artist / participant
The Centro Galego de Arte Contemporanea in Santiago de Compostela, Spain is proud to present the work of American artist, Nancy Spero, in her first museum exhibition in Spain from 24 September 2004 through 6 January 2005. Known and exhibited internationally throughout a career that spans more than five decades, Spero’s dialectical vision lays bare the timeless and universal reality of oppression even as it celebrates the indomitable human spirit and struggle for autonomy. Spanish audiences will now have an opportunity to view signature works by this respected American artist and experience directly the expansive, cross-cultural vision that speaks not only of and to women, but also of and to all people of all epochs who have been victims of or witnesses to tyrannical power structures. Relevant through the decades of the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, Spero’s art has a voice that can be heard with a new resonance in the 21st century.
Spero, who is widely acknowledged as a pioneer in feminist art, has been an inspiration to several generations of artists for having challenged the status quo in ideological, humanitarian and aesthetic domains. It was in a spirit of defiance at being outcast both as a woman and an artist that, starting in the 1960s, led Spero to pursue provocative subject matter and iconoclastic approaches to materials, process and space. Rejecting oil on canvas, she devised a process of collaging small stamped images and splintered texts onto sheets of paper which she glued end to end and pinned directly on the wall. The fragility of the paper, the open-endedness of the scroll format, and the processes of printing and collaging texts and images that are recycled, repeated and juxtaposed are, today, widely recognized as Spero’s signature elements.
Santiago de Compostela has been a major pilgrimage destination since the 9th century owing to the discovery of relics of St. James there. Its historic and symbolic splendor as a Christian Mecca is rivaled by the region’s deep-seeded Celtic roots and legends—the combination of which makes for an inspiring setting for Spero’s art of celebration and suffering with its panoply of women from ancient times through the present. Moreover, the dramatic light, lines, surfaces, and shifts in scale of the contemporary building housing the museum, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect, Alvaro Siza, offer ideal circumstances for viewing Spero’s epic narratives which extend horizontally across and vertically into real space.
Organized by New York-based, independent curator, Susan Harris who has a longstanding working relationship with the artist, Nancy Spero: Weighing the Heart Against a Feather of Truth features masterworks from throughout the artist’s oeuvre that will be installed throughout the vast entrance hall and the ground floor galleries, culminating in the double-height gallery that is the heart of the museum. Spero’s Paris Black Paintings (1957-64), War Paintings (1966-69), Codex Artaud (1971-73), Hours of the Night (1974), Torture of Women (1976), Black and the Red III (1994), and Hours of the Night II (2001) are included in the exhibition along with personages from Spero’s lexicon of women from ancient, mythical, and contemporary sources installed directly on the walls of the vast Entrance Hall. The exhibition hopes to offer fresh insights into the amplitude and generosity of the artist’s oeuvre and to examine the diversity of her accomplishments as a visual artist and as a spokeswoman for a moral, activist, and inclusive world-view. Spero maintains a commitment to having her voice heard as her work continues to evolve and is more powerful than ever. With this soulful presentation of Spero’s historic and contemporary work, one hopes that we will find renewed meaning in its message and its spirit, and draw strength from its universal wisdom.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated publication. It will include substantive essays by the curator, Spanish writer Juan Vicente Aliaga, and two notable art historian/curators, Jo Anna Isaak and Diana Nemiroff—each of whom have worked with Spero in the past, and who will continue to investigate her art and art-making practices within a larger historical and contemporary context, particularly in light of the current political and social climate.
Susan Harris Susan Harris is a curator and writer of contemporary art based in New York City. She has a Master’s Degree in Art History from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. She has written extensively on Nancy Spero including Dancing in Space for the 1994 Malmo Konstall exhibition catalogue and Nancy Spero: Of Joy and Despair for Leon Golub and Nancy Spero: the 3rd Hiroshima Art Prize. Her recent curatorial projects include two Richard Tuttle exhibitions at the MuseuSerralves in Porto, Portugal and at the Centro Galego de Arte Contemporanea in Santiago, Spain. She authored the publication, Richard Tuttle: Memento/cENTER that accompanied these exhibitions. Prior to this, she was a curator of The American Century: 1950-2000 at the Whitney Museum of American Art. In addition to curating the Nancy Spero exhibition at CGAC, she is currently working on monographic exhibitions for Jim Hodges, and Barry Le Va. She is also a contributing writer for Art in America and Tema Celeste. Pressetext
Nancy Spero: Weighing the Heart Against a Feather of Truth
Kuratorin: Susan Harris
Kordination: Monique Lambie