Picturing the Modern Amazon is the first museum exhibition ever devoted to the representation of the hypermuscular and physically strong woman. Using the bodybuilder as a prototype of the strong woman's problematic position in today's beliefs and debates about women's power, this exhibition will present modern amazons as a culture with a history, as a dazzling and transgressive current phenomenon, and as avatars of the future. The hypermuscular woman is a key that unlocks ideas about contemporary women's power both as a reality and as an image. Her particular physicality resonates with the significance of large social issues such as female pleasure and corporeality and the dynamics of bodily and social power.
The exhibition consists of three sections: historical images, contemporary works, and comics. The historical images date from 1783 to the present. The contemporary section includes over forty artists, many of whose works were created specifically for the exhibition and feature bodybuilders who posed for the artists. Contemporary artists include Matthew Barney, Louise Bourgeois, Judy Chicago, Renee Cox, Nicole Eisenman, Jane Hammond, Oliver Herring, Alfred Leslie, Annie Leibovitz, Mary Ellen Mark, Susan Meiselas, Herb Ritts, Alison Saar, Andres Serrano, Cindy Sherman, Nancy Spero, and Barbara Zucker. Comics artists are represented by comic strips, comic books, and unique art works that focus on muscular female characters and superheroes. They include Jennifer Camper, Robert Crumb, Diane DiMassa, Roberta Gregory, John Howard and Turtel Onli.
Picturing the Modern Amazon is a collaboration between women bodybuilders, athletes, artists, scholars, feminists, and historians. The exhibition is being organized by Laurie Fierstein, a bodybuilder and social activist; Joanna Frueh, an art historian, art critic, and performance artist; and Judith Stein, a curator and critic. An accompanying catalogue, published by Rizzoli International, includes lavish illustrations, scholarly essays, nonfiction writings, and five interviews with female bodybuilders.
Events accompanying the exhibition include a performance by female bodybuilders and symposia featuring artists, bodybuilders, scholars, historians, and the exhibition co-curators.
Photo: Janet Cooling, Three Views of Fran, 1998.
Grisaille, Oil on canvas, 96 x 100". Picturing Fran Ferraro. Courtesy of the artist. This image may not be reproduced in any form without the permission of the New Museum of Contemporary Art.
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