Magazine article Artforum International

Andrea Bowers: Andrew Kreps

Magazine article Artforum International

Andrea Bowers: Andrew Kreps

Article excerpt

Andrea Bowers

ANDREW KREPS

When Hillary Clinton recently described the barriers to racial equality as "intersectional," the leftist journal Jacobin tweeted a wry salute to whichever Ph.D. student had joined her campaign as a speechwriter. The editors were calling out Clinton's nod to legal theorist Kimberle Crenshaw's influential argument that discriminatory practices structured by differences in race, gender, or class "intersect" and compound one another. More subtly, the tweet posited an intersection of a different sort: an imagined Ph.D.-politico coupling academic jargon with campaign rhetoric. These two valences of intersection were both evident in Andrea Bowers's "Whose Feminism Is It Anyway?" Thematically, the exhibition focused on how activists bring intersectionality theory into praxis by forming alliances across diverse constituencies. For instance, the video Roundtable Discussion, 2016, documented a panel with Black Lives Matter cofounder Patrisse Cullors, African American trans woman and LGBTQ activist CeCe McDonald, and undocumented trans Latina leader Jennicet Gutierrez. At the same time, Bowers's decision to convene the panel at Otis College of Art pointed to how she creates intersections between art-world institutions and social-justice movements.

Bowers's particular combination of art and activism shouldn't be confused with that of Tania Bruguera, Laurie Jo Reynolds, and other "social practice" artists for whom aesthetic expression and political organizing are coterminous. Rather, Bowers primarily produces work intended for exhibition, establishing a remove from her subject matter that crops up in formal decisions. For "Whose Feminism," Bowers added to her already extensive series of richly detailed pencil drawings based on photographs taken at protests, in this case several Trans-Latin@ Coalition actions in Los Angeles. In each, she depicted a single protester--holding a sign or waving a fist--and left the rest of the page blank, as if to connote the larger assembly not shown. The accurate individualization of figures in a crowd caught in mid-gesture is an artistic strategy that originates in Bruegel's peasant scenes, which, Svetlana Alpers has argued, maintain an ethnographic detachment from their surrounds. …

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