Last night I attended the UPRISE: Angry Women exhibition at The Untitled Space, a gallery in New York's historic Tribeca neighborhood. The exhibit is currently featuring 80 selections of politically charged pieces for and by women in response to the political climate regarding women's rights in America. The event is curated by The Untitled Space's owner, Indira Cesarine, who also hosted a panel discussion with several of the featured artists. Topics up for discussion at the panel spanned the spectrum of feminism in art, politics, and activism. The panel, which took place on January 22, coincided with the 44th anniversary of the landmark Roe v Wade Supreme Court case that launched a new era of feminism and women's rights.
Of the 80 female artists on display, nine of them were present to talk about their pieces and discuss their concerns over misogyny and racism becoming normalized again due to recent campaign and political rhetoric. Listening to these women talk was both exciting and empowering. A diverse group of ladies created an equally diverse display of art that should not be missed. As I listened to the speakers and took in all the incredible pieces that surrounded me I couldn't help but feel pride in the power of women's resilience. Resilience is in every piece. As is the passion and commitment to a fight that has, and must continue to move ever forward.
A highlight was featured artist and panelist Rose McGowan. Her piece, an abstract film made in honor of Purvi Patel (the first woman in the U.S. to be charged with feticide), uses spoken word and ethereal music to create a tone and mood that encapsulates the essence of Purvi's story and struggle. During the panel Rose, a fierce advocate for women's rights, expressed her deep worry for the dangerous precedent Purvi's case has set forth for reproductive rights in America.
The level of talent and intelligence in the room was exhilarating and I highly encourage others to visit the exhibit which is on display until January 28th. Below is our interview with The United Space owner and curator of UPRISE: Angry Women, Indira Cesarine.
When and by whom was The Untitled Space founded?
The Untitled Space is an art gallery located in Tribeca, New York, founded in 2014 by Indira Cesarine.
What artists and art medium does The Untitled Space seek to feature?
The gallery features an ongoing curation of exhibits of emerging and established contemporary artists exploring conceptual framework and boundary pushing ideology through mediums of painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, video, installation and performance art. The gallery is committing to exploring new ideas vis-à-vis traditional and new mediums. The gallery was founded to promote women in art and feminist art as a genre.
What can you tell us about your current exhibit, Angry Women?
UPRISE / ANGRY WOMEN features the work of 80 female contemporary artists responding to the current social and political climate in America in light of the recent presidential election. The exhibit takes place from January 17- 28, 2017, opening the week of the presidential inauguration.
The UPRISE / ANGRY WOMEN exhibit is presented in partnership with the ERA COALITION, a political organization that is working to support passage and ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, and a portion of proceeds will benefit their Fund for Women’s Equality. The Fund for Women's Equality is a charitable organization, working to raise awareness on gaps in the law that leave women without legal recourse from sex discrimination, and developing educational resources on the need for a constitutional provision to protect and promote equal rights for women. Founded by Jessica Neuwirth, author of "Equal Means Equal", the ERA Coalition board also includes Gloria Steinem, Teresa Younger and many other prominent women's rights activists.
How was the process of curating the work of 80 female artists?
When curating the exhibit, I was looking for artwork that could have social and cultural impact, from a diverse range of female voices from across the country. I felt it was important for the UPRISE / ANGRY WOMEN exhibit to reflect how women are feeling right now, and to have artists from all over the country with diverse backgrounds represented in the show. I definitely prioritized works that were made specifically for the exhibit, or as a response to the election and political climate. This is actually the first exhibit we have done at The Untitled Space that was open to submissions. Normally we curate all the exhibits by requesting individual artists to participate. On November 10th we posted the exhibit on online as well as to social media. We only had 1 month for artists to submit work (submissions closed December 10th). We got a phenomenal response from our outreach, with over 1800 works of art submitted by over 400 different contemporary female artists. I was very impressed by the quality of works submitted overall and the passionate artist statements we received. Many of the artists created new works of art specifically for the exhibit. It was incredibly difficult to narrow down the works for show, as so many of the pieces were powerful. In the end we selected 80 works of art, each by a different artist, which was really the maximum due to space limitations at the gallery. I think the works speak for themselves. Each artist brings a unique point of view to the subject and equally it is very powerful as a collective of artwork.
What is your intention behind choosing the Presidential Inauguration weekend for Angry Women’s opening?
As the exhibit is really in response to the election of Donald Trump as president, his policies and dialogue, it made sense for it to take place during the week of the presidential inauguration. The exhibit is politically motivated, and the artwork in UPRISE / ANGRY WOMEN raises awareness of how women in America are feeling right now regarding the current situation. I see the exhibit as an act of protest in it's own right.
What do you want people to take away from Angry Women?
I felt it was important for the exhibit to reflect how women are feeling today about the political system, and about sexism in America. I think it is important to raise awareness of the issues, to keep the dialogue going and equally to create a platform where this type of feminist and political art can be presented to the public. Presenting an exhibit like this with 80 artists gives the work an opportunity to be widely seen and shared, as well as collected of course. Artists have an ability to create visual art that can relay what many are thinking but may not be able to speak out loud. Art can challenge the status quo and shed light on the challenges and concerns our society is facing today. It is also a very important time in history for women to join together to fight for our rights and ensure that they continue to progress. It is important for Trump’s sexist, racist behavior to not become normalized.
When I launched The Untitled Space gallery, one of my initiatives was to emphasize contemporary female artists and feminist art as a genre. Over the past few years we have done many exhibits addressing feminist themes and I think this is a particularly important subject. We plan to continue with future exhibits that push the boundaries of feminist art and raise awareness of the issues. We are also proud to be supporting the ERA Coalition with this exhibit, and raise money for their Fund for Women’s Equality. I find it incredible that in 2017, we still do not have an Equal Rights Amendment in the US Constitution. I hope that the works from the exhibit inspire and empower viewers and encourage them to support feminism, have a better understanding of women’s issues and feminist art.
What are your hopes for women’s rights in America under Trump’s presidency?
The fact that now we have to live in fear of our reproductive rights being stripped away from us, that much of the progress we have made over the past 50 years may very well just crumble away with the new political regime is frightening to countless women. I hope that by joining together in solidarity that women’s rights will continue to progress. I hope that we don’t have to face situations like Roe vs Wade being overturned, although that will be a fight. Right now people are waking up to the misogyny in this country and realizing that not only does it exist, but that under the circumstances we will have to fight to even keep the rights we currently have. It is important to keep the dialogue and the fight going and to not back down when it comes to reproductive rights, equal pay, and equal rights. I am looking forward to the next election and I think it is important for women to start focusing now on electing to local congress politicians that support these issues and to start working now on these issues as being central to the next presidential election.
“The 2016 presidential election has brought to the surface extremes of sexism, racism and discrimination. Many women are deeply disturbed not only by the negative stereotyping and sexist attitudes towards women that have surfaced but also the threats to roll back women's rights. The “UPRISE / ANGRY WOMEN” exhibit gives female artists a means to express themselves in regards to the social and political climate in America, and empower others with their visual imagery. We are proud to partner with the ERA Coalition and help raise money for their Fund for Women’s Equality. Right now more than ever women need to unify and work together to ensure that our rights, which were fought for with blood and tears for many decades, are not only assured, but continue to progress.”
– curator Indira Cesarine
Dont miss this powerful exhibition on display
through January 28th, 2016
The Untitled Space is located
@ 45 Lispenard St in Manhattan, NY.