Feminine desires past and present in an exhibition, a biography, and a book of poems.
Triple ruffled at the wrist, her lace-gloved hand, cocked—index and thumb extended, covers the lower half of her face above which two dark eyes dare. Punctuating their span, the eyes emphasize the scalene triangle of negative space between her two fingers. The hand, a mask itself in covering, holds the face as if it were a mask—the situation of the double mask. All the while, the eyes float behind both. Oh, Dilon read on. Odilon Redon. This geometry of vogue would be enough to make de Honnecourt swoon . . .
These thoughts rushed through my head as I saw Lisa Cohen’s All We Know: Three Lives. Two of the three women the book explores would probably agree that a good cover is almost everything, this would be one-time fashion editor of British Vogue, Madge Garland, and the much misunderstood socialite Mercedes de Acosta. The third, Esther Murphy, was more active in politics and pontificating than appearances…though, all three women were political in some right by uncompromisingly being who they were; minorities at the center of the culture of their time. Their lives do intersect, and where not directly, their circles do. By bringing these three together, Cohen provides a much needed window on the changing expectations and roles of pre- and post-war (lesbian) women, society, and fashion.
Alice Aycock looks back on her early influences and gives insight into her creative process.
It wouldn’t be uncommon to hear a sculptor from the ‘70s speak of “structure structuring,” but Alice Aycock’s soft command of those words, from a video interview of the time, cuts through the decades. Aycock blends formal structures with not just the mind, but memory, the body, and fiction, allowing her to infuse her work with the personal. Her desire to explore the self may be linked back to her teachers Robert Morris and Yvonne Rainer, and is apparent in the influence of Bruce Nauman and Louise Nevelson. But deeper still, the impetus of her imagination and curiosity leads back to her family and childhood home, her sense of space apparent in memories of her maternal family—Appalachian coal miners—bringing to mind the tight subterranean tunnels of her earliest work.
This video happened forty years later than the one I mention previously in which Aycock’s original thought of “structure structuring” still rings true. But with this piece, time’s added sense of memory structuring becomes apparent. We spoke on the heels of her two-part retrospective Some Stories are Worth Repeating, shown at the Grey Art Gallery, NYU and Parrish Art Museum, with plans well underway for her May 2014 Park Avenue installation Paper Chase.