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Symposium // What the Feminist Body Wants + Explicit About What?

  • Skowhegan NY Program Space 136 West 22nd Street New York, NY, 10011 United States (map)

What the Feminist Body Wants

Featuring A.K. Burns, Jack HalberstamXandra Ibarra, and Julie Tolentino, moderated by Natasha Marie Llorens

This panel will try to extend Ellen’s critical perspective on sexually explicit material to the present, or to contextualize her contribution in reverse. The discussion will address the different stakes of visibility for normative vs. non-normative sexualities.

A.K. Burns

A.K. Burns is an interdisciplinary artist and educator living in Brooklyn, NY. A 2016-17 Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard University, and resident in the Spring 2017 Research & Development Season at the New Museum, Burns is developing a cycle of multi-media installations that use speculative fiction as a point of departure. The opening episode, A Smeary Spot, debut in 2015 at Participant Inc, NY and is currently installed at Portland Institute for Contemporary Art. This fall she also released an experimental sound project and poem, Leave No Trace at TBA Festival. The feature-length socio-sexual video portrait, Community Action Center, 2010 created in collaboration with A.L. Steiner, has screened internationally including at the Tate Modern and MoMA. Burns maintains an ongoing collaboration with Katherine Hubbard, staging The Poetry Parade…, a series of live literary intervention at The Whitney, The Met, and The MoMA. Additionally Burns is a founding member of W.A.G.E (Working Artists in the Great Economy).

Xandra Ibarra

Xandra Ibarra is an Oakland-based performance artist from the El Paso/Juarez border who performs and works under the alias of La Chica Boom. Ibarra uses hyperbolized modes of racialization and sexualization to test the boundaries between her own body and coloniality, compulsory whiteness, and Mexicanidad. Her practice integrates performance, sex acts, and burlesque with video, photography, and objects. Throughout her multiple works, she teeters between abjection and joy and problematizes the borders between proper and improper racial, gender, and queer subject.
Ibarra’s work has been featured at El Museo de Arte Contemporañeo (Bogotá, Colombia), The Broad Museum (LA, USA), Popa Gallery (Buenos Aires, Argentina), Joe’s Pub (NYC), El Vicio (Mexico), and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (SF) to name a few.  Recent residencies include Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture, National Performance Network, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, and CounterPulse.  She has been awarded the Yerba Buena Arts Away Award, ReGen Artist Fund, Theater Bay Area Grant, NALAC Fund for the Arts and the Franklin Furnace Performance and Variable Media Award.

Jack Halberstam

Jack Halberstam is Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity, Gender Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California and Visiting Professor of English and Gender Studies at Columbia University. Halberstam is the author of five books including: Skin Shows: othic Horror and the Technology of Monsters (Duke UP, 1995), Female Masculinity (Duke UP, 1998), In A Queer Time and Place (NYU Press, 2005), The Queer Art of Failure (Duke UP, 2011) and Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal (Beacon Press, 2012) and has written articles that have appeared in numerous journals, magazines and collections. Halberstam is currently working on several projects including a book on Fascism and (homo)sexuality. Halberstam has co-edited a number of anthologies including Posthuman Bodies with Ira Livingston (Indiana University Press, 1995) and a special issue of Social Text with Jose Munoz and David Eng titled “What’s Queer About Queer Studies Now?” Jack is a popular speaker and gives lectures around the country and internationally every year. Lecture topics include: queer failure, sex and media, subcultures, visual culture, gender variance, popular film, animation.

Julie Tolentino

Julie Tolentino creates intimate movement-based installations, including performance, objects, sound and video. Her work has been presented by theaters, galleries, and museums including The New Museum, The Kitchen, Wexner Center, Theaterworks Singapore; Myanmar FC Project, Manila Contemporary, Green Papaya Gallery, Philippines; LA Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), Commonwealth & Council, Honor Fraser, MOCA, San Francisco Art Institute, NYU Abu Dhabi, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; and Pact Zollverein, Essen, Germany and more.  Among others she has worked with Meg Stuart, Lovett/Codagnone, David Rousseve, Kelly/Gerrard, Diamanda Galàs, Pigpen/Stosh Fila, Ron Athey, Catherine Opie, Madonna, Rodarte, Tom Kalin, Gran Fury. Current projects include the re-mounting of Ellen Cantor’s 1993 exhibition: "Coming To Power - Twenty Five Years of Explicit Art by Women" in the Fall of 2016 at the Maccarone Gallery, Art AIDS America, and she remains the co-editor of The Drama Review/MIT Press. Visual art exhibitions in NYC include Abrons Art Center and The Glasshouse; and in Los Angeles,  CURB Auction at Human Resources. She is working on a book project entitled: GUARD YOUR DAUGHTERS - Clit Club 1990-2002.

