Thursday, October 24
132 West 21st Street, 6th Floor
Free and open to the public
Sexual violence became a burning issue in the 1970s, and as this book demonstrates, artists ranging from Yoko Ono and Valie Export to Suzanne Lacy, Ana Mendieta, Nancy Spero and Adrian Piper helped make that so. But as Susan Brownmiller made very clear in her landmark book of 1975, rape was not at the top of the agenda for Second Wave feminists, who were mainly concerned about goals that were (and are) more nearly universal: access to jobs and power, equal pay and equity at home; to abortion, health care, childcare. Initially, violence was seen as a marginal issue, affecting a few unlucky—or incautious—women. That perhaps surprising background matters greatly in our present moment, when sexual assault is routinely headline news but confusion still abounds over how to define it, who is most likely to suffer it and how it might be mitigated. As Unspeakable Acts also illustrates, younger artists have been addressing violence against women with great sympathy, rigor and courage. But looking back at how a handful of brave artists addressed rape when it first became something women could talk about provides vital clarification for behaviors that still defy understanding.
Nancy Princenthal is a New York-based writer whose book Agnes Martin: Her Life and Art received the 2016 PEN/ Jacqueline Bograd Weld award for Biography. A Contributing Editor (and former Senior Editor) of Art in America, she has also written for The New York Times and elsewhere. Princenthal has taught at Bard College, Princeton University, and Yale University, and is currently on the faculty of the School of Visual Arts.
Quijote Talks take place in our library on 21st Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues in Chelsea. Named after our favorite after-lecture hangout, El Quijote in the Chelsea Hotel, and inspired by the knight errant himself, this new series consists of pointed talks and discussions about relevant pasts and possible futures. See our full lecture series archive here.