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  Appropriate Appropriation
24 June - 30 July 2005

Gretchen Bender, Deborah Kass, Mary Ellen Strom

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Gray Kapernekas Gallery is pleased to present Appropriate Appropriation, a group show examining a critical aspect of feminist art making. With a nod to Sturtevant and Sherrie Levine’s landmark artworks, which opened critical dialogue on male authorship, the exhibition showcases three strategies of appropriation taken by three women artists in the last three decades.


Gretchen Bender

Gretchen Bender
Gretchen Bender, Untitled (From the Pleasure is Back), 1982

Gretchen Bender (1951–2004) came to prominence in the early 1980s with The Pleasure is Back. In this series, Bender appropriated the artworks of her contemporaries—including A.R. Penck, Robert Longo, Roy Lichtenstein, Sandro Chia—and silk-screened images of their work on sign tin, flattening them further into reproductions of reproductions. These pictures were arranged into geometric patterns, further removing any authorship, essentially turning them into branded icons of the times. Bender’s later work explored the impact of technology in media culture, resulting in important video art of the late-1980s.

Bender’s work was the subject of a mid-career retrospective organized by Peter Doroshenko in 1991 at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, New York. Bender’s art is represented in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Menil Collection, Houston, Texas; and the Pompidou Centre, Paris. Her highly regarded set designs were part of an ongoing collaboration with the choreographer, Bill T. Jones, including the video environment for the highly politicized dance/theatre work, Still Here (1994).

Deborah Kass

Deborah Kass
Deborah Kass, Silver Deb, 2000

Since the 1980s, Deborah Kass has in vestigated the art historical canon of male painters. In the 1990s, she set her focus on Andy Warhol’s visual legacy, reconfiguring classic Warholian imagery with feminist, lesbian, and Jewish iconography. Kass’ critique of Warhol resurrects and updates iconic imagery with humor, camp, and contemporary art references. Silver Deb (2000), included in the exhibition, appropriates Warhol’s famous portrait of Liz Taylor—itself, an appropriation— transforming it into a self-portrait, allowing multiple readings: actress into artist, gentile into Jew, glamour diva into lesbian, history into present tense.

In 1999, Kass’ work was the subject of a mid-career survey, My Andy, organized by the Newcomb Gallery at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, which traveled throughout the United States. Her work is in many prominent museum collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; The Jewish Museum; The Gu ggenheim Museum; The Museum of Modern Art; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.


Mary Ellen Strom

Mary Ellen Strom
Mary Ellen Strom, Hope Clark, Nude No. 4, 2005

Mary Ellen Strom’s project based work ranges in scope from intimate video projections to large-scale media-based performance installations. Her work engages participants and spectators alike in a range of poignant social and political concerns. Much of Strom’s work has been done in collaboration with choreographer Ann Carlson, including Geyser Land (2003), in which an audience rode a train between Livingston and Bozeman, Montan a, witnessing video projections on the mountainsides and experienced performances on and off the train. In Press Conference (2002) for the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, Strom re-staged a photograph from a protest in l972 onto film that then was projected and blocked the entrance to the museum’s gallery. Ms. Strom’s most recent video work has mined art history for its source and content, recasting classic paintings of female nudes—including Courbet, Manet, Velasquez, Gentilesci, and Magritte—into real-time video projections. Shot in high-definition digital video and projected with high-resolution projectors, the video works transform iconic paintings of female nudes into performances in which the subjects become activated, returning the viewer’s gaze. On exhibit is Hope Clark, Nude No. 3 (2005), a recasting of Magritte’s seminal anti-war painting, Bather Between Light and Darkness (1935).

Strom&rsquo ;s video and performance work has been exhibited at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus; the High Museum, Atlanta; and Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria. Strom is a faculty member at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where she teaches video and critical studies.