University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee


Martha Wilson

Martha Wilson, from A Portfolio of Models , 1974

June 7 – August 11, 2013

Opening reception on June 7, 5-8pm, Artist Talk at 7pm.

Over the span of her 40-year career, Martha Wilson has embraced the critical questions posed by feminist and socially engaged art. Her complex body of work encompasses conceptually based performances, videos, and photo-text compositions dealing with identity as self-defined, projected, and negotiated. Regarding both gender and identity as fluid expression, Wilson has focused on fictive appearances and double transformations. She was one of the very earliest artists to explore the effects of “camera presence” in self-representation, using masquerade as a form of resistance in manipulating both her internal sense of self and her outward appearance. Wilson has also been a force of transformative change as founder and director of the Franklin Furnace performance space. This exhibition mines all of her experimental practices to examine past and current attitudes toward feminism, activism, and collaborative work.

Martha Wilson is a traveling exhibition organized by Independent Curators International (ICI), New York. Initiating curator for the exhibition is Peter Dykhuis. The exhibition, tour, and catalogue are made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, The Cowles Charitable Trust, the ICI Board of Trustees, and ICI Benefactors Barbara and John Robinson.

Additional programming:

White Table Presents

Problems of Circumstance: Current Topics of Feminism

Thursday, June 27, 7 PM

Artists Ashley Janke and Ashley Coffey present a discussion on sexism in contemporary society through a dialogue of observations and personal accounts with a panel of artists and cultural producers. Additional programs“Feminism in Pop Culture” and “Contemporary Modes of Feminism” will take place at the Portrait Society Gallery and Imagination Giants (dates TBA). Presented in conjunction with The Personal is Political: Martha Wilson and MKE at the Portrait Society Gallery.

The Masculinity Cycle

Nicholas Grider

Part 1: Houdini, Thursday, July 11, 7PM

Part 2: Burden, Saturday, July 27, 1 – 4PM

Nicholas Grider examines the relationship between cultural codes of masculine toughness and the defeat of toughness through loss of physical control. Grider’s performances are loosely modeled on works by iconic performance artists—a Houdini rope trick and a Chris Burden endurance work—and are informed by queer theory. 

In Public

Kim Miller and Isabelle Kralj


Decision is a Choice

Theresa Columbus

Thursday, August 8, 7 PM

In their first collaboration, Kim Miller and Isabelle Kralj are developing a new performance, based upon Soviet poet Vladimir Mayakovsky's Mystery-Bouffe , first staged in 1918 after the Russian Revolution. Mayakovsky believed that future performers of Mystery-Bouffe should change the content, making it contemporary, immediate, up-to-the-minute. The performance addresses the role of the performer as worker vs. artist. Miller and Kralj have taken the text of the play and remixed it and the audience will be invited to perform with them. Spectators are welcome.

Theresa Columbus performs a short work from 2012, as she describes:

You, the audience member, have entered the artist's private/extroverted space, which has the air of backstage, painter's studio, and bedroom. The artist warms up, draws, works on a piece of art made mostly out of fabric, dances, sings, and makes an audio recording of a play, all with the cherished company of mysterious, mysterious audience members (maybe you reader?) The audio play is about conversation, how things are very funny and not funny, clarity, and profound longing. The song is about how you can love a lover, friends, and doing different kinds of work.