Natasha Marie Llorens

Natasha Marie Llorens is an independent curator and writer based in New York and Marseille. She curated "City and City," an upcoming exhibition at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center in Manhattan. Recent past projects include "Syntagma," at Eugene Lang College at the New School and "Vois-tu pas que je brûle?(Do you not see...) " at the Essex Street Market with Artists Alliance, both in Manhattan. She is a graduate of the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College and a Ph.D. candidate in art history at Columbia University. Her academic research is focused on violence and representation in Algerian national cinema from the period immediately post independence.

Why Explicit?

Featuring Lorraine O'GradySondra PerrySable Elyse Smith, moderated by Vivian Crockett

Lorraine O’Grady’s provocation, published as an essay for the first version of “Coming to Power,” was this question: where is the sexually explicit work by women of color, and what discourses is it responding to? This panel does not necessarily answer O’Grady’s question, but rather explores how sexually explicit material resonates outside the realm of hegemonic whiteness.

Lorraine O'Grady

Lorraine O’Grady is an artist and critic whose installations, performances, and texts address issues of diaspora, hybridity, and black female subjectivity. In 2007 her landmark performance, Mlle Bourgeoise Noire, was made one of the entry points to WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution, the first-ever museum exhibit of this major art movement. Born in Boston in 1934 to West Indian parents, O’Grady came to art late, not making her first works until 1980. After majoring in economics and literature, she’d had several careers: as an intelligence analyst for the U.S. government, a successful literary and commercial translator, even a rock critic. Ultimately, her broad background contributed to a distanced and critical view of the art world and to an unusually eclectic attitude toward artmaking. In O’Grady’s work, the idea comes first, and then a medium is employed to execute it. Although its intellectual content is rigorous and political, the work is generally marked by unapologetic beauty and elegance. O’Grady is a graduate of Wellesley College and holds an MFA in ction from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She has received numerous honors and awards, including the Bunting Fellowship in Visual Art from Harvard, the Vera List Senior Fellowship in Art and Politics from New School University, grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and from the New York State Council on the Arts. Her work has been exhibited in the Permanent Collection Galleries curated by James Rondeau, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL (Miscegenated Family Album, 2008); Art Basel Miami Beach (2009); Art 41 Basel (2010); and the 2010 Whitney Biennial (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York). 

Sondra Perry

Sondra Perry (born 1986 in Perth Amboy, New Jersey) is an interdisciplinary artist whose works in video, installation, computer-based media, and performance explores black stuff and the digital abstraction of subjecthood. In 2015, the artist's work appeared in the fourth iteration of Greater New York at MoMA/PS1. Other exhibitions include Disguise: Masks and Global African Art, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle (2015) and Brooklyn Museum (2016); A Constellation, Studio Museum in Harlem (2016); the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (2016); and has participated in residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Vermont Studio Center, Ox-bow, and the Experimental Television Center. Perry holds an MFA from Columbia University, New York City’s 12th largest employer and the number one cause of gentrification in the neighborhood of Harlem, New York, a BFA from Alfred University, and is currently based in Houston, Texas as part of the artist-in-residence program (CORE) at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.


Sable Elyse Smith

Sable Elyse Smith is an interdisciplinary artist and writer based in New York. Her practice considers memory and trauma while enacting an undoing of language. She works from the archive of her own body creating new syntax for knowing and not knowing, thereby marking the difference between witnessing and watching. To see is unbearable. She has performed at the Museum of Modern Art, the New Museum, Eyebeam, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA. Her work has also been screened at Birkbeck Cinema in collaboration with the Serpentine Galleries, London, Artist Television Access, San Francisco, and MoMA Ps1, New York. Her writing has been published in Radical Teacher, Studio Magazine and No Tofu Magazine and she is currently working on her first book. Smith has received grants & fellowships from Creative Capital, the Queens Museum, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, the Franklin Furnace Fund, and Art Matters. She is currently part-time faculty at Parsons The New School for Design.

Photo courtesy Julieta Salgado

Photo courtesy Julieta Salgado

Vivian Crockett

Vivian Crockett is a multinational, Brazilian-born independent researcher, scholar, and curator focusing largely on art of African diasporas, (Afro)Latinx diasporas, and Latin America at the varied intersections of race, gender, and queer theory. She is a Ph.D. candidate in art history at Columbia University. Her dissertation examines the participatory and film-based work produced by two Brazilian artists, Hélio Oiticica and Lygia Pape, in the late 1960s through the 1970s. She holds a B.A. in Art History from Stanford University, and an M.A. and M.Phil. in Art History from Columbia. Vivian has previously worked at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, where she held a three-year position as a research assistant in the museum’s Painting and Sculpture department and currently works independently with various institutions and senior scholars.

Her scholarly and cultural work seeks to assert a radically political analysis of modern and contemporary art and to foster the remembrance and visioning of cultural spaces that merge a commitment to artistic and cultural production with sociopolitical justice and collective liberation.