Brooklyn Talks: Marilyn Minter's Creative Network
by Helena Calmfors
Last week’s talk at the Brooklyn museum was supposed to focus on Marilyn Minter’s artistry as well as the art and work of her contemporaries, but the outcome of the election quickly became the subject matter for the conversations. Two of the invited speakers, Lorna Simpson and Mary Heilmann, even had to decline last minute since they couldn’t make it out of their houses post-election. Moderated by chief-curator Nancy Spector and director Anne Pasternak of the Brooklyn museum, Minter had invited a group of collaborators and creative peers for quick Q&A sessions to explore topics on feminism, activism and contemporary art, but these were all taken on with the coming Trump administration in focus.
The night started off with a room full of New Yorkers in mourning and shock. As it quickly became clear that the interviews would be centered on dealing with the grief of the political situation, a handful of people left without even listening to the discussions. This very action exemplified one of the major problems in this country, the unwillingness to try to understand others, and set the tone for the discussions to come.
During her interviews, Minter drew several parallels between the double standards of the art world and the double standards of society. She recalled how she was denounced from the art world in the 90s for using what was considered “low class” pornographic imagery in her works. She was then welcomed back with open arms when she presented intimate portraits of her mother, who was a drug-addict, which spoke to the public of a destructive upbringing and dysfunctional childhood. Seeing defeat and destruction was what ultimately got her accepted again. This election most certainly showed the double standards society holds for women and it was painfully exemplified in its demonization of Hillary Clinton. Johanna Fateman of Le Tigre pointed out how we still, 2016, punish women for being successful. A woman with 30 years of experience in politics faced a reality where her hard work and ambition became her downfall and where a man with no experience at all was chosen for the oval office. This election has if anything illustrated how society keeps raising men with less experience than women to top positions. Shea Spencer, agent and owner of Artists Commission, made a remark on how what we’ve been fighting against for the past 50 years just got a face and a name and therefore materialized, making the fight for feminism more concrete than ever.
On the question of if there’s any hope for America, photographer Ryan McGinley answered “I think that in the next four years art is going to get really good”. Approaching these recent events with a positive mindset was definitely the strongest message from Minter as well as she held up a map of America showcasing who would have won the election based on the votes of the millenials, ”the future of the country”. Her guests also provided hopeful words for the future and concrete issues we can work for. Writer and musician Richard Hell highlighted how in the wake of a disaster people come together and work for change. Samantha Cole, the founder of Adult Magazine, spoke about the importance of lifting up “low culture” in art to fight against class discrimination. Abigail DeAtley, director of development at Planned Parenthood of New York City, emphasized the importance of fighting to keep womens’ bodies, and marginalized bodies, healthy in order to lift them up in society. Minter’s conversations with her guests provided an inspirational and much needed energy in light of the weeks’ events and reflected what we all need to focus on now: fighting for our rights and not falling into despair.
Photos c/o the Brooklyn Museum
Marilyn Minter: Pretty/ Dirty is on view until April 2, 2017.