Magazine article Artforum International

Mira Schor: CBI Gallery

Magazine article Artforum International

Mira Schor: CBI Gallery

Article excerpt

Mira Schor

CBI GALLERY

The problems of painting, language, and gendered power relations have long animated the work of New York-based artist and writer Mira Schor, who graduated from CalArts in 1973 and participated in its Feminist Art Program. In a preface to her 1997 book of essays titled Wet: On Painting, Feminism, and Art Culture, Schor noted that her goal has been to make political paintings in the "full sense of both terms"--artworks whose political content is enhanced by their seductive medium. "Painting not as 'eye candy,'" she wrote, "but as a synergetic honey-trap for contemporary discourse." This statement, written a few years after Schor completed her multi-canvas work War Frieze, 1991-94, continues to resonate nearly twenty years later in her series "'Power' Frieze," 2016. Both bodies of work were recently on display at CBI Gallery.

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Installed along the four walls of one large gallery was the second half of Schor's War Frieze, made between the fall of 1992 and that of '94. Comprising eighty-two twelve-by-sixteen-inch painted linen canvases placed side by side slightly above eye level, this installation was the most comprehensive presentation of the work to date. (The frieze is more than two hundred feet long and has never been viewed in its entirety by the public or by the artist herself.) Begun in the aftermath of the First Gulf War, and informed by gender-related controversies such as the Anita Hill hearings and abortion litigation (which remains a topical issue), the paintings in War Frieze feature body parts and suggestive corporeal forms, as well as words in cursive script connected by a thin, sinuous line that stretches across the entire suite. Disembodied breasts and penises (some with ears), vagina-like slits, toilet bowls, and politically charged phrases such as area of denial and undue burden commingle on sometimes thinly scumbled, other times thickly built-up grounds of fleshy-pink, bloodred, jizzy-white, and turd-brown paint. Language fragments taken from the news media (such as terms referring to weapons of war and to the legal standard used by the Supreme Court to determine the lawfulness of state restrictions on a woman's access to abortion) are incorporated into the paintings, provoking a meditation on how legislative phrases can make abstract the very bodies whose owners experience these words' consequences most keenly. …

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