Artforum Magazine Reviews 'Martha Wilson: Staging the Self'
October 2, 2012
Artforum.com (New York, N.Y.) recently reviewed Arcadia University Art Gallery's current exhibition, Martha Wilson: Staging the Self, which runs through Nov. 4. The installation "casts Wilson as being savvy to the ever-shifting ways in which values are mediated while doggedly preserving safe spaces for alternative forms of art and life," writes Becky Huff Hunter in her review.
Working deftly with selections from a vast archive of materials collated by curator Peter Dykhuis, director Richard Torchia has installed an elegant, visual chronology and reference library within Arcadia University’s compact gallery. Particularly dazzling gems are to be found in three distinct groupings of short videos displayed on three monitors, focusing on the artist’s early-1970s work in Halifax, Canada; her 1980s performances with feminist art-punk gang DISBAND; and her later individual practice. Grainy, black-and-white videotape captures oddly cheery, narrated performances such as Deformation, 1974, in which the artist becomes progressively more vulnerable and ugly with the help of makeup and lighting. More recent works like Wilson’s politicized drag acts—where she poses in wigs and pearls as madcap versions of First and Second Ladies—are darkly comedic and raise crucial questions about arts funding, censorship, and the social value of creative work.