The strategy of archiving is seen most obviously in Suzanne Lacy and Leslie Labowitz’s piece Restricted Access (2007), which presents a massive wall of white file boxes containing documentation and press of their feminist activism and artwork from the 1970s to the present. At first glance, one wonders why spend so much time with this archive? Why here? Why now? The answer is that Lacy and Labowitz are part of a larger movement that is shining a light on feminist art history, much of which until recently had been overlooked. If Lacy and Labowitz didn’t share their material with a new generation of artists, it might be lost.
In addition to Lacy’s, Labowitz’s, and Bowers’s contributions, The Way That We Rhyme brings the feminist past into the present in other ways. Tammy Rae Carland’s Outpost (2004-06) documents the lesbian back-to-the-land movement. Her color photographs empathetically render sites of current and former communes where women live and work under their own codes of existence. Recalling the historical intersection of feminism and labor activism, the color photographs in Beecroft Intervention (2001-2004) by the collective Toxic Titties documents the Titties efforts to unionize female models for a photo-shoot by artist Vanessa Beecroft.
The Way That We Rhyme emphasizes the fluidity of feminism as an ongoing project. From the first piece of ephemera in the first box of Restricted Access to the last viewer, the exhibition builds on top of the work of women artists before us and around us, and makes room for those who will come after us.
Aimee Le Duc is an arts administrator and freelance writer living and working in San Francisco. Her critical writing appears in publications such as Artweek, Camerawork, and The Journal of Aesthetics and Protest. She holds a Masters degree in Visual Criticism as well as an MFA in Writing from California College of the Arts. Le Duc is currently the Associate Director at Southern Exposure.