The Nasher Museum presented a new exhibition of work by leading North American women artists who exposed messages of stereotypes, racism and sexism in the mass media. The Deconstructive Impulse: Women Artists Reconfigure the Signs of Power, 1973-1991 examined the contribution of women to the deconstructivism movement in the 1970s and ’80s. Deconstructivism is the practice of borrowing images―from newspapers, magazines, television, advertisements, movies and the art world itself―and taking apart and revealing imbedded messages to create new work.
The exhibition featured more than 60 photographs, paintings, prints, videos and installations by 22 artists who were on the forefront of deconstructivism, including Dara Birnbaum, the Guerrilla Girls, Lynn Hershman, Jenny Holzer, Deborah Kass, Barbara Kruger, Lorna Simpson, Cindy Sherman, Laurie Simmons and Carrie Mae Weems.
The exhibition was complemented by a talk by co-curators Helaine Posner and Nancy Princenthal; a gallery talk for supporting members by Kim Lamm, assistant professor in Duke’s Women’s Studies Program, and Sarah Schroth, Nancy Hanks Senior Curator; a free performance by the Guerrilla Girls as the Barbra and Andrew Rothschild Lecture; a “Wonder Woman” concert by Mallarmé Chamber Players; a film screening of Lynn Hershman Leeson’s “Women Art Revolution”; an Art for All event featuring a Wonder Woman impersonator; two free Family Day events; an Art with the Experts talk at Durham Public Library by Juline Chevalier, curator of education; a gallery performance by the a capella Duke student group Out of the Blue and a screening of the ‘80s film Women in Management: Threat or Opportunity.
The Deconstructive Impulse: Women Artists Reconfigure the Signs of Power, 1973 – 1991 was organized by the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, State University of New York. It was funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, Washington, D.C.; the Friends of the Neuberger Museum of Art; and the Westchester Arts Council. At the Nasher Museum, major support for the exhibition was provided by Katherine Thorpe, T’04. Additional support was provided by the Graduate Liberal Studies program at Duke University. Furniture in the exhibition was kindly provided by Ambiente International.
TOP: Dara Birnbaum, still from Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman, 1978-79. Video, color, sound, 5 minutes, 50 seconds. Courtesy Electronic Arts Intermix, (EAI), New York.