[This made the "Best of" List because I really miss I Space and seeing this great show brought back memories of a gallery I don't want people to forget. Originally posted 9/17/09]
Bonnie Fortune and I-Space, the Chicago gallery of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, have put together an impressive exhibition of visual resistance in the women’s health movement that encompasses activist posters, video, performance, and the work of feminist artists both emerging and established.
“EveryBody! Visual Resistance in Feminist Health Movements, 1969-2009″ draws from women’s health activists’ attitude of helping others to help themselves by presenting compelling art works as well as continuing to inform the public on women’s health issues. While a show of this nature takes the risk of merely reflecting on the vibrant activism of the 1970s, “EveryBody!” manages to pay homage to the past while showcasing the work of contemporary feminist artists.
Suzann Gage’s iconic 1981 illustrations for A New View of a Woman’s Body serve as a jumping-off point for many of the works on display. Some of the younger participating artists refer to and continue Gage’s goal of illuminating the female body and encouraging self-help among women. Heather Ault’s Wallpaper Project presents Gage’s illustration of a “del em,” or menstrual extraction device, as a delicate and unassuming wallpaper design, imagining a world where abortion and health self-management can be taken for granted.
Tip of the Iceberg, the self-published book by Laura Szumoski, attempts to reveal the truth about that elusive organ – the clitoris, and is one of many zines and small books included in the exhibition. Women’s health activism of the 1970s is represented by Tee Corinne’s 1975 The Cunt Coloring Book (yes, crayon’s are provided!), and a number of posters on loan from the Chicago Women’s Graphics Collective. The Faith Wilding-founded “reproducible cyberfeminist cell of cultural researchers” subRosa will perform at the September 11th opening. They’ve built a cushy six-foot high vulva in one corner of the gallery and will invite audience members to interact with it, props provided. The multi-media scope of the show is substantial. Computer stations are available to browse the websites of activist groups like CureThis! and Women on Waves. A new video piece will be screened each week, beginning with Women’s Lib Demonstration NYC (1970) by Videofreex and later videos by subRosa, Ellen Spiro, and Kathy High.
I-space has managed to create an engaging and welcoming space for both learning about the women’s health movement and viewing work by feminist artists in a variety of mediums. Be sure to include subRosa’s performance on your list of “must-sees” this coming Friday.