How to Say No and What Art Has To Do With It
by Jen Graves
on Thu, Jan 10, 2013 at 11:24 AM
ELLES: WOMEN ARTISTS FROM THE CENTRE POMPIDOU CLOSES SUNDAY The big traveling show comes down this weekend. Seattle Art Museum's own all-woman collections installation, called Elles: SAM is up for another month (through February 17).
It's getting dark out, and I'm the last reporter left at Seattle Art Museum. I've been on my feet for hours, because this is the day when the throng of the press first marches through Elles, the big special exhibition of art made by women going back to the start of the 20th century: photographs, paintings, videos, sculptures, and installations that are basically you-name-it—light, dark, soft, hard, crowded together. There are attractions and repulsions in Elles. It's scattered and impossible to follow; there's nothing to follow. Quiet rooms of colored rectangles that would seem to have nothing to do with existing inside the body of a woman are overwhelmed by displays of women angrily or cunningly shoving their vulvas and breasts at audiences or pictures of women already on horrifying display. One skinny naked woman on a beach in a video hulas with a barbed-wire hoop. Two simply drawn acrobats crossing in mid-flight are a graceful study for a Russian theater production that may or may not have been realized a hundred years ago. Raising the unhelpful and even uninteresting question: Is being a woman about being inside the body of a woman, or "about" anything at all?