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Meet Martha Wilson!

Martha Wilson as Barbara Bush
Martha Wilson performs as Barbara Bush in 2008. (Watch the video here.)

Martha Wilson & the Franklin Furnace
Thursday, May 22
Reception: 6:30 pm; Talk: 7:00–8:30 pm


Have you signed up yet for Martha Wilson’s free talk, May 22 at The Art League? Are you wondering who Martha Wilson is, and what her work is all about? We recently ran across this 2012 interview on the Art21 blog by Emily Colucci, and wanted to share it with you:

Even though it’s always based in performance art, your work has gone through a few different evolutions over the years. How would you describe the progression of your artwork?

Martha Wilson: The work that I started doing from 1971–1974 was photo-text work. I had the concept and then, I would either take the photo myself or have someone else take it for me to find out how the experiment was going. Someone had to take a photo for me so Richard, who was the boyfriend who looked like Marcel Duchamp, who dumped me, did so.

Then Richard dumped my ass and I moved to New York. I decided if I’m going to put my personality together I’m going to do it in New York. I found the feminist movement and discovered the most marvelous, welcoming environment to land in. I started an all-girl band, Disband, which was made up of members who couldn’t play instruments. At that time in the 1970s, everyone was in three bands in the no wave scene. Then, Disband disbanded.

I was doing these live performances as the First Ladies, starting with Nancy Reagan. For decades, my studio consisted of a suitcase where I would carry my heels, my hose, my suit, my wig, my pearls. I still have that suitcase.

Then, Mitchell Algus discovered me in 2008 and asked if I could look back at my work from the 1970’s. So I pulled everything out from under the bed. And my friend said, “Now that you have a dealer you have to ask him for another show.” I didn’t really have any new work, then I thought I could revisit the information in the photo-text works from the perspective of a woman north of 60 years of age.

Read the full Q&A here, which also touches on Franklin Furnace — the artist-run space Wilson founded and directs, and which she’ll be discussing at The Art League. You can see more of Martha Wilson’s work on her website, marthawilson.com, and don’t forget to RSVP!


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