CURRICULUM: spaces of learning and unlearning

January 16 - March 16, 2019

Image courtesy of Sarah Zapata. Photo: Walter Wlodarczyk

Image courtesy of Sarah Zapata. Photo: Walter Wlodarczyk

Opening Reception: Wednesday, January 16, 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM with performance by Julie Tolentino and Pigpen (aka Stosh Fila); curatorial walkthrough from 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM.

Artists: OlaRonke Akinmowo for Free Black Women’s Library, Becca Albee, Amelia Bande, Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo, Christen Clifford, January Hunt, Carolyn Lazard, Candice Lin & Patrick Staff, Julie Tolentino, Quay Quinn Wolf, Sarah Zapata

Curated by: Stamatina Gregory & Jeanne Vaccaro

Curatorial Fellow: Java Jones

EFA Project Space presents CURRICULUM: spaces of learning and unlearning, an exhibition that reimagines collective study outside of cultural institutions and creates pathways for resistance by asking the questions: What would a curriculum for collective study and political action look and feel like? Can simply being present together be a form of learning, a way of transforming one another? What is recuperable from decades past? What can we do that we have not yet done?

The second-wave feminist ethos of “the personal is political”—coined to underscore the interconnectedness of individual experience and larger social and political structures—has been, in our contemporary moment, inverted. Popular feminism, as it manifests today—in the news cycle, on social media, in consumer culture—enjoys an almost unprecedented visibility, as it operates through a framework of personal strength and the individual capacity to overcome (and collapses into a capitalist aestheticization of wellness and self-care). The political is now personal. Feminism’s narratives are constrained and enclosed by contemporary economies of information and reception: movements toward social justice have had their vision replaced by the politics of visibility, trapped in an economy of shares, clicks, and likes. How can self-care move from a restoration of one’s individual capacity to a collective, collaborative project? 

CURRICULUM explores the potential for collective study outside of formal classrooms and university spaces—a study which might move past prevailing modes of circulation. Emerging from a space of reading and revision, these works utilize a range of artistic strategies for intuitive, participatory, haptic learning—from sonic enclosures to ceramic vessels and woolen landscapes to photographic portraits. Together, these works position self-care as an ethical and artistic practice of political action, moving towards ways of reconceiving the interaction of bodies and ideas in the present.

Several artists in the exhibition, including Christen Clifford and January Hunt, create visual, sonic, and material enclosures, refiguring bodily relations in regard to community and healing. Clifford’s Interiors (2018) immerses the viewer in a visual field made from the footage of diagnostic cameras as they explore the bodily interior of several subjects across genders. Becca Albee’s revisitation of a 1992 text on radical feminist therapy and collective organizing explores our personal attachments to formative texts, while proposing that such sustained engagement is necessary for self and community transformation.

Candice Lin and Patrick Staff’s Hormonal Fog (2016-18) and Carolyn Lazard’s Crip Time (2017) radically reconceptualize bodily differences and their relationship to both structures of power and notions of private and public space. By acknowledging the most basic, material space of our shared existence—the air we breathe—Lin and Staff’s infiltration of the gallery space through the vaporized release of botanically-derived anti-androgenic compounds addresses both alternative forms of therapeutic transformation and new forms of environmental solidarity. In Lazard’s video, an unidentifiable protagonist performs one of the repetitive tasks of managing chronic illness, moving the private and mundane into the realm of widely shared experience.

The work of Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo, Quay Quinn Wolf, and Sarah Zapata propose new forms of intimacy through sculpture and image. Branfman-Verissimo’s painting translates the metaphorical act of holding space for individual and collective learning into deeply affective imagery, while Wolf’s sculptures invoke the demands of care through both prosaic and perishable materials. Zapata’s woolen landscapes propose a new kind of monumentality for our present moment: one that engages multiple senses and is indebted to indigenous histories.

An area of the exhibition will be dedicated to OlaRonke Akinmowo’s ongoing project The Free Black Women’s Library, a mobile space committed to circulating the work of Black women authors. Conceived as part of the tradition of mobile libraries as spaces for collective learning, community building, and anti-capitalist sites of exchange, the space will host workshops and open hours throughout the exhibition.

