We Interrupt Your Program at Mills College


Organized by independent curator Marcia Tanner for the Art Museum at Mills College, "We Interrupt Your Program" presents fourteen artists whose video and new media works seek to disrupt systems of power. The exhibition, which opened January 16, 2008, follows shortly after what some have called "the year of the woman" for its multiple, rigorous historical exhibitions on feminist art, such as "Global Feminisms" at the Brooklyn Museum of Art and "WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution" at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. While "We Interrupt Your Program" shows work by women only, it presents feminism at its most expansive and best: as a critical lens through which to connect to other social categories, such as nationality, class and religion. And, where iconic "year of the woman" shows focused on historical work, "We Interrupt Your Program" is a look at some of the leading lights in a new generation of feminist artists. The idea of home is a theme amongst several of the works. For instance, in Body Double (2006) San-Francisco-based artist Stephanie Syjuco presents a video triptych that features three Vietnam-era films, Platoon, Apocalypse Now and Hamburger Hill, whose soundtracks have been silenced and images of combat footage razed, leaving only a fragmented landscape and a heavily mediated picture of home and loss. Speaking to the increasing use of documents in art (see "Archive Fever" at the International Center of Photography), the Recovery Channels (1998-2005) by Nina Katchadourian invites viewers to watch fourteen-plus hours of footage from discarded video-tapes the artist retrieved from the streets of New York between 1998 and 2005. The abandoned tapes contain imagery from TV shows, soap operas and news broadcasts, much of which would be unforgettable to people tapped into mass media culture during those years. Recovered but not forgotten, the tapes speak to the pervasiveness of mass media imagery, while the accumulated static and glitches on each gives the viewer room to reflect. Double Bubble (2001) by Maja Bajeciv features the artist reciting fictitious religious mantras in vacant settings whose, in Tanner's words, "impersonal geometries suggest institutional power and the radical chiaroscuro of a black-and-white view of the world." Her monologues evoke the power of religion and the ways it is deployed against its original principles. Also including work by Maria Antelman, Maria Friberg, Julia Page, Shannon Plumb, Jean Shin, Renetta Sitoy, Julianne Swartz, Stephanie Syjuco, Claudia X. Valdes, Anne Walsh, Gail Wight and Rhizome's Marisa Olson, "We Interrupt Your Program" carries a fresh, international take on feminism into 2008. - Lauren Cornell

Image: Nina Katchadourian, the Recovery Channels, 1998-2005