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Anthony Reynolds gallery, London
10 October - 15 November 2008
Reviewed by: Viviane Blanchard »
Nancy Spero's Take no prisoner (2007) is a shocking viewing experience. I rang the bell at the Anthony Reynolds' gallery on Great Marlborough Street and waited in the warm afternoon sunshine as street shoppers and delivery men passed by. I hoped I'd have enough time after my visit to pop into Beyond Retro next door to get myself a second-hand red leather handbag. The whiteness of the gallery sucked me in. Blank was my mind when I walked around a wooden pole stuck in the middle of the ground floor, shooting through the cracked ceiling. It smelled fishy. I climbed the stairs and came face to face with a bloody head hanging from a cord. About 30 of the artist's drawn heads stuck onto aluminium sheets were hanging from what looked like a maypole, projecting an awkward image of joyous bloody massacre.
Nancy Spero is one of our pioneer feminist artists. She started working in the 1950's and become increasingly angry and frustated at the sex and power relationships, the manmade war and violence (she strongly reacted against the Vietnam war) of which women and minority groups have been the hopeless victims. Today the Iraq war takes its toll. Take no prisoners is as shocking as it is meant to be. It has no flashy effects. It is raw, using bare materials and a human scale. One cannot escape Its 3-dimensionality. One is forced to take the physicality of it, the suffering, the plain evidence of our contemporary violence.
Nancy Spero is at Anthony Reynold's gallery, London until 15 November
Viviane Blanchard is an art historian and writer, with a particular interest in sound art and the gender perspective.
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