to the sea. ecofeminism(s) curated by Monika Fabijanska
Cecilia Vicuña (Chilean, b. 1948) Untitled (Precarios), Date tbd mixed media, 12 x 34.25 x 0.125 in (30.5 x 87 x 0.3 cm) Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, and Seoul ecofeminism(s) curated by Monika Fabijanska
Ana Mendieta, Bacayu (Esculturas Rupestres) [Light of Day (Rupestrian Sculptures)], 1981/2019. Black and white photograph, 40 x 55 in (101.6 x 139.7 cm). Edition 2 of 3 with 2 AP © The Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection, LLC. Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co. ecofeminism(s) curated by Monika Fabijanska
Barbara Kruger (American, b. 1945) Untitled (We Won’t Play Nature to Your Culture), 1983 Book cover, 11.82 x 8.27 x 0.2 in (30 x 21 x 0.5 cm) Softcover catalogue of the exhibition, Barbara Kruger: We Won’t Play Nature to Your CultureAuthors: Barbara Kruger, Iwona Blazwick, Sandy Nairne, Craig Owens, Jane Weinstock Publishers: London: Institute of Contemporary Arts, Basel: Kunsthalle ©1983.
Historically, ecofeminism was marked by the struggle with patriarchal dualism between culture (a notion almost tantamount to civilization and progress) and nature; the dualism inseparable from the issue of gender roles. One response was Goddess art, aimed at reclaiming Herstory and the creator as a female, and at empowering women by asserting their connection with nature, yet the essence of the fight of early feminists may have best been expressed on the witty and perfectly aimed cover of Barbara Kruger’s exhibition catalog, We Won’t Play Our Nature to Your Culture (ICA London, 1983). ecofeminism(s) curated by Monika Fabijanska

Andrea Bowers, Helène Aylon, Eliza Evans, Sonya Kelliher-Combs, Hanae Utamura, Betsy Damon, Aviva Rahmani, Jessica Segall, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Bilge Friedlaender, Carla Maldonado, Mary Mattingly, Cecilia Vicuña, Barbara Kruger, Agnes Denes

ecofeminism(s) curated by Monika Fabijanska
June 19 - July 24 & September 8 - 26, 2020

ecofeminism(s) curated by Monika Fabijanska Press Release

Thomas Erben Gallery is thrilled to present the exhibition ecofeminism(s) curated by Monika Fabijanska. The exhibition will take place in the physical space of the gallery but no public opening is planned due to COVID-19 regulations. It will be open to the public from June 17. However, if it needs to be postponed due to state and city orders, we will send an update We are inviting you for a press day to view the exhibition on June 16, noon to 6pm, when the curator and some artists will be present to answer questions, with social distancing rules observed. The exhibition will be accompanied by a curator’s essay and public programming online, including artist talks and a gallery walk through.

ecofeminism(s) explores the legacy of some of the pioneers of ecofeminist art: Helène Aylon, Betsy Damon, Agnes Denes, Bilge Friedlaender, Ana Mendieta, Aviva Rahmani, and Cecilia Vicuña, and how their ideas and strategies are continued, developed or opposed by the young generation – Andrea Bowers, Eliza Evans, Sonya Kelliher-Combs, Carla Maldonado, Mary Mattingly, Jessica Segall, and Hanae Utamura. It also features the ecofeminist works of Lynn Hershman Leeson and Barbara Kruger, who escape these categories.

The historical perspective gained over the last fifty years reveals how revolutionary the work of pioneer feminist artists was, and how relevant it remains, whether for women’s rights or the development of social practice. The most remarkable, however, is their voice regarding humanity’s relationship to nature. The foundation of ecofeminism is spiritual feminism, which insists that everything is connected – that nature does not discriminate between soul and matter. Their recognition that Western patriarchal philosophy and religions have served to exploit both women and nature is particularly resonant in the era of the #MeToo Movement and Climate Change. But if the ecofeminist art of the 1970s and 1980s was largely defined by Goddess art, ritual performance, anti-nuclear work, and ecological land art – the curator poses the question – what makes female environmental artists, working today, ecofeminists?

Since the 1970s, ecofeminism evolved from gender essentialism to understanding gender as a social construct – to gender performativity. But today’s feminists still address the degradation of the environment by creating diverse responses to patriarchal power structure, capitalism, and the notion of progress. They invoke indigenous traditions in maintaining connection to nature and intensify the critique of colonialist politics of overextraction, water privatization, and the destruction of native peoples. They continue to employ social practice and activism, but focus on denouncing global corporate strategies and designing futuristic proposals for life on earth.

Ecofeminist art emerged in the late 1960s when the development of conceptual art, spiritual feminism, and the exclusion of women from the art market pushed their inventiveness far beyond the limitations of painting and classical art gallery presentation, and led to creating new mediums, driving art into new territories. In consequence, ecofeminism is one of the richest hidden caches of contemporary art. It is art that delights the eye, provokes the mind, and can inspire change. It also restores art’s function to what it was before the Enlightenment, when both science and art were tools to understand the world and propose solutions.

ecofeminism(s) presents many early gems of ecofeminist art, some of which have not been shown in decades, including Cedar Forest (1989), handmade paper sculptures by minimalist feminist artist Bilge Friedlaender (1934-2000), which comment on the myth of Gilgamesh cutting the sacred cedar forest; The Earth Ambulance (1982) by one of the most original ecofeminist artists, pro-peace and anti-nuclear activist, Helène Aylon (1931-2020), which carried earth “rescued” from military nuclear bases across the country; Physical Education (1973) by Aviva Rahmani (b. 1945) from her earliest, experimental body of work created as part of the early California performance scene; and The Memory of Clean Water (1985), a breakthrough work for Betsy Damon (b. 1940), where she cast a dry riverbed.

The show also presents the latest ecofeminist artworks that are literally being made now. In the project created especially for this exhibition, Eliza Evans offers the mineral rights to 3 acres of her land in Oklahoma for sale to 1,000 people, in order to prevent fossil fuel development in the area. ecofeminism(s) also features diagrams for the newest project of Lynn Hershman Leeson (b. 1941), to premiere at her exhibition at the New Museum in 2021. Twisted Gravity engages with the latest in applied science – a revolutionary off-the-grid water filter able to kill bacteria and degrade plastic. In this new work, the idea of survival through change meets the feminist interest in change as a life cycle.

About the Curator: Monika Fabijanska is an art historian and curator who specializes in women’s and feminist art. Her critically acclaimed exhibition, The Un-Heroic Act: Representations of Rape in Women’s Contemporary Art in the U.S. at Shiva Gallery, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY (with catalog) was ranked the fifth best NYC art show in 2018 by Hyperallergic. Fabijanska initiated the idea and provided curatorial consulting for The Museum of Modern Art acquisition and retrospective exhibition of Polish feminist sculptor Alina Szapocznikow (2012).

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ecofeminism(s) Exhibition Walk-through
with curator Monika Fabijanska.

ecofeminism(s): Zoom Conversations – Part I | moderated by curator Monika Fabijanska

ecofeminism(s): Zoom Conversations – Part II | moderated by curator Monika Fabijanska

ecofeminism(s): Zoom Conversations – Part III | moderated by curator Monika Fabijanska

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