Next week a new documentary titled The F Word will premiere at Art Basel Miami. Directed by Robert Adanto, the film paints a picture of the American-based artists making a lot of noise at the front of the fourth wave of feminism – whether through their online or real life performances. Featuring names like Narcissister, Ann Hirsch, Go! Push Pops, Rachel Mason, Rebecca Goyette, Leah Schrager, Rafia Santana, Kate Durbin, Faith Holland, Damali Abrams and Claudia Bitran, as well as a cast of art critics, curators and experts, yesterday we spoke with the film’s director who said he “felt that this combination of artists would help me paint a portrait of fourth wave feminism, as it was being discussed in 2014”.
Using their bodies to challenge sexual objectification, female archetypes, and our approach and attitudes towards sex and sexuality, amongst other things, these radicals are hard to ignore. Amongst an array of female talent, we profile four who, when the lights come up on the gallery space, keep the energy alive through their Instagram feeds.
KATE DURBIN (@KATEANNEDURBIN)
LA-based poet, writer, curator and performance artist, Kate Durbin is a force to be reckoned with. She plunges the depths of pop culture – like reality TV, which she wrote about in her book E! Entertainment Diamond Edition – and questions female archetypes – see her short story on Kim K's "Fairy Tale" wedding, or her online art project "Women as Objects" (2011-2013). Her feed is a constant (strangely comforting) flow of Hello! Kitty, glitter, Disney princesses and unicorn emojis that plays into her penchant for repetition, mixed with her fascination with the "dark", "fucked up" and taboo, and you’ve got some seriously compelling and thought-provoking work.
GO! PUSH POPS (@GOPUSHPOPS)
On the outside they might appear garish and glittery, but this feminist and queer collective – founded in 2010 by Elisa Garcia de la Huerta and Katie Cercone – drills deep beneath the surface of neon braids and face paint to take inspiration from art movements like Dada, Shamanism, riot grrrl and different facets of American culture. Their durational performances, like 2010s "Gone Wild" – a seven-hour feat – and the 13-minute "lesbian gangster erotica film" "Push Porn" (2011) quickly gained them acclaim amongst galleries like the Whitney and The Brooklyn Museum. Plus, when anyone describes themselves as “Radical Feminist Warlords, Rainbow Warriors and High Priestezz BOSSAZZ Witchez”, what's not to feel inspired by?
LEAH SCHRAGER (@LEAHSCHRAGER)
Leah Schrager isn't short of things to add to her CV. In 2010, the digital artist began moonlighting as Sarah White, The Naked Therapist. The art project encourages, as the name suggests, the client and/or the therapist to get naked in order to delve into a deeper state, and relationship, of comfort and trust. Her fascination with the female body began when, as a model and dancer, she was sick of the lack of control she had over her own body and its ‘implied’ sexuality.
Her work – through a number of different personas and alter egos – aims to reclaim this, with projects like "My Modelling Portfolio" (2012) and "Dance", in which Schrager wrestles back ownership of her own image. If that isn't enough, she also curated the awesome online exhibition earlier this year titled "Body Anxiety" – which featured 21 other incredible US-based female artists also using their bodies to take a stand.
REBECCA GOYETTE (@REBECCAJGOYETTE)
Anyone occasionally adopting the persona of a female lobster – and going by the moniker of Lobsta Girl – is a winner in my books. Add to that a determination to break down the strict traditions and mindsets around sex and sexuality and you’ve got yourself performance artist Rebecca Goyette. Flickering seamlessly between alter-egos, Goyette has also explored such issues through that of a ghost named Rebecca Nurse (an ancestor of hers who was apparently hanged in the Salem witch trials). Removing gender boundaries, the artist uses fantasy, nature and sex to explore the depths of human psychology and interaction.
Follow Ashleigh Kane on Twitter here @ashleighkane