Dysmorphic self-portraits jostle for attention with segmented body parts, limbs immersed in nature, and partially obscured studio portraits in sumptuous settings. Yet at no point in the visit to Milk and Night’s Black Mirror: 13 Artists are visitors overwhelmed. Delicately encircling the (at times) amorphous platform that is contemporary feminism, ranging from the highly conceptual to the macabre, Black Mirror: 13 Artists is a cornucopia of earthly delights celebrating artists whose work elevates topics around feminist art. Curated by Coco Dolle, founder of Milk and Night curatorial which invites intersectional and inter-generational insights into contemporary art and feminism, the exhibit is a conceptual and aesthetic tour de force.
Visitors entering the exhibit can consider two images, Free as a Bird by ANGE and Those Preggers Tests by Cindy Hinant, as one potential foray into exploring the exhibit’s comprehensive theme. While ANGE’s work is a humorous look at portraiture, questioning ideas of beauty, identity and constraint, Hinant arguably uses the same linear grid device to free subject matter featured in her artwork. These two images build a foundation from which the exhibit as a whole can be explored.
Works by Leah Schrager, Grace Graupe-Pillard, David Henry Nobody Jr., Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow, Rebecca Goyette and Marie Tomanova explore politics embedded in observing the female body. Juxtaposing women’s bodies across a spectrum of imagery ranging from modern art to the natural environment, these artists force a re-examination women’s bodies as both natural presence and artificial construction. Ellen Jong’s installation asserts autonomy while Pola Esther mounts a subtle examination of the intimate in relation to the public sphere in her durational, site-specific installation hanging in the booth’s Times Square-facing window.
Carol-Anne McFarlane, Leah DeVun and Ventiko observe pageantry, queerness and the fluidity of identity and standards of beauty. DeVun’s vivid portrait of the female body, Beloved Mother, flanked by natural and artificial beauty both obscures and reveals, an aesthetic shared with Ventiko’s work Love, Eternal, a captivating portrait series featuring sitters adorned with various finery while all obscuring their identity in masks of the artist’s’ face. McFarlane’s piece Portrait & Beads similarly obscured and elevates, with tokens of beauty and luxury obscuring the artist’s self-portrait.
Dolle mounts a thoughtful and multivalent approach to contemporary feminist art by allowing artists to meditate on pop culture and introspection in equal measure, making Milk and Night’s Spring/Break offering a must-see.