Sunday, November 28, 2010

Like a Prayer: Post-Feminist Art at Barrister's


Feminism ain't what it used to be. This show, originally intended as a survey of recent feminist art, quickly morphed into something else once the artist submissions started coming in. Consequently, curators Martina Batan and Andy Antippas decided to work with what they had in hand, which Antippas generalized as "women coping," citing the example of "a married woman's portrait of her former lesbian lover, or a woman with a chained up refrigerator preparing a meal of pills." Even as 1970s feminist art sells for increasingly higher prices, yesterday's ambitions seem to have subsided into the unsteady shuffle that is the 21st century so far, as agendas appear increasingly convoluted. Take Berlin-based Bob Tooke's painting I WAS HITLER'S BITCH, top. Here a bemused Fuhrer sits surrounded by four crudely painted babes named Gaga, Paris, Britney and Lindsay, and while they all look like airheads, none resembles their namesake. Are airhead babes just a cover for a fascist plot? Tooke's partner, Silke, offers few clues in THANK GOD WE NEVER MET, a painting of a woman pouring booze on her dog as space mutants crawl out from under her dress, which seems to be made of bricks.

But if meanings are elusive, there is no shortage of attitude in works like Nikki Crook's VENUS IN FURS portrait, above, of an elegant bohemian lady with a twisted expression. Likewise, Lilian Butter's RETRIBUTION painting of a goth gal with green skin, pink hair and blue nails carrying a bloody crowbar, is chilling. The same might be said for Raven Creature's painting of a nude pink zombie. But Chalmette -based Evelyn Cade's CONFUSION ON I-10 painting, left, of a woman wading in floodwater as she flashes her tits --as if for beads--as trapped storm survivors huddle forlornly on an I-10 up ramp, is a perfect metaphor for a decade when media circuses passed for news and flood victims were left to fend for themselves. For this, Cade must surely qualify as St. Bernard Parish's expressionist in residence par excellence. ~Bookhardt
LIKE A PRAYER: Reflections on the 21st Century Feminine, Through Dec. 31, Barrister's Gallery, 2331 St. Claude Ave, New Orleans, 504-710-2506;