April 13-July 22, 2018
Since the opening of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art in 2007, the Brooklyn Museum in New York has advocated for the advancement of feminist art movements. Dedicating its fourth floor to the sole purpose of educating its public in feminist art, theory, and activism, it has permanently housed Judy Chicago’s iconic The Dinner Party (1979) as well as over thirty-five temporary exhibitions, with the clear intention of broadening the scope of artistic discourse. It is also the most recent host to the exhibition Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960–1985. Co-curated by Cecilia Fajardo-Hill and Andrea Giunta, the exhibition was first organized by the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Bringing together more than one hundred and twenty Latin American, Latina, and Latinx artists representing fifteen countries, Radical Women provides a crucial overview of the historical and contemporary relevance of pioneer artists and collectives as they evolved during a watershed period of political upheaval and social change in the Americas.
The women in the exhibition — representing the avant-garde of performance, video, photography, and conceptual art — address a lacuna within dominant twentieth-century art discourse perpetuated by colonial and gendered biases. Divided into eight thematic sections — The Self Portrait, Body Landscape, Performing the Body, Mapping the Body, Resistance and Fear, The Power of Words, Social Spaces, and The Erotic — Radical Women is rich with strongly individualized, material-based and conceptual approaches to social, political, and aesthetic issues. Beyond the eight thematic groupings, one small gallery includes a map of the Americas and a chronological list outlining relevant events in each country represented in the exhibition. With all of its ambition to feature and organize a wide range of artists, Radical Women offers few, if no, moments of repose, choosing instead to occupy every available space with an object or wall text. Although the encyclopedic nature of the exhibition might seem necessary to rectify the historical omissions it seeks to address, it proves to be limiting. In fact, sometimes it is difficult to decipher the interwoven subplots that link works with their respective artists and the particular contexts, countries, and/or years of production.