8 months ago

F*CK U! In The Most Loving Way

Exhibition catalog for "F*CK U! In The Most Loving Way" created by the Northern California Women's Caucus for Art.

Suffice it to say that

Suffice it to say that women’s place and status in the home are very different today. According to the Department of Labor’s statistics, in 2015 the majority of all American women sixteen and older (56.7%) worked outside of home. In 2015 59.7% of African American women worked. 10 The percentages are even higher for mothers. In 2015 the overwhelming majority of American mothers of children under the age of 18, married or not, worked (69.9%). 11 The Rise of Multipurpose Live-Work Spaces As women have increasingly worked outside the home, clear divides between home and work have irrevocably eroded, especially with the increase in part-time work, outsourcing, freelancing, and telecommuting. According to the Department of Labor’s American Time Use Survey, 24 percent of employed people did some or all of their work at home in 2015. 12 Not only has work crept into the home, but it is no longer limited to a designated area, such as a home office or, to borrow from Virginia Woolf, a room of one’s own. Artist couple Newton and Helen Mayer Harrison made this last point abundantly clear already in 1983 with their performance installation, The Work Place at Home, which recreated their living room at their home in San Diego at the Long Beach Museum. The Harrisons sat in red chairs facing each other and worked during the At Home exhibition, which was an investigation of the home a decade after Womanhouse. 13 More than thirty years after the Harrisons’s performance, work emails are answered compulsively while watching television or minding the children (even when they shouldn’t). The home has mutated into multiple multipurpose live-work spaces. Reflecting this recent spatial reconfiguration of the “traditional home,” the space of “Revisiting Womanhouse” depicts a hypothetical working mother’s multipurpose live-work space where art is also displayed. Setting Up “Revisiting Womanhouse” Curating and installing “Revisiting Womanhouse” was a joint effort. Priscilla Otani and Leisel Whitlock helped me keep on track with the many logistical details. With their expertise, exhibition volunteers Colette Standish and Josefin Jansson contributed greatly to the installation of and arrangement of the artwork with “Revisiting Womanhouse.” Exhibition volunteer Linda Kattwinkel contributed several key curatorial aspects of the space. In the “Revisiting Womanhouse” space, Colette Standish, Josefin Jansson, and I repurposed some of the office furniture and equipment. For example, we reclaimed a table that typically functions as a desk. On the table was a binder of readings about Womanhouse, selected by me but beautifully assembled by Linda Kattwinkel, who also graciously and dutifully cleared all the copyright permissions. Linda Kattwinkel also proposed the idea of pink lighting in the space. Turned out that while it was possible, the lighting didn’t look quite right. Priscilla Otani suggested correctly that a small table lamp with a pink bulb next to the binder on the table would do the trick. Otani even located and purchased the specialty bulb. The lamp bathed the space with a soft pink glow—an appreciative nod to the pink Nurturant Kitchen of Womanhouse created by Susan Frazier, Vicki Hodgetts, and Robin Weltsch. 32

A row of white cubby storage units adorned the back wall of the space. Usually, binders, gallery supplies, and office supplies can be found in the cubbyholes. We added additional office supplies such as a large three-hole puncher and blank notebooks. Gallery and exhibition supplies such as tape and scissors were displayed in plastic bins. Relevant books about feminist art and communication styles were placed in several cubbyholes to create a tiny library that visitors could peruse at their leisure. Included in the makeshift library was a reproduction of the original Womanhouse catalog, which was exhibited on loan by Linda Kattwinkel. Behind the table, a flat screen monitor placed on one of the back cubby units played continuously Joanna Demetrakas’s 1974 documentary, Womanhouse. The iconic film documented not only the installation but also the performances that took place, such as Faith Wilding’s Waiting as well as Karen Le-Cocq and Nancy Youdelman’s joint performance Lea’s Room. During our early email exchanges Judy Chicago suggested that Demetrakas’s Womanhouse be included as a featured artist in the F*ck U! In the Most Loving Way, and for her suggestion (among numerous others) I am eternally grateful. Not only does the film provide viewers with a sense of the experience of visiting Womanhouse, but its continuous play in “Revisiting Womanhouse” was a reminder of how much moving images on screens have invaded the domestic realm. Two office chairs were strategically placed next to the table in “Revisiting Womanhouse.” Visitors could sit at the table and look at art, read the binder, view the video, or do other things such as converse, rest, or post selfies on social media from their smart phones. What was very important to me from a curatorial standpoint, was that the objects in the cubbyholes would be arranged (or not arranged, depending on your point of view) in a ever-so-slightly disorderly fashion. The “Revisiting Womanhouse” space was to look, as much as possible, utilitarian and purposeful, as a hypothetical lived-in room. One could say that the space of “Revisiting Womanhouse” itself was curated as an installation or environment that could evoke personal memories of home for each gallery visitor. Nonetheless, to claim that “Revisiting Womanhouse” was an installation would be inaccurate because the room’s primary function remained as an exhibition space where numerous artworks were displayed. Making Visible the Psychology of Women’s Immaterial Labor The Exhibition Collective was interested in probing how societal changes since 1972 have affected women. Indeed, the Exhibition Collective engaged in an exploration of how to express these effects ……. 33