Jen Liu: Still from The Pink Detachment, 2015

Utopia Is No Place, Utopia Is Process will transform Usdan Gallery at Bennington College into a space for critical feminist pedagogy. On view from April 12 to May 12, the project is inspired by Bennington’s experimental curricula and its history as a women’s college. In addition to works of art, resources such as a crowd-sourced library, printing press, meeting space, and discussion groups will be available for autonomous and collective investigation.

The Clearing: or Cortez and La Malinche, Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, N. and Me, 1991/2012 by Lorraine O’Grady is a touchstone for the space. O’Grady, a pioneering artist and scholar, works across installation, performance and text to reckon with issues of hybridity, diaspora culture, and black female subjectivity. The Clearing is a difficult work: the left panel presents an entwined inter-racial couple, floating in the sky, their clothes abandoned on the ground, across from some playing children; and in the right panel, a chain-mail covered, skeletal figure looms threateningly above a vacant-looking African American woman. The work articulates what Grady calls the “both/and”, the way in which desire is complicated, irresolvable, always imbricated with the narratives of imperialist, white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.

Utopia is No Place, Utopia is Process features a new work by Toronto-based artist Ella Dawn McGeough, specifically created for the exhibition. Memorial for the present is the future of the past consists of 13 printed silk banners, stretching over 40 feet in length. On the banners is printed the image of a cross section of fossilized coral. The emerged from the artist’s research on the Medusa myth. Through as series of material analogies, Memorial for the present is the future of the past creates a space for reflection on trauma and time. The artist will discuss this work and her larger practice in an artist talk at Usdan Gallery on April 18, 2016.

The guiding principles of Utopia Is No Place, Utopia Is Process are collaborative learning and horizontal organization. The library has been crowdsourced from a diverse group of self-identified feminists. A call was sent out for people to lend books that have been important to their thinking about gender and feminism, particularly those texts that are unexpected or non-canonical. Lenders for the project include writer Wendy Vogel, artists Mary Mattingly, Penelope Umbrico, and Sam Vernon, and curator Catherine Morris.

Similarly, participants are encouraged to contribute to the pilot press… library. Created by art historian, Jennifer Kennedy and artist, Liz Linden, pilot press… is a D.I.Y. feminist publishing house that provides a non-hierarchical, unedited, and uncensored look at the self-identified feminist community. Visitors may print and bind as many copies of their work as they like; in exchange for this free publication service, they are required to leave a single bound copy of their publications in the pilot press… library.

The exhibition will also include a selection of recent video works. These works illustrate the range of voices and artistic strategies within contemporary feminist perspectives.  Works by Genevieve Belleveau, Hannah Black, Adrienne Crossman, Kate Gilmore, Gabriella Hileman, Ann Hirsch, Nicole Killian, Jen Liu, Kristin Lucas, Divya Mehra, Sunita Prasad, Legacy Russell, and Angela Washko explore themes such as violence, romance, science fiction, and failed utopias.

Utopia Is No Place project site.

Organized by faculty member Robert Ransick.

Lorraine O’Grady: The Clearing: or Cortés and La Malinche, Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, N. and Me, 1991. Gelatin Silver prints. 20″ x 24″ each. (Original diptych)

Nicole Killian: Internet Weather Report, 2013

Divya Mehra: still from The Importance of Being Earnest, 2009

Gabriella Hileman: still from hologram machine for the modern cyber femme, 2014

Opening reception

Monday, April 18, 6:30pm-8:30pm

Gallery Hours

Tuesday – Saturday, 1:00PM – 5:00PM

Note: The gallery will be closed from April 13-17.

