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A Woman Without Labels

May 26, 2010

Mask of Persephone (Suzanne Benton), mythical archetype beloved by Margaret Fuller, introduces the journey: Woman of the 21st Century: Margaret Fuller and the Sacred Marriage

“Humanity is divided into Men, Women, and Margaret Fuller”

— Edgar Allan Poe

Tanya Ragir installing Sacred Geometry
at the Pierre Menard Gallery, May 22, 2010
…the sixth piece of the hexagon

The installation of the exhibition went off without a hitch, until we reached the discussion about labels.  To have them or not have them?  I was fierce about not wanting labels, having had just written a Critical Trilogy post about witnessing a new momentum in the New York art world with Richard Humann’s creative decision to forgo labels for his splendid integration of organic and human-formed imbedded into Nature of the Beast at HP Garcia Gallery, a move that aroused the ire of critics.

"A Portfolio of Models" by Martha Wilson; 1974 vintage photo/text series in its first appearance outside New York City

The point is, it is time to publicly reconcile this internal struggle between opposites, as Martha Wilson pioneered in her seminal A Portfolio of Models (left) which reveals an outer “modeling” of the inner archetypes of masculine and feminine.

Although the photo/text series was created in 1974, this is the first time the vintage prints are being shown outside of New York City.  When I literally backed into Martha when I was standing before them stunned, at Mitchell Algus Gallery in the spring of 2008, I asked her where she had been hiding them.  She replied, “Under the bed!”

No joke!  It seems that this Mother of downtown performance (www.franklinfurnace.org), which seems to have birthed every star in the performance art galaxy, was awaiting a new time for her own post-gender inventions to be placed in its proper timing.  What better context than a show about Margaret Fuller, which opens under three planetary oppositions!

Reconciling the oppositions (male/female, dark/light, insider/outsider, conscious/unconscious) is what Woman in the 21st Century: Margaret Fuller and the Sacred Marriage is all about!!

Tanya Ragir after completing the hexagon

Finally, after a discussion that engaged critic Francine Koslow Miller,  who wandered in during the hanging

Gallery owner John Wronoski, Francine Koslow Miller and her husband, Mark, and myself in discussion about labels during the hanging of Woman in the 21st Century

because she was getting a watch fixed nearby, I relented and said, before leaving the gallery:  “OK, If you want to have labels on the works, then do it.”

“Art can only be truly art by presenting an adequate outward symbol of some fact in the interior life.”

–Margaret Fuller

"Woman in the 21st Century: Margaret Fuller and the Sacred Marriage" opening at the Pierre Menard Galery, 6:00 PM, Cambridge Mass.

By the morning of Fuller’s birthday, when I awoke in the surreal environment of the Royal Sonesta hotel, where I was staying with Tanya,  I realized that the outward struggle with labels was a projection of an internal dynamism: Saturn opposing Uranus on my Pisces Moon.  This was confirmed by my hotel room rendering of the chart for the opening.

By the time I talked to the gallery director, Andrea Kalinowski, who warned me to “be ready for signage,” I realized that the outward symbol of my interior struggle — the very symbol that  Margaret Fuller defined as art  — was manifested by the holism of this show.  In fact, hanging the exhibition was such a joy because it felt as if every piece of a metaphysical and transcendent puzzle was coming into form (the cardinal cross in the opening chart) —  a long cherished dream come true at last!

The struggle for the messy content of the birth of a new archetype to make it to a marketplace demanding slickness and confinement!

There is a finality, one that I have been praying for, to this aspect.  What better sign did I need than the impromptu arrival of a critic arriving due to the need to fix her watch nearby!  The timer, Saturn, imposing on my nine year journey of Uranus in the collective unconscious (my 12th house in Pisces), and giving warning that it is time to face the marketplace — its demands for labels and categorization.

Andrea Kalinowski, director of Pierre Menard Gallery before mask of Persephone (Suzanne Benton)

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