Ten female artists explores their sexual world and present in their work a new way to look over it. This exhibition analyses two generations and decades of female art.
The Orange County Museum of Art has organized a major traveling exhibition, Girls' Night Out , opening in Newport Beach, California, on September 14, 2003 and remaining on view through January 25, 2004. The exhibition presents groundbreaking photography and video by two generations of female artists who embrace a more evocative and poetic approach to female identity. Their work over the last decade shares themes such as youth culture, new notions of beauty, and a lyrical expression of the inner desires, dreams, and aspirations of their subjects.
The pioneering figures in Girls' Night Out are Eija-Liisa Ahtila (b. 1959, lives in Helsinki), Dorit Cypis (b. 1951, lives in Los Angeles), Rineke Dijkstra (b. 1959, lives in Amsterdam), and Sarah Jones (b. 1959, lives in London). Inspired by them and further exploring their line of inquiry are a new generation of artists: Elina Brotherus (b. 1972, lives in Paris), Katy Grannan (b. 1969, lives in New York City), Kelly Nipper (b. 1971, lives in Los Angeles), Daniela Rossell (b. 1973, lives in Mexico City), Shirana Shahbazi (b. 1974, lives in Zurich), and Salla TykkÃ¤ (b. 1973, lives in Helsinki).
The historical context for Girls' Night Out is found in the photography, film, and performance art of the 1970s and 1980s, which influenced these young women, who have nevertheless moved in another direction. While earlier artists dealt with social and political themes in their work through provocative satire or didacticism, the artists in Girls' Night Out employ very different approaches, creating work that is characterized by its subjectivity and directness of expression. They also share an interest in revitalizing such classical genres as portraiture (especially of young women in the passage from girlhood to adulthood), architectural spaces, and landscape. Formally rigorous and aesthetically resolved, this seemingly traditional imagery is imbued with mystery, complexity, and in some work, even a romantic quality.
As OCMA deputy director for programs and chief curator Elizabeth Armstrong writes in the introduction to the exhibition catalogue: "The artists in Girls' Night Out offer a multiplicity of glimpses into the personal and social spaces that we inhabit today â€¦ Their work confidently explores female identity without the need to challenge or critique feminine archetypes. Here the "girl" does not represent the feminine per se but instead embodies a vulnerability and at the same time a sense of unbounded potentiality that are essentially human."
Since the 1960s photography has played a critical role in the development of conceptual art, performance art, and other postmodern expressions. For artists today, photo-based work provides the key to formal, thematic, and broader cultural endeavors. Its widespread use comes naturally to a generation that has grown up with new media and, in many cases, the Internet, with their overwhelming instant access to information, documentation, and opinion. Likewise, photography and video lend themselves to exploration of female identity, one of the primary themes of the exhibition.
Central to Girls' Night Out is the idea of "the girl," which reflects another generational shift. In a culture in which significant gains in gender equity have been achieved, strict adherence to the feminist ideology of the past has given way to new portrayals of women. The artists in the exhibition focus on girls and women in self-conscious and transcendent moments irrespective of "political correctness."
This ongoing metamorphosis from girlhood to adulthood is at the core of the show. Writing about the image of "the girl" in contemporary visual culture, Girls' Night Out author Taru Elfving portrays her as a figure in a constant state of negotiation and fascination, veiling and unveiling. "This is the carefully guarded blind spot that the artists in Girls' Night Out also mobilize," she writes, "albeit through very distinct viewpoints, strategies, and spins."
Girls' Night Out is organized by Elizabeth Armstrong and OCMA Curator of Contemporary Art Irene Hofmann. A 136-page, full-color catalogue accompanying the exhibition includes essays by the exhibition curators as well as by Finnish art historian Taru Elfving and video and film scholar Bill Horrigan, curator of media arts at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio. The catalogue will be available in mid September for $29.95 from the OCMA Store and on the web at ocma.net. To order by phone call (714) 662-3366.
After its debut at OCMA, the exhibition will embark on a nationwide tour that will include the Contemporary Art Museum, Saint Louis (September 16 - December 31, 2005), and the Blaffer Gallery, the Art Museum of the University of Houston (January 21 - April 2, 2006).
OPENING WEEKEND EVENTS
Several events are planned for the opening weekend of the exhibition. On Saturday, September 13 from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m., a "Dialogue with the Artists" will be presented. Taru Elfving, Finnish art historian and catalogue contributor, will lead a discussion with several of the artists in the exhibition. There is no cost for this event but reservations are required. Call (949) 759-1122 ext. 218. A "Members-Only Opening Party" will begin later in the evening at 8:00 p.m. Museum memberships will be available for purchase at the event or by calling (949) 759-1122 ext. 212. The following day, Sunday, September 14 at 1:00 p.m., internationally acclaimed and featured artist Rineke Dijkstra will present an "Artist Lecture" in the Lyon Auditorium. Admission is $8 for members and seniors / $10 for the general public / $5 for students. The media is cordially invited to these events. Call Brian Langston at (949) 759-1122 ext. 207 for credentials.
Image: Salla TykkÃ¤, The Sickest One, 1997
Orange County Museum of Art
850 San Clemente Drive