Author: Bill Previdi --- Date: 04/18/96 --- Copyright: ThingReviews NYC

Inside the Visible
Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
January 31 - May 12, 1996

When Milena Kalinovska took over the directorial helm at Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art, her aim was to bring programming of a more international nature to that city . Her latest effort (along with visiting curator M. Catherine de Zegher) now on show in the ICA's galleries, is no exception. Of the 37 women artists exhibited, I recognized only 13 names, 8 of whom work or have worked in the United States.

The charge of opening up the eyes of a city so provincial as Boston to art of a broader, more international scope is commendable. But it cannot be achieved at the risk of losing focus on art as a visual entity. This show's overall visual impact was colorless and draining in its tepidity. In fact, color seemed estranged for the most part. Oddly, all of the work in the main gallery is predominantly white. The effect of hanging Avis Newman's white 7 foot square painting "Webs" (1994) next to Hanne Darboven's scribbled 'notations' and across from yet another white installation by the Brazilian artist Mira Schendel has the visual drama of a soggy paper towel. Downstairs, a rather large collection of Louise Bourgeois' totem-like sculptures is crammed into a tiny space that forces viewers to stand only inches from Ana Mendieta's photographs from the "Silueta Works" (1973-77) series in Mexico. Intentional? One would hope not. Worse still, Martha Rosler's collages from the Vietnam war have the honor of being hung in a room darkened to show a video. Upstairs, two of Ellen Gallagher's "Untitled" paintings hang across from...guess who? Agnes Martin. Am I the only one who has grown tired of such a simplistic comparison? Neither painter seeks to achieve similar ends, and hanging them together doesn't do either justice. What could be a beautiful respite among busier, more colorful artworks, here becomes a disparaging void; the effect of which I can only liken to being in an office full of cubicles after everyone has left on holiday.

Despite the poor installation and choice of colorless works, there were some very pleasant discoveries. Olga Carol Rama's watercolors abound with phalluses and a feminist vigor that belies the dates of their creation (the 1940s). Claude Cahun's androgynous self portraits also seem to have been made before their time (the late 1920's), and may have been catalysts for artists such as Yasumasa Morimura, Lyle Ashton Harris, and Collier Schorr. Nadine Tasseel's black and white untitled photographs (1992) are exceptionally seductive in their gothic sensibility and rich print quality. And although it seems the ICA often hangs Francesca Woodman's brooding self-portaits, it's never a disapointment when they do. For an artist who died so young, she sure gets a lot of play up there, and I'm not complaining. These pieces are incredible. And for anyone who hasn't seen them, they alone are worth the admission price.

--Bill Previdi

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Mark St. Armand --

I liked it.

Spiak --

Check out the installation by Daniel Wheeler All the best, Spiak


P.S. For the above Daniel Wheeler installation:

Lorenzo Corbella --

Hallo mister Bill, I'm a italian student of Architecture and i'm looking for some information regarding the way of thinking of Olga Carol Rama and if possible also some opera's pics. Thanks a lot, Lorenzo Corbella E-mail or

c.ashley --

i am currently writing a dissertation comparing the curatorial practises of 'inside the visible' with those of 'mining the museum', an installation by fred wilson at the maryland historical society.any comments would be appreciated

Fiona Syms --

I am currently working on a presentation for graduate class I have been asked to find every once of information on these 6 artists. I have exsausted the library and the Net, but I have still not completed my assignment. I am mainly in need of Biographies of these artists. Could you please help me on any new information you have on these African American Artists? Fred Wilson, Ellen Gallagher, Marlon Riggs, Kara Walker, Thornton Dial, and Kerry James Marshall. Any help that you could give me would be greatly appriciated. Thank you Fiona C. Syms

WWAnderson --

So the ICA would seem to be a feminist/artist showplace. Is this true?