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Indepth Arts News:

"Bonds of Love: A Project by Lisa Kirk"
2005-08-18 until 2005-09-24
John Connelly Presents
New York, NY, USA United States of America

Bonds of Love is an all female-artist exhibition curated by Lisa Kirk and created specifically for John Connelly Presents. Kirk’s project includes work by Laura Anderson Barbata, Fiona Banner, Anne Collier, Camille Norment, Tara Mateik, Josephine Meckseper, Marilyn Minter, Aleksandra Mir, Kati Heck, Laura Parnes, Maria E. Piñeres, Goody-B.Wiseman, and Sherry Wong and catalogue and texts by Lia Gangitano, Chris Kraus, Shelley Marlow and Lisa Jaye Young.

Interestingly enough, when we do succeed in reaching that enhanced state of awareness, it is often in a context of sharpened awareness of others of their unique particularity and independent existence. The reciprocal relationship between self and other can be compared with the optical illusion in which the figure and ground are constantly changing in relation even as their outlines remain clearly distinct — as in Escher's birds, which appear to fly in both directions. What makes the drawings visually difficult is a parallel to what makes the idea of self-other reciprocity conceptually difficult: the drawing asks us to look two ways simultaneously, quite in opposition to our usual sequential orientation […]. Although this requires a rather laborious intellectual reconstruction, intuitively, the paradoxical tension of this way and that way "feels right."

-Jessica Benjamin, The Bonds of Love, psychoanalysis, feminism, and the problem of domination (New York: Pantheon Books, 1988):26.

Inspired by Jessica Benjamin’s book The Bonds of Love, Kirk’s Bonds of Love investigates the historically problematic construction of the all-women exhibition. If one would like to raise some resistance to the fact that exhibitions excluding women [ie: Today’s Man, John Connelly Presents 2003] are rarely met with any question or stigma at all. This "sharpened awareness" of the "independent existence" of exhibitions delineated by traditional gender categories (all-male, all-female), and their reception (loaded, in the case of all-female; or ambivalent, in the case of all-male) is also part of Kirk's project.

That an exhibition of women artists is tacitly presumed as a feminist project—while not necessarily a bad thing, is simply not always accurate. This type of exhibition making, however, does tend to force the question: are you, or aren't you, a "feminist"--a question many women artists have tired of answering, as being a feminist, or making feminist art, are not even one in the same. Bonds of Love, perhaps, is just asking, in 2005, why.

Can Bonds of Love be something more than an all-women exhibition occurring in a predominantly male gallery? This resolute and awkwardly placed question furthers Kirk's unabashed infiltration into to the social and cultural domain of exhibition-making--confronting its misimpressions head-on by assembling a diverse group of artists who each, in their own way, present experience-based works that demand consideration of the viewer’s role in supplying the answer--exposing the limits of active/passive spectatorship.

Marilyn Minter,
Vomit, 2004

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