Museum  June 22, 2018  Anita Bateman

“Multiply, Identify, Her” Presents an Intersectional Look at Identity

© Mickalene Thomas, Courtesy the artist and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Mickalene Thomas, "Angelitos Negros (detail)," 2016.

An exhibition that defies patriarchal modes of looking, Multiply, Identify, Her is currently on view at the International Center of Photography. Curated by Marina Chao, who was inspired by late photographer and Chicana feminist Laura Aguilar, the exhibition assembles portrait, photo collage, and video among other digital media. A clear lineage exists between this show—which features ten women artists—and subversive spaces like New York’s Artists in Residence (A.I.R.) Gallery, started in 1972 to remedy the under-representation and exclusion of female artists by commercial galleries and museums. Multiply, Identify, Her also joins the rank of artivist (a portmanteau of art and activist) exhibitions (think WACK!: Art and the Feminist Revolution (2007) and We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-85 (2017)) that recognize and champion the impact of feminist art and artists of color on the public sphere.

© Lorna Simpson, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

Lorna Simpson, "Blue Wave," 2011. The Studio Museum in Harlem; gift of the artist on the occasion of the Romare Bearden (1911–1988) Centennial and the Bearden Project.

Against the limitations of physical bodies, technology plays a notable role in the organization of the show. “Transcending the singular, unified self is a psychological and political aspiration—to appear in all the disparate ways that we are—as well as a future, technology-enabled reality. The artists brought together here create a space in which the feeling of longing for other possibilities of being and being seen is made palpable”, says Chao. The result are pieces that transgress codified inter- and intra-personal relationships. For instance, artist Stephanie Dinkins has recorded her interaction with Bina48, an advanced robot, to explore the edges of consciousness and transhumanism.

© Stephanie Dinkins, Courtesy the artist

Stephanie Dinkins, "Conversations with Bina48," 2014−ongoing.

In "Press and Outline," a 16mm silent film, Gina Osterloh attempts to trace her own shadow. Over the course of the video, the viewer becomes acutely aware of Osterloh’s self-perception as a person contending with both bodied and disembodied presence. 

© Gina Osterloh, Courtesy the artist, Ghebaly Gallery, Los Angeles; Higher Pictures, New York; and Silverlens, Manila.

Gina Osterloh, "Press and Outline," 2014.

As the white cube continues to break down the predominance of the white male, shows that center marginalized, yet pioneering, voices begin to hit closer to the proverbial mark in identifying diverse perspectives. (Close, but no cigar, as the show does not include work by transgender women.) This illustrious lineup of works by Geta Brătescu, Stephanie Dinkins, Christina Fernandez, Barbara Hammer, Roni Horn, Wangechi Mutu, Gina Osterloh, Sondra Perry, Lorna Simpson, and Mickalene Thomas will be mounted until September 2nd.

About the Author

Anita Bateman

Anita N. Bateman is the Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow in the Prints, Drawings, and Photographs department at RISD Museum and a PhD candidate in Art History at Duke University. She specializes in modern and contemporary African art and art of the African diaspora. Her interests include the history of photography, social justice art, curatorial studies/museum studies, and intersectional feminism (womanism).

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