Artist: Margaret Harrison
Venue: Silberkuppe, Berlin
Exhibition Title: BEAUTIFUL UGLY VIOLENCE
Date: September 13 – November 1, 2014
Full gallery of images, press release and link available after the jump.
Images courtesy of the artist and Silberkuppe, Berlin. Photos by Timo Ohler.
BEAUTIFUL UGLY VIOLENCE (2014) is the second SILBERKUPPE solo show of distinguished British second-wave feminist artist Margaret Harrison (b.1940). The title of the exhibition reprises an exhibition in 2004 at the Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco. At that time Harrison produced a new suite of works examining the specter of violence against women globally. A key work with an eponymous title consists of a five paneled, human-scaled, mixed media collage work incorporating research materials overlaid with watercolour images drawing attention to the harrowing facts. Categories include: murder, executions, mutilation and slavery. It has lost none of its relevance or impact in the decade since. Accompanying this work are a series of oil on canvas paintings lushly depicting a collection of everyday objects that have been used as weapons against women. At the time of their making Harrison noted: ”instead of bodies, I used actual things, so that the objects themselves become the focus… with the beauty of paint, you can convey the horror more subtly.”
Harrison is well-known for her brand of post-pop feminism expressed most directly in gender-bending drawings and watercolours lampooning popular images of heroic masculinity, interspersed with sensuous pinups – sexuality embracing parodies of women as erotic consumables. (Harrison noted that for socially engaged British artists of the 1970s US Pop art was just about celebrating consumption or ‘selling something’.) Notably these works also were begun long before the ‘sex positivism’ of the early 1990s. Both aspects already formed part of her first exhibition in SILBERKUPPE PREOCCUPY (2012). In somber contrast in this new exhibition is one painting from a series titled Marilyn is Dead! (1994), painted after the police file image of the icon’s body. Now in the light of five decades of working as an artist, educator, researcher – two paintings from the late 1960s – abstracted depictions of marine invertebrates (creatures with bodies both vulnerable and protected) mark a moment in the artist’s beginnings where the influence of Pop art aesthetics can be seen as already in her mind and later work issue-driven art-making would its form.