Last week at CAM downtown, a new exhibition entitled GirlTalk: Women and Text made its debut. The exhibit is an exploration of words and language and the way women use them to communicate, often focusing on issues concerning politics, society, and gender.
GirlTalk features works by Lisa Anne Auerbach, Dana Frankfort, Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Marilyn Minter, Monique Prieto, Kay Rosen, Kim Rugg, and Maya Schindler, some of whom have long been influential artists, a few of whom are less seasoned. Each artist featured employs words and text in a unique way, as a form of visual expression and the main proponent of their works. The idea seems interestingly similar to the “Word Up” exhibit at NCMA I discussed last week, except “GirlTalk” relies more heavily on the written word and imagery is secondary if not non-existent. Besides that, every artist featured in “Word Up” is male, and the “Girl Talk” artists are, you got it, girls.
GirlTalk confronts the ever-changing, ambiguous quality of text and language. It’s interesting to explore one’s own interpretation of a work, and then to read about the artist’s intentions. I know my own ideas often conflicted with intended meaning. I found that re-evaluating a piece with the new knowledge in tow is to experience the work in a totally new light.
When viewing the conglomeration of newspaper sheets created by Maya Schindler on a makeshift wall at CAM, I didn’t give the actual text much thought. But later that evening, when I unfolded the delicate sheet and scanned the words “I am somebody” printed in thick pink font, the work suddenly became a feminist statement. Similarly, another newspaper take-away from Schindler reading “Where do we go from here,” written in white on green background, immediately called my attention the environmental troubles facing our world today.
In addition to providing opportunity for observation and contemplation, GirlTalk features interactive elements like Monique Prieto’s Elegy, in which the artist invites guests to touch and unfurl spray-painted muslin to reveal imagery inducing text.
Lisa Anne Auerbach’s group of statement sweaters hang like phantom mannequins from CAM’s ceiling. The grouping of knitted outfits, in addition to looking quite comfortable, use wool to form words encouraging people to be politically and socially outspoken, courting a range of topics from bike-riding to alcohol consumption.
Downstairs, a film by Marilyn Minter shows the letter M, the letter E, and M&M candies slowly splashing into metallic fluid, creating a humorous commentary on the self-involved nature of society.