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EXHIBITIONS

“arms ache avid aeon: Nancy Brooks Brody, Joy Episalla, Zoe Leonard, Carrie Yamaoka: fierce pussy amplified” at Beeler Gallery at Columbus College of Art & Design

Beeler Gallery at Columbus College of Art & Design dedicates Season ONE (October 2, 2018 – March 17, 2019) to the individual art practices of the four original core members of fierce pussy, the New York-based queer art collective – Nancy Brooks Brody, Joy Episalla, Zoe Leonard, and Carrie Yamaoka.

Formed in New York City in 1991 through their immersion in AIDS activism during a decade of increasing political mobilization around gay rights, fierce pussy brought lesbian identity and visibility directly into the streets. Low-tech and low-budget, the collective responded to the urgency of those years, using readily available resources: old typewriters, found photographs, their own baby pictures, and the printing supplies and equipment accessible in their day jobs. fierce pussy was composed of a fluid and often shifting cadre of members. Four of the original core members — Nancy Brooks Brody, Joy Episalla, Zoe Leonard, and Carrie Yamaoka — continue to work together.

arms ache avid aeon: Nancy Brooks Brody / Joy Episalla / Zoe Leonard / Carrie Yamaoka: fierce pussy amplified tracks each artist’s work from the 1990s to the present and draws upon the collective power, shared tactics, and diversity of their works. The works, some of which will be created specifically for the season, will be installed in four movements or “chapters.” Each chapter will include works from all four artists in different configurations to amplify the four art practices as living, breathing entities. It is the first time the works of the four artists are put into direct inquiry. A gallery containing artifacts and documentation of fierce pussy will be on view.

The season activates the perceptual and political agencies and art historical concerns in their works, in light of the political power of their collective. Among the convergences and resonances is the vital role of abstraction as manifestation of refuge, necessity, and resistance. Just as fierce pussy made the visibility of lesbian identity a political cause as a collective, this season argues that the visibility of each member’s art practice is equally potent.

The four words in the season’s title — arms ache avid aeon — come from Yamaoka’s 1991 piece A is for Angel, which features words gathered from typewriter correction ribbons she collected from friends. This early text-based work serves as a powerful metaphor for making visible what has been erased in our daily lives, culture, and society, as the season likewise provides a critical platform for the visibility of their individual art practices.

A sense of political consciousness inflects the four artists’ works, as does a deep investigation of time, space, perception, and materials. In many of the four artists’ works, abstraction serves as a form of resistance by pointing toward the limits of perception and visual representation. Yamaoka’s early work Archipelagoes (1991 – 94) a set of 18 chemically altered gelatin silver prints, maps a landscape of detention by naming places of quarantine, incarceration, and internment. Episalla’s untitled (curtain) (1993/2018), a large-scale photograph taken when visiting a friend in the hospital during the early years of the AIDS crisis, led to an ongoing photographic series of curtains that spans over two decades. Her recent foldtograms series continues her interests in the malleable materiality of the photographic surface and image. Leonard’s series of Sun Photographs (beginning in 2010) resists the basic rule of photography by pointing the camera at the sun. In Brody’s Glory Holes painting series (2008 – present), the artist mixes black, white, and gray paint with the colors of the rainbow, which are revealed only through sustained looking.

As part of arms ache avid aeon: Nancy Brooks Brody / Joy Episalla / Zoe Leonard / Carrie Yamaoka: fierce pussy amplified, Beeler Gallery works closely with the artists to conceive public events, such as talks, performances, and a symposium, to contextualize their practices and affinities.

Commissioned writing by Jill H. Casid and Elisabeth Lebovici will be conducted during the season. Both are participants of a symposium taking place on Saturday, March 2, 2019. Jill H. Casid is a 2018–19 Clark Art Institute Fellow and Professor of Visual Studies at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where she founded and served as the first director of the Center for Visual Cultures. Elisabeth Lebovici is the author of What AIDS Has Done to Me: Art and Activism at the End of the 20th Century, which won the Pierre Daix Prize, an award given to an art history book covering modern or contemporary art in France. Lebovici also served as the arts and culture editor for the daily newspaper Libération from 1991 to 2006.

arms ache avid aeon: Nancy Brooks Brody, Joy Episalla, Zoe Leonard, Carrie Yamaoka: fierce pussy amplified is conceived and curated by Jo-ey Tang, and co-organized with Ian Ruffino, and Marla Roddy.

 

at Beeler Gallery at Columbus College of Art & Design 
until 17 March 2019

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