The public launch of the tenth edition of The Laughing Cow® Collector’s Edition Box will take place in October 2023. We are proud to announce that the artist selected for the remarkable joint project this year is Martha Wilson. Martha Wilson is a performance artist from the United States. Her breakthrough work has influenced many… Read more »
The public launch of the tenth edition of The Laughing Cow® Collector’s Edition Box will take place in October 2023.
We are proud to announce that the artist selected for the remarkable joint project this year is Martha Wilson.
Martha Wilson is a performance artist from the United States. Her breakthrough work has influenced many worldwide artists. She was dubbed “one of the most important people for art in downtown Manhattan in the 1970s”, by critic Holland Cotter. She founded the Franklin Furnace Archive, a one-of-a-kind institution dedicated to supporting young artists.
Martha Wilson ©Sara Kaplan
Martha Wilson is an American artist, born in Philadelphia. At 75, she might be the most important American performance artist pursuing a social commitment for the democratization of art as a vector of emancipation. She leads a “cultural battle” in her work, aiming to reach a wide public, especially those far from art.
The first works of Wilson are considered today visionary.
In the early 1970s, Martha Wilson began to stage herself, alone in front of the camera, using video, photography and text. At the time, she was teaching English literature at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in the Canadian city of Halifax.
She soon became known for her innovative photographic and video works that explored her subjectivity as a woman through role-playing, disguise, make-up and staging.
In 1974, she transformed the loft of her own home into an artist-run performance and exhibition space, founding the Franklin Furnace Archive in 1974, an artist-run space that focuses on the exploration and promotion of artists’ books, installation art, video and performance art. The list of exhibitions and projects produced via the Archive is impressive and covers every American artist who mattered in the last forty years. For twenty years (1976 -1996), the Franklin Furnace exhibited in the Franklin Street storefront in Tribeca and in public spaces in Lower Manhattan to reach out to passersby in these still popular neighborhoods.
For her, the artist book, performance and film are artistic mediums in their own right. They are democratic art objects that can be disseminated outside the professional field of art. A printed and published object like a book indeed questions the norms of the works of art. It is an “industrial” cultural object that is created by several people, thus breaking with the sacralization of the artist. Franklin Furnace has since reinvented itself with the primary goal of providing funding to artists and focusing on art education and online publication of works that are not usually accessible to the wider public.
For more than fifty years and heralding the work of feminist artists such as Eleanor Antin, Martha Rosler and Cindy Sherman, Matha Wilson’s work questions the social pressure “be an image” through female cross-dressing and its verbal deconstruction. In particular, she creates self-portraits entitled A Portfolio of Models in which she poses as various gender identities such as goddess or housewife. She uses the identities of famous people such as the First Ladies Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush. Radical humor becomes her mode of expression, but the process of self-identification that she sets up is perceived as essentially positive because her creations stimulate creativity and the emancipation of all.
An exhibition of Martha Wilson’s work was organized last year at the Centre Pompidou (Oct 2021-January 2022) in which works such as Breast Forms Permutated (1972), A Portfolio of Models (1974), Posturing: Drag (1972), developed a laconic and percussive language.
At a time of accelerated growth of the international art market, she points out more broadly and with uncompromising lucidity the fabrication of the artist’s identity and value, underlined by the precariousness of the condition of the female artist. Performance, she writes, is “the place of intersection between the image and the text”.
Martha Wilson is an agent of transformation and change in art toward a greater democratization of each and all’s artistic sensibility.
This is why it seemed appropriate to invite her to propose the Collector’s Box The Laughing Cow, 2023.
Sylvie Boulanger, curator of the edition