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The Ism That Dares Speak Its Name

Meredyth Sparks

PARMER at Abrons Art Center

466 Grand Street, New York, NY

June 10th-August 2nd, 2015

The Ism that Dares Speak Its Name is a series of collaborative and public programs—discussion groups, screenings, a walking tour and Wikipedia edit-a-thon—that will explore the trajectories of the modern woman from the early 20th century through to current iterations in feminist art, music and political practices.
The programs will be housed within The Rivoli Pavilion (2011/2015), Meredyth Sparks’ string sculpture based on the modernist architect Eileen Gray’s Rivoli tea table.  Amplified to the size of a pavilion, the sculpture collapses the boundaries between interior and exterior, public and private by transforming a domestic object into a public meetinghouse.
Through the public programs within Sparks’ sculptural form, the project provides a discursive space aimed at exploring our complicated relationship to modernism and the canon and current concerns within feminist discourse that make visible the contributions of women to the understanding of ourselves in relation to contemporary artistic subjectivity.  By accounting for the collaborative and collective agency of feminism, The Ism that Dares Speak Its Name seeks to further the conversation, looking back while moving forward.
During the course of the program, the sculpture will house a program of video resources selected by Sparks. Culled form the Internet, this documentation will be divided into sections including: DocumentariesArtists in Their Own Words, and Artist Film and Video.  This collection of videos will act as a generative archive that begins to elucidate a cultural, feminized voice.
We will begin the project at 6pm on June 10th with an informal gathering and publish-a-thon as the sculptural framework of the project is being installed. We will meet over drinks and collate preselected text –based readers for the project, talking through the stakes of the exhibition and collectively making the physical and discursive space we will be occupying over the next two months.

*This title is inspired by Mira Schor’s essay originally published in Documents journal, “The Ism That Dare Not Speak Its Name” (No. 15, Spring/Summer 1999).  The title itself is a play on the line “The love that dare not speak its name,” found in Lord Alfred Douglas’ 1894 poem “Two Loves,” but now often associated with Oscar Wilde’s indecency trial of the following year.