Unspeakable acts Women, art, and sexual violence in the 1970s

Nancy Princenthal

Book - 2019

"The 1970s was a time of deep division and newfound freedoms. Galvanized by 'The Second Sex' and 'The Feminine Mystique', the civil rights movement and the March on Washington, a new generation put their bodies on the line to protest injustice. Still, even in the heart of certain resistance movements, sexual violence against women had reached epidemic levels. Initially, it went largely unacknowledged. But some bold women artists and activists, including Yoko Ono, Ana Men...dieta, Marina Abramovic, Adrian Piper, Suzanne Lacy, Nancy Spero and Jenny Holzer, fired up by women's experiences and the climate of revolution, started a conversation about sexual violence that continues today. Some worked unannounced and unheralded, using the street as their theater. Others managed to draw support from the highest levels of municipal power. Along the way, they changed the course of art, pioneering a form that came to be called simply performance. Award-winning author Nancy Princenthal takes on these enduring issues and weaves together a new history of performance, challenging us to re-examine the relationship between art and activism, and how we can apply the lessons of that turbulent era to today." --

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Subjects
Published
New York, New York ; London : Thames and Hudson 2019.
Language
English
Physical Description
288 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color) ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN
9780500023051
0500023050
Main Author
Nancy Princenthal (author)
  • Body language
  • Looking for trouble
  • Testifying
  • Taking action
  • Identity crises
  • Graphic content
  • The canon
  • Since the seventies
  • Conclusion.
Review by Booklist Reviews

Seasoned art critic and PEN award-winning Princenthal (Agnes Martin, 2015) revisits the darkly rampaging 1970s and calls out the courageous women artists who bridged the divide between protest and art to confront a reality no one was speaking out about: sexual violence. She sets the scene with precision, from rising street crime in deteriorating cities to escalating violence by antiwar activists, a surge in sadistic pornography, and crushing silence about rape. Into this maelstrom strides daring feminist artists who are creating a new and controversial practice called performance art. In this uniquely focused and vitally analytical history, Princenthal recognizes an underappreciated facet of revolutionary art, and dramatically captures the bravura, shocking, at times media-savvy, in other cases stunningly covert performances of Yoko Ono, Suzanne Lacy, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Ana Mendieta, Adrian Piper, and Marina Abramovic, as well as the ferocious pictorial work of Nancy Spero. The risks they took, the anger aroused by their exposure of society's indifference toward or complicity in sexual crimes against women, and the intellectual underpinnings of their work are all expertly elucidated in Princenthal's unprecedented and searing inquiry. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"The 1970s was a time of deep division and newfound freedoms. Galvanized by 'The Second Sex' and 'The Feminine Mystique', the civil rights movement and the March on Washington, a new generation put their bodies on the line to protest injustice. Still, even in the heart of certain resistance movements, sexual violence against women had reached epidemic levels. Initially, it went largely unacknowledged. But some bold women artists and activists, including Yoko Ono, Ana Mendieta, Marina Abramovic, Adrian Piper, Suzanne Lacy, Nancy Spero and Jenny Holzer, fired up by women's experiences and the climate of revolution, started a conversation about sexual violence that continues today. Some worked unannounced and unheralded, using the street as their theater. Others managed to draw support from the highest levels of municipal power. Along the way, they changed the course of art, pioneering a form that came to be called simply performance. Award-winning author Nancy Princenthal takes on these enduring issues andweaves together a new history of performance, challenging us to re-examine the relationship between art and activism, and how we can apply the lessons of that turbulent era to today." --

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A groundbreakingexploration of howwomen artists of the1970s combined artand protest to makesexual violence visible,creating a new kind ofart in the process.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

The Second SexThe Feminine MystiqueAward-winning author Nancy Princenthal takes on these enduring issues and weaves together a new history of performance, challenging us to reexamine the relationship between art and activism, and how we can apply the lessons of that turbulent era to today.