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Art in the City: I Am (Wo)man

Carpenter Center shows work from five female artists

Amidst daily city traffic, a woman stands, emotionless, holding a hand-made sign with the words “I AM A MAN” written in bold. The image described is part of “In the Near Future” by Sharon Hayes, one of six works in a Carpenter Center exhibition entitled “Two or Three Things I Know About Her.”

The show, up through April 6, was inspired by Jean-Luc Godard’s influential 1966 film, “Two or Three Things I Know About Her.” Each of the featured artists—Moyra Davey, Sharon Hayes, K8 Hardy, Wynne Greenwood, and Ulrike Muller­—take a contemporary feminist approach to exploring the urban spaces of contemporary New York City. “Two or Three Things” features a variety of media, from photography to video and audio recordings. The sarcastic newscast “New Report” by K8 Hardy and Wynne Greenwood makes use of this mixed media, as does “One of Us” by Ulrike Muller, which features only a red curtain and headphones.

Moyra Davey’s “50 Minutes” is a profound contribution to the broader notion of the mundane that runs through the show. The documentary’s subject matter and camera work are raw: the video twirls and dizzies the viewer, providing a physical sensation of spontaneity, while Davey delivers a 50-minute monologue about her psychoanalysis sessions, the art of photography and reading, and nostalgia. The camera moves between subjects as quickly as the human eye.

The previously-mentioned “In the Near Future” by Sharon Hayes consists of a series of projected images. Hayes stands in various locations in New York City that have been home to political and civil demonstrations in the past, while the hand-drawn protest signs she holds in her hands invoke their spirit. The photos establish a triangle between the photographer, the protestor (Hayes), and the onlookers, bringing attention to the importance of individual protest. Diving into the landscape of the urban city, Hayes is surrounded by the city traffic, ignored by passersby. The solitary Hayes stands apart from the routine rush, a single protestor where there were once many.

Comically exaggerated, K8 Hardy’s and Wynne Greenwood’s “New Report Artist Unknown,” comes in the form of a news telecast. “Reporting” on the mysterious lack of art created by women, the work is an unrelenting push for an increased female presence in contemporary art as K8 Hardy goes into the city, searching for art by females, only to finally find it in a trash can.

“Two or Three Things I Know About Her” is described as discussing sexuality, freedom and urban space in a post-9/11 New York City. Yet though the lecture given by Catherine Lord heavily emphasized the importance of the works coming from a predominantly lesbian perspective, it is the importance placed on the jarring intersection of protest and the individual, in the middle of city traffic, that resonates most.
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