Lorraine O’Grady: Both/And
March 5–July 18, 2021
Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, 4th Floor
Lorraine O’Grady: Both/And is the first retrospective of one of the most significant contemporary figures working in performance, conceptual, and feminist art.
The exhibition features twelve of the major projects O’Grady has produced over her four-decade career and also debuts a much-anticipated new installation. In addition to works presented in the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, five of O’Grady’s projects are installed in collection galleries throughout the Museum, highlighting the artist’s long engagement with art historical omissions and institutional failings related to the creative agency of those excluded from the canon. O’Grady’s radical revisionism of the 1980s and 1990s anticipated themes that have been embraced by a younger generation of artists and thinkers, inspiring them to resist and reshape a world structured by difference and inequity.
For moe info: Brooklyn Museum
Excerpt the New York Times Conversation with Lorraine O’Grady “Both Sides Now”
by Kate Guadagnino
Published Feb. 22, 2021
Updated Feb. 23, 2021, 2:02 p.m. ET
In 1977, in a nod to the Surrealists, the conceptual artist Lorraine O’Grady started cutting phrases out of The New York Times and rearranging them into lines of poetry, which she glued, mostly slantwise, onto sheets of rag paper: “Dinner is reserved for/Twin Speech: A Language of Their Own” reads one spliced fragment. She was in her early 40s. Fifteen years earlier, O’Grady had worked as an intelligence analyst for the federal government. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, she was tasked with reading around 10 international newspapers a day and, as she likes to say, “at a certain point, words just became gelatinous.” But from that experience O’Grady was able to extract new meaning out of language. “I did a poem a week, and when I got to the four-month mark, they started taking off, and I could tell something was happening,” she says, though the knowledge that her own ideas could carry her from one place or plane to the next must have already been familiar. In addition to her time in Washington D. C., her pre-artist life included stints as a translator, a teacher, a student of fiction at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and, as if she weren’t already intimidating enough, a rock critic. “I don’t feel I’ve had much unlived life,” says O’Grady, now 86.
Next month, she’ll be the subject of a major retrospective — her first — at the Brooklyn Museum, its title, “Both/And,” a reference to her rejection of binary thinking, which not only oversimplifies but ultimately tips the scales of perception in favor of one side or the other. Much of O’Grady’s philosophy is informed by her sense of self as a Black American woman with Afro-Caribbean and Irish roots. In her artwork (she’s also a writer, and her 1994 art historical essay “Olympia’s Maid: Reclaiming Black Female Subjectivity,” is considered a canonical feminist text), she often explores the idea of multiplicity through the form of the diptych, which forces the viewer to hold two sides of something in their mind simultaneously. In 2017, O’Grady reworked her newspaper poems, cutting up their contents for a second time and turning them into two-panel haikus. Both versions of the project are included in the exhibition, as is “Miscegenated Family Album” (1980/1994), a series of diptychs in which O’Grady juxtaposes photos of her family with depictions of ancient Egyptian royals, thereby lessening the presumed distance between them.
Read the full conversation HERE