press release

Girls' Night Out brings together the work of an international and intergenerational group of women artists whose works in photography and video reflect a new approach to issues of femininity and identity. The artists in Girls' Night Out create works that possess a quasi- documentary feel and a directness of approach as they engage with such classical art genres as self-portraiture, portraiture (especially featuring young women in the passage from girlhood to adulthood), and landscape. Some of their shared themes include provocative inquiries into youth culture, new notions of beauty, ethnographic techniques mixed with fashion devices, and an interest in journalistic aspects of the media. Formally rigorous and aesthetically resolved, this seemingly traditional imagery is infused by lyricism and psychological complexity.

The historical context for Girls' Night Out is found in the photography, film, and performance art of the 1970s and 1980s, which addressed social and political themes, often through provocative satire or irony. The open, fluid approach to gender and sexuality evident in the works in Girls' Night Out is informed by the pioneering conceptual and aesthetic stance of earlier artists but also represents a significant rupture with it. This new work confidently explores female identity without the need to challenge or critique feminine archetypes. The resulting imagery is as uncertain, contradictory, and filled with possibility as the adolescents these artists often portray.

Working with moving images in the form of multichannel video installations, thirty- five-millimeter films and broadcast television spots, Eija-Liisa Ahtila is an accomplished and poetic storyteller, skillfully manipulating, contradicting and often dismantling the conventions of cinema and narrative. In her tightly woven works, ordinary people are caught up in the more troubling aspects of their personal lives: a couple's marriage breaks up, an adolescent girl rebels against her mother, a young woman struggles with the effects of a mental illness.

Elina Brotherus's works are characterized by their sincere and straightforward treatment of her life as subject matter. Whether depicting her own deep emotions, milestones in her life, or the landscapes of her surroundings, Brotherus bravely confronts her life and her image in remarkable ways producing works of extraordinary honesty.

Working in photography, video, performance, installation and social actions since the late 1970s, Dorit Cypis has pursued an ongoing exploration of how the body is represented in art and the complexities of looking, seeing and being seen. Mirrors, reflective surfaces, and images of the camera itself are some of the recurring elements in Cypis's recent works exploring perception and the body.

Rineke Dijkstra's stark and brutally honest large-scale portraits and video works are marked by their capacity to express the beauty in flawed or vulnerable subjects. On the occasion of Girls' Night Out, Dijkstra worked with young ballet dancers from Santa Ana's Saint Joseph Ballet in Orange County. These highly sympathetic portraits, like those in all of Dijkstra's series, have heroic qualities, capturing the dignity of her young subjects.

Katy Grannan creates portraits that engage a variety of related fields, including fine art, journalism, and fashion. With sitters she finds through small-town newspaper ads, Grannan's portraits are remarkably sensitive and intimate, staged in the collaboration with the sitter, with an approach that has been described as "pseudo-documentary".

Whether photographing moody teenagers, solitary urban gardens and parks, or therapists' empty offices, Sarah Jones creates complex and seductive images that are marked by alienation and absence. In one of Jones' most well known series, she photographed three teenage girls as they posed in their parents' formal dining and sitting rooms, skillfully revealing the conflicts, tensions and angst of adolescence.

Kelly Nipper creates austere and carefully executed works based in photography, video, and performance, which explore nuances related to time, space, and dimension. Often employing dancers and meticulously choreographed activities and movements, Nipper's works are poetic studies of motion.

Daniela Rossell creates sumptuous and outrageous images of privileged young women that are equal parts ethnographic document and society portrait. Ricas y famosas is Rossella's ongoing series of photographic portraits of members of Mexico City's nouveau riche class posed in the private spaces of their opulent homes.

Shirana Shahbazi makes photographs that explore the complexities of contemporary Iranian culture through a series of cityscapes, landscapes, portraits, and images of everyday life. In her images, Shahbazi presents heroic and surprising images of Iranian life, presenting new icons of Islamic culture and contradicting the cliches associated with her native country.

Salla Tykka creates works in photography and video that focus on themes of self-awareness and empowerment. Her works are marked by highly cinematic images, evocative and open-ended narratives, and bold portrayals of internal struggles.

Girls' Night Out was organized by the Orange County Museum of Art and was curated by Deputy Director of Programs and Chief Curator Elizabeth Armstrong and Curator of Contemporary Art Irene Hofmann. After its presentation at the Orange County Museum of Art, Girls' Night Out travels to the Addison Art Gallery, Andover, Massachusetts; Aspen Art Museum, Colorado; Contemporary Art Museum, Saint Louis; and the Blaffer Gallery, the Art Museum of the University of Houston.

Girls' Night Out is accompanied by a 132-page catalogue published by the Orange County Museum of Art. This beautifully illustrated full-color catalogue will be available through the Orange County Museum of Art Store Pressetext

only in german

Girls' Night Out
Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Elina Brotherus, Dorit Cypis, Rineke Dijkstra, Katy Grannan, Sarah Jones, Kelly Nipper, Daniela Rossell, Shirana Shahbazi, Salla Tykkä