December 7, 2006
MOCA’s latest exhibition reveals the early years of the ‘Feminist Revolution’
(Page 2 - Previous Page)We could view feminism through the lens of prejudice, oppression or whatever related catch-phrase comes to mind. And that might explain the unusually significant number of "artists of color" (e.g., Betye Saar, Howardena Pindell, Judith Francisca Baca, Yoko Ono, Nasreen Mohamedi) some from the United States, others from around the globe.
While this international approach suggests the reach of feminism, it's difficult to know in advance whether the exhibition's range will actually help us gain a better sense of feminist issues or simply confuse matters. After all, the problems of women vary greatly in different countries, and the issues of an American woman are totally different from those of women in many Islamic countries. But it's the job of an exhibition to persuade the viewer -- and I look forward to being persuaded.
This shouldn't be seen as déj? vu all over again. No museum has attempted anything quite this ambitious, and the time now, with its distance from the period covered seems right. Because the issues of feminism remain current, whatever the name they are given today. The Jewish Publication Society has just published a "gender sensitive" translation of the Torah; Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and other non-Orthodox seminaries have an increasingly high proportion of women rabbinical students. Retrospectives provide us with important opportunities to assess the past from our perspective, and to consider what it means to the world now. Since the 1970s, the landscape has changed radically for Jews. Will we find, upon viewing these feminists' work, that the same is true for women?
The museum is located at 152 N. Central Ave., Los Angeles. For more information, visit www.moca.org/museum/moca_geffen.php.
Tom L. Freudenheim is a retired museum director who writes about art and cultural issues.
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