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Complicated Labors COMPLICATED LABORS Curated by Irene Lusztig

Wed, Feb 5, 2014, 6:00 pm to Fri, Feb 7, 2014, 2:59 am

Complicated Labors


feminism, maternity, and creative practice

Curated by Irene Lusztig

February 5 - March 15, 2014

Reception February 5, 5:00-7:00pm

with installation performance by Alejandra Herrera Silva

featuring artists:

Lenka Clayton, Mary Kelly, Natalie Loveless, Irene Lusztig, Jill Miller, Mother Art Collective, Alejandra Herrera Silva, Mierle Laderman Ukeles

also featuring Video Program Artists:

Myrel Chernick, Masha Godovannaya, Beth Hall and Mark and Celia Cooley, Courtney Kessel, Ellina Kevorkian, Dillon Paul and Lindsey Wolkowicz


Symposium on February 5, 2014 at the Digital Arts Research Center Light Lab 306

10am - 5pm with keynote by Mary Kelly at 10:30am

click here for schedule


About Complicated Labors

Nearly forty years after Mary Kelly’s* germinal 1976 exhibition of Post-Partum Document, the work of women artists who explicitly engage with images, processes, and experiences of maternity remains marginalized and relatively misrecognized in the art world.  Despite a notable resurgence of attention to the maternal in 21st Century art theory and practice, such work is more often than not, read inside a discourse of indulgence, sentimentality, and identity rather than as representative of larger concerns with ecological systems, ethics, care, or labor.  Complicated Labors investigates this problem, bringing together historical and contemporary work addressing maternal labor to ask questions about the status of feminism -- and feminist art -- today.  

The exhibition will be accompanied by a one-day symposium on February 5, 2014 at UCSC, with a keynote address by *foundational feminist artist Mary Kelly.  The symposium will create a space for critical interdisciplinary dialogue around issues of maternity, feminism, art-making, and writing, explicitly putting the 1970s in conversation with the current moment and putting writers in conversation with visual artists.


Complicated Labors builds on recent group exhibitions on the topic, including Myrel Chernick’s and Jennie Klein’s 2004 and 2006 Maternal Metaphors and Maternal Metaphors II and Natalie Loveless’s 2010 New Maternalisms. This exhibition addresses recent books such as Andrea Liss’s 2009 Feminist Art and the Maternal, new journals such as Studies in the Maternal, and new collectives such as Broodwork.


This exhibition and symposium are sponsored by Porter College, Oakes College, Merrill College, Stevenson College, UCSC Institute for Humanities Research Complicated Labor research cluster, University of California Institute for Research in the Arts (UCIRA), UCSC Arts Dean’s Excellence Fund, FemCRES at UCSC, and the History of Art and Visual Culture, Art, Film and Digital Media, and Feminist Studies Departments.