August 1 – October 19, 2019
Collectivism invited viewers to explore how working in collectives provides artists an outlet for expression that is different from their individual practice, in particular in areas of activism and humor, and additionally in how those modes of practice overlap. The exhibition featured the work of 13 local, international and historic artist collectives including: Ant Farm, Distill Collective, DMB Collective, KUT, Ladies Fancywork Society, Secret Love Collective, Shattered Moon Alliance, subRosa, Tea Project, TVTV, Videofreex, The Women’s Art League and Women’s Video News Service.
“CVA is committed to presenting compelling contemporary exhibitions that spark dialogue and we are pleased to present work created through collective action that so thoughtfully engages with current issues our visitors are eager to discuss including gender, identity, media, privacy, technology and gentrification” says Cecily Cullen, Director and Curator of CVA. “It is our hope that the teamwork and collaboration inherent in this exhibition and the collective examination of contemporary issues will inspire our community to come together in conversation.”
Collectivism included the work of several local artists collectives Ladies Fancywork Society, Secret Love Collective and the Women’s Art League, showcasing the dynamic creativity and diversity of Colorado’s flourishing art scene.
Boulder-based Women’s Art League exhibited “vagina china” – their large-scale community art project that explores issues related to sex trafficking, connecting this alarming global reality with a centuries older global trade in Asian ceramics.
Ladies Fancywork Society and Secret Love Collective, both based in Denver, each created new work for the exhibition. Ladies Fancywork Society unfurled Our Lady, a large scale crocheted sculptural intervention. Secret Love Collective installed an alternative world onsite at CVA replete with an interactive costume closet where visitors could explore different identities and ways of being.
Secret Love Collective also presented a variety of unique events throughout the run of the exhibition including the Parade of Selves and the In Bed By Ten dance party DJed by member DJ L.A. Zwicky on August 2. The group hosted an interactive, art making game show, Collect This!, on October 10 where participants collected seemingly random elements to make art, costumes, puppets. Artful chaos ensued!
Other events included an artist talk and performance by the noted cyberfeminist artist collective subRosa. Members Hyla Willis and Faith Wilding joined guests in conversation about their practice on September 5. On September 6, members of subRosa also presented a new performance, Gentrification U, that explored the intersections of the higher education industry with housing gentrification, the gig economy, and the new forms of digitizing and monetizing of life and death.
Other highlights include the Tea Project whose work shares the voices and experiences of men in Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp highlighting the human rights violations of the Global War on Terror. Also included are KUT, an anonymous group of Latvian filmmakers, musicians, artists, politicians and cats and Shattered Moon Alliance, a collaborative duo that explores sci-fi world-building that re-centers feminist perspectives.
Additionally, interactive art making stations throughout the gallery allowed visitors to create their own art and correspond directly with the collectives themselves.
“We feel it is important to provide fun and meaningful opportunities for visitors to not only engage with the exhibition but to also directly interact with the artists,” says Cullen. “By adding these participatory elements within the exhibition, we hope visitors will be inspired to express what is personally meaningful to them and share issues that are important in their communities.”
Collectivism also features the work of two MSU Denver Art Department faculty members, Associate Professor of Art and Collectivism co-curator Tsehai Johnson and Associate Professor of Art Michael Bernhardt. With Distill Collective, Johnson departs from her ceramics practice to create conversational and collaborative drawings through the mail. Bernhardt, of DMB Collective, is one of the three creators of the album War On Christmas which pokes fun at the daily stream of data from the world of current events in politics, as well as the self-absorbed nature of social media and beyond.
MSU Denver Art Department Chair, Associate Professor Art History, Theory and Criticism and Collectivism co-curator Deanne Pytlinski, who has written extensively on 1960’s feminist video art and counterculture, rounded out the exhibition with her selection of videos from prominent, historical experimental and feminist film collectives including Ant Farm, Videofreex, TVTV and Women’s Video News Service.
Collectivism was organized by the Center for Visual Art and curated by Cecily Cullen, Director and Curator of CVA, Tsehai Johnson, Associate Professor of Art, MSU Denver and Deanne Pytlinski, Chair, MSU Denver Department of Art and Associate Professor of Art History, Theory and Criticism.
Artists in the Exhibition
Ant Farm, Distill Collective
Ladies Fancywork Society
Secret Love Collective
Shattered Moon Alliance
The Women’s Art League
Women’s Video News Service