In co-creating forms of collective study for our present moment, CURRICULUM seeks to construct an environment for both contemplation and movement.Taken together, these works ask: what can a personal, spatial practice enable? What histories can be contained, reconstructed, and remade? What traumas can be held and learned from?

CURRICULUM builds on the foundation of a corollary exhibition, READING ROOM (June 6-30, 2018 at Root Division, San Francisco), which considered themes of the revision and reconstruction of feminist texts and canonical figures. Following the work of historical recovery and image remediation that occurred in READING ROOM, CURRICULUM explores the present as a site of renewed potential.

The exhibition will be activated through a number of performances and programs. The opening on the evening of Wednesday, January 16 features a durational performance by Julie Tolentino and Pigpen (aka Stosh Fila), followed by an embodied practice led by Tolentino on Saturday, January 19. Scholar and critic Jennifer Doyle will join us on February 15 to read from Letting Go, which describes the experience of being stalked by a student, and offers an extended reflection on the psychic costs of living with harassment. A panel discussion on Saturday, March 2 considers collective strategies for reparative care, featuring writer and organizer Ted Kerr of What Would an HIV Doula Do?, filmmaker and scholar Lana Lin, and OlaRonke Akinmowo, creator of the Free Black Women’s Library. Akinmowo will host regular "book sessions" to discuss texts selected from the Free Black Women's Library over the course of the exhibition. A performance by Amelia Bande on Saturday, March 9 will function as a collective rehearsal, inviting a new relation between the audience and artworks.

This exhibition is produced with support from Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory and the NYU Center for Disability Studies. The exhibition's curatorial fellow is Java Jones.

ABOUT THE CURATORS

Stamatina Gregory is a curator and an art historian, whose work focuses primarily on the interrelationship of contemporary art and politics. She has organized exhibitions for institutions including The Cooper Union, FLAG Art Foundation, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, and the Santa Monica Museum of Art, and has taught art history, critical theory, and writing at New York University, The New School, the School of Visual Arts, Purchase College, Sotheby’s Institute, and the University of Pennsylvania.

Jeanne Vaccaro is a writer, curator, and teacher whose work explores the intersection of aesthetics and the history and theory of trans and queer life. Her book in process, Handmade: Feelings and Textures of Transgender, considers the felt labor of making identity and was awarded the Arts Writers Grant by Creative Capital | the Andy Warhol Foundation. Jeanne is a Queer|Art curatorial fellow, working with mentor Nelson Santos, and she received her Ph.D. in Performance Studies from New York University.

Gregory and Vaccaro are the co-curators of Bring Your Own Body: transgender between archives and aesthetics, for the Cooper Union (one of ArtNet's most memorable museum shows of 2015); READING ROOM: the feminist art of self-help (Root Division); and Tuesday Smillie: left brain of darkness (Magil Library).

Related Events

  • Wednesday, January 16, 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM, Curatorial Walkthrough with Stamatina Gregory & Jeanne Vaccaro

  • Wednesday, January 16, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM, Opening Reception, with performance by Julie Tolentino and Pigpen (aka Stosh Fila)

  • Saturday, January 19, 2:00 PM, Embodied practice with Julie Tolentino

  • Sunday, January 27, 2:00 PM, The Free Black Women's Library Book Sessions: a discussion of Heads of the Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spires

  • Friday, February 15, 6:00 PM, Letting Go: a reading by Jennifer Doyle

  • Sunday, February 24, 2:00 PM, The Free Black Women's Library Book Sessions: a discussion of Eloquent Rage by Brittney Cooper

  • Saturday, March 2, 3:00 PM, Collective Strategies for Reparative Care: A panel discussion with Ted Kerr (writer and organizer, What Would an HIV Doula Do?), Lana Lin (filmmaker, scholar, author of Freud’s Jaw and Other Lost Objects: Fractured Subjectivity in the Face of Cancer, 2017), and OlaRonke Akinmowo (creator, The Free Black Women’s Library). A reception will follow the event. Presented in partnership with NYU Center for Disability Studies.

  • Saturday March 9, Collective rehearsal performance with Amelia Bande

 

RELATED EVENTS (forthcoming)