Magazine article Artforum International

"SOGTFO": Ghebaly Gallery

Magazine article Artforum International

"SOGTFO": Ghebaly Gallery

Article excerpt

"SOGTFO"

GHEBALY GALLERY

In October 2014, the grassroots organization Hollaback! released a two-minute video of hidden-camera footage in which a curvaceous brunette is catcalled as she walks the streets of New York. Intended as a public-service announcement, the video promptly went viral. Within the art world, discussions in its wake revisited conversations initiated by artists such as Adrian Piper and valie export, whose practices question the conditions under which women are allowed to occupy public space. The same mechanisms of social control that police a woman's physical presence can extend to the virtual realm, that supposedly object-free environment where women are nevertheless ubiquitously objectified, reduced to the sum of their selfies. Women who attempt to exert control over the production of their images online may find it far more difficult to curtail circulation, while those who refuse to provide any image at all are rebuked with taunts like "TOGTFO" ("tits or get the fuck out"), a refrain that demands a woman "prove" her gender, thus participating in her own exploitation.

Artist-curator Charlie White's exhibition title "SOGTFO" winked at the aforementioned meme, with its wince-inducing substitution of "sculpture" as the preferred bounty. If White's stated intent was to confront the "language of immaterial misogyny" with material reality, by applying this syntax to an exclusively female artist roster, he ended up reinforcing the very notions of gender that he had been claiming to confront. While meant to lend the show some tongue-in-cheek swagger, the title framed the exhibition as if the selected artists did have something to prove--or worse, as if they were bowing to the mandate issued by their (male) curator.

Thankfully, this brawny five-artist show had no need for such posturing. In the exhibition's opening salvo, Andrea Zittel broke down the first room of the gallery according to hierarchies of geometry, not gender. Flat Field Work #1,2015, is a structure composed of overlapping examples of planar panels, a formal phenomenon that, as the artist explains in her accompanying eight-minute video, Dynamic Essay About the Panel, 2014, "has the ability to constitute its own, independent field of reality. …

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