Featured Artists

Genevieve Belleveau

Hannah Black

Adrienne Crossman

Kate Gilmore

Gabriella Hileman

Ann Hirsch

Jen Kennedy & Liz Linden/Contemporary Feminism

Nicole Killian

Jen Liu

Kristin Lucas

Ella Dawn McGeough

Divya Mehra

Lorraine O’Grady

Sunita Prasad

Legacy Russell

Angela Washko

Jacqueline Mabey/failed projects

Calendar
Curator’s Talk

Monday, April 18, 1pm

Curator-in-residence, Jacqueline Mabey, will lead a tour of the exhibition, Utopia Is No Place, Utopia Is Process.

Utopia is No Place, Utopia is Process Opening Reception

Monday, April 18, 6:30pm – 8:30pm

Brown Bag Lunch

Wednesday, April 20, 12:30pm – 1:30pm

Feminist origin stories. An informal conversation about our relationships to feminism and how they have changed (or not) with time.

Curator-in-Residence Office Hours

Wednesday, April 20, 1pm – 5pm

Curator in Residence, Jacqueline Mabey, will be available for drop-in conversations.

Brown Bag Lunch

Friday, April 22, 12:30pm – 1:30pm

What we talk about when we talk about safe spaces. An open conversation about safe spaces.

Do It Yourself Utopias

Saturday, April 23, 1pm – 3pm

The Bennington community is invited to to self-organize conversations, study groups, creative practices, etc. in the gallery. Those interested should reach out to Jacqueline Mabey by email, jacqueline@failedprojects.net.

Brown Bag Lunch

Tuesday, April 26, 12:30pm – 1:30pm

“Hangin’ with some girls I’ve never seen before.” An open discussion of feminism and gender in pop culture.

Curator-in-Residence Office Hours

Wednesday, April 27, 1pm – 5pm

Curator in Residence, Jacqueline Mabey, will be available for drop-in conversations.

Brown Bag Lunch

Friday, April 29, 12:30pm – 2pm

Viewing and discussion of Lorraine O’Grady’s 2012 Adams-Tillim Lecture at Bennington College.

Do It Yourself Utopias

Saturday, April 30, 1pm – 3pm

The Bennington community is invited to to self-organize conversations, study groups, creative practices, etc. in the gallery. Those interested should reach out to Jacqueline Mabey by email, jacqueline@failedprojects.net.

Brown Bag Lunch

Tuesday, May 3, 12:30pm – 1:30pm

Friendship as a model for feminism.

Guest Speaker: Lindsay Howard

Tuesday, May 3, 6:30pm – 7:30pm

Lindsay Howard is a curator exploring how the internet is shaping art and culture. Her work uses experimental curatorial models to reflect what she sees as an essential shift in contemporary culture, specifically a growing interest in collaborative creativity, open source philosophy, and unlimited access to information.

Curator-in-Residence Office Hours

Wednesday, May 4, 1pm – 5pm

Curator in Residence, Jacqueline Mabey, will be available for drop-in conversations.

Brown Bag Lunch

Friday, May 6, 12:30pm – 1:30pm

Future feminisms. A speculative discussion on the future of feminism.

Guest Speaker: Jen Liu

Friday, May 6, 6:30pm – 7:30pm

Jen Liu is a New York based visual artist working in video, painting, and performance. Her most recent performance commission for six dancers, The Red Detachment of Women, premiered at the Whitney Museum of Art in 2015, and her most recent video, The Machinist’s Lament, featured in the 2015 Berlinale and The New Museum in 2015, among others. She attended Oberlin College with a double major in Creative Writing and Studio Art (BA) and CalArts for Fine Arts with a minor in Integrated Media (MFA).

Brown Bag Lunch

Friday, May 10, 12:30pm – 1:30pm

In this final Brown Bag Lunch, we will discuss the work made over the course of the exhibition.

Curator’s Talk

Tuesday, May 10, 6:30pm – 7:30pm

Curator-in-residence, Jacqueline Mabey, will lead a tour of the exhibition, Utopia Is No Place, Utopia Is Process.

Curator-in-Residence Office Hours

Wednesday, May 11, 1pm – 5pm

Curator in Residence, Jacqueline Mabey, will be available for drop-in conversations.