Andrea Bowers: ANDREW KREPS GALLERY

By O'Neill-Butler, Lauren | Artforum International, January 2010 | Go to article overview

Andrea Bowers: ANDREW KREPS GALLERY


O'Neill-Butler, Lauren, Artforum International


In a 2003 interview, the Los Angeles-based artist Andrea Bowers noted of her work that "it was just a matter of time before documenting people's actions turned into documenting people's activism." In fact, it was within this same year that she began to incorporate overtly political themes into her drawings and videos, shifting her focus from crowd dynamics and spectatorship to the direct-action protests of the 1970s and '80s. In recent exhibitions, Bowers has examined abortion activism and the aids Memorial Quilt through a feminist lens. For her first solo show in New York since 2004, she took up a perhaps less emotional but just as transformative issue--global warming--and used the context of the gallery as a platform for consciousness raising, drawing attention to a small Native American community living on the southern edge of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

A video titled Circle (all works 2009) includes interviews with four generations of Gwich' in women, who convey the difficulties of working with environmental groups that have interests in the land but not necessarily in human rights. Interweaving shots of the sublime landscape with scenes of the women cooking and working, the piece verges on documentary, and, like much of the show, feels as though it were made for an audience beyond the art world. This was underscored at the exhibition's opening, the date of which was chosen to coincide with the international day of climate action proposed by 350.org: Bowers listed the gallery as a venue on the campaign's website and placed a stack of flyers at the front desk. But the question remains whether a white cube is the best venue for such activism: Why Chelsea over, say, Times Square, let alone PBS or NPR? …

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