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Mapping Rape: Cartography and Feminist Art

Cartography isn't a normal medium for feminist art, but when it comes to mapping rape reports it does.

In 1977, Los Angeles was called the USA rape capital. Nearly 2,400 rapes were reported to police that year alone. Less than 10% of the rapes were reported to police. In 2011 LA’s reported rape count stands at 683.

Suzanne Lacy's "Three Weeks in May" from May 1977 mapped rape reports in L.A. county. It was one of the most important examples of feminist art from California during the 1970s.

Below: In 2012 Suzanne Lacy created "Three Weeks in January", a redux of her original show from 1977. The map is on display outside of LAPD Headquarters in downtown LA until February 1st 2012.

La Lutxona

Blanca Amezkua, La Lutxona, 2007; embroidery on cotton fabric and crochet, 30 x 31,”.

Body Gesture

Body Gesture: A Group Exhibition of Feminist Art is at Elizabeth Leach Gallery. 10:30 am-5:30 pm Tuesday-Saturday. Closes January 28th 2012 (today, sorry for the late post).

The feminist art show features thoughtful and provocative artwork as it explores feminist themes such as body image, gender polarization and a woman’s right to choose. The artwork is by 17 artists who hail from the feminist art movement’s heyday in the 1960s and ’70s, but several younger artists rode in on feminism’s second and third waves.

Below: Nicole Eisenman's "Brillo".

Rachel Kneebone's The Descent

Rachel Kneebone's sculptural women are perched on pedestals, their torsos deformed and twisted, their arms intertwined with flowers and plants creating abstract shapes in a hellscape.

Kneebone's most ambitious work includes "The Descent," from 2008.

"The Descent" is a 11½-by-5-foot porcelain caldron filled with hundreds of tiny human forms being pulled into a hellish pit. Kneebone's figures become more abstract the deeper they fall into hell. She notes, to "the loss of the individual, of self" amid chaos.

Kneebone says her inspiration was Rodin's magnum opus, "The Gates of Hell" (1880-1917), a pair of monumental doors illustrating Dante's "Divine Comedy".

Catherine Morris, the curator of the Brooklyn Museum's Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, says there is a striking resemblance between the feminist art of Rachel Kneebone and Auguste Rodin.

Rodin was famous for affairs with his models, but instead it was often "personal, sensual, physical," she says. "Rachel takes that same notion and feminizes it."

Rachel Kneebone, 38, studied at the Royal College of Art in London where porcelain caught her interest early on. "Porcelain is a very definite material," she says. "It has boundaries within its possibilities and I work with or against them, depending on what I am asking in the work."

"Rachel Kneebone: Regarding Rodin" runs through August 12th 2012 at the Brooklyn Museum's Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art.
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