Seattle Art Museum

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The Seattle Art Museum (SAM) impressed me with its traveling show, Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou, Paris, exploring art history solely through the lens of women artists- but not in a literal way where woman substitute men- but in a way in which they try to tell their own histories, their own stories. Now, I don’t think they succeed entirely. But they do comment heavily on the place (or absence) of women in the larger story of art history. And they are very loud about it (rightly, but very strongly).

And the show includes 18 media works in the galleries! And although they are seriously compressed with terrible resolution, they were all working, which is very impressive. My favorite pieces are below…

  1. Germaine Dulac, La Coquille et le Clergyman (1927). A feature film made in the 20s by a woman; I wish I had time to watch it all.
  2. Andrea Fraser, Museum Highlights: A Gallery Talk (1989). Fraser dresses up like a docent and gives a sarcastic and hysterical tour of the galleries.
  3. Sigalit Landau, Barbed Hula (2001). Hula hooping with barbed wire to comment on the pain of life in the middle east. Haunting, powerful, and painful to watch.

SAM made Elles: Seattle, highlighting the women important to its community, as a compliment to the Pompidou’s show. The show contains a media gallery in which a few works have to take turns, but I still got to see Laurie Anderson’s O Superman (1981). She is so simple with the work she does in her media art, but her humor is unmatched..

The other work of note is a piece hanging in the foyer. Cai Guo-Qiang’s Inopportune: Stage One is made up of full-sized cars with lights piercing through them and hanging from the ceiling. I have no idea what they mean but I do know that they are very cool.

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