Female artists, and those
of older generations, steal the show at this year’s Frieze Art Fair. Many
of these artists found their voices back in the ’60s and ’70s, when Betty
Friedan’s Feminist Mystique had barely arrived on the bookshelves, but
the battle, some would argue, is far from over, and female artists undervalued
by history continue to emerge today. Connie Butler’s 2007 show “Wack! Art and
the Feminist Revolution”at MOCA and MoMA PS1 represented a revisionist
approach to the participation of women in the avant-garde art movements of the
late 20th century, and at Frieze, several booths give a taste of this
Leading the charge, Elizabeth
and Anke Kempkes of Broadway 1602, whose
galleries both have firm roots in feminist histories, collaborate on a booth
that features a selection of women artists from their respective programs.
Among them is the Brazilian visual poet and conceptual artist
, with a background in linguistics, whose photographic body art
(1979) suggests the violations wrought on the female body
through language—in the form of a female tongue ensnared in the grips of a
typewriter. Alongside De Barros and others,
, a key figure of the European women’s movement shows Kalender
a major feminist work originally commissioned by the Swiss Feminist advocacy
group in Basel, featuring twelve designs resembling each month of 1979—the same
year that the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination
against Women (CEDAW) was adopted internationally.
Elsewhere, in the FOCUS
section, Espaivisor homes in on the work of Croatian artist
, whose powerful performances, videos, installations, and
actions—often comprising bold explorations into the politics of images and the
body—have captivated audiences since the 1970s. She presents Invisible Women
, focusing on females who have been erased from history and probing the
representation of women in mass media, as well as and personal/collective
references to Europe’s historical memory. At Wilkinson
, the pioneering and
influential performance and video artist
—known for ritualistic forays into costuming, and female identity
and eroticism, and notably, the U.S. representative at the 2015 Venice
Biennale—gets the spotlight with a presentation of her performance drawings.
Meanwhile, over at James
, a founding member of the
movement, takes the stand. The contribution of female artists to
Fluxus was invaluable and unprecedented, and Knowles’s performance and
sculptural works—incorporating tactile, aural, and social elements, or made
with ephemeral materials such as flax, beans, and found objects—are a striking
conduit through which that history emerges at Frieze. Perhaps the most direct
homage to the women’s movement, Freymond-Guth shows a monumental painting A.I.R.
(1977) by the late Sylvia Sleigh, a group portrait of members of the
A.I.R. gallery, the United States’s first collective gallery run by women.
Among its subjects are founders
, Howardena Pindell, and Mary Beth Edelson—heros of the feminist
art movement whose works continue to subvert, provoke, and inspire to this day.