Richard Saltoun and Karsten Schubert present the exhibition Taking Matters Into Our Own Hands. Rose English,
Rose Finn-Kelcey, Alexis Hunter and Carolee Schneemann. Taking as its title and starting point a statement by the pioneering British feminist artist Jo Spence, the exhibition focuses on major performance art made by women artists in the UK during the 1970s.
The exhibition looks at some of the key performances made by these artists at a time when performance was considered a new art form and one which could be claimed as a territory for feminist art. Some of the works will not have been seen since their first staging. The exhibition will include photographs, film, and performance material.
Until very recently little attention had been paid to contemporary female artists practicing during this turbulent social and political period of history. Rose English, Rose Finn-Kelcey, Alexis Hunter, and Carolee Schneemann, all working in London at the time, focused on the body, specifically the female form and its performative ability.
Schneemann and Finn-Kelcey were included in Out of Actions: Between Performance and the Object 1949-1979, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1998). English, Hunter and Schneemann were recently included in the exhibition WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2007).
Quadrille; English's 1975 performance staged in the dressage arena during a horse show in Southampton, England. It involved six women dressed as horses (in tunics, horse hoof high-heels, and with horse tails), acting out the ritual of a dressage.
Domestic Warfare; Hunter's 1978 staging of a seemingly picturesque evening of marital bliss, which rapidly turns sour and violent, composed originally as a set of one hundred and sixty slides. Performed in private, the work was staged by paid actors under the direction of the artist.
One for Sorrow, Two for Joy; Finn-Kelcey's performance with two magpies, staged over two days and nights, was viewed by the audience through the gallery window from the street. The performance was a direct response to Beuys' habitation with a coyote, I Love America, America Loves Me. Finn-Kelcey meticulously studied the language of the magpies and imitated them during the performance.
Ices Strip; During a train ride from London to Edinburgh, hurtling at 133kph, Schneemann strips off naked and roller skates though the trains carriages whilst reciting from Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.
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