Purple Art

[May 3 2016]

Carmen Winant “Who Says Pain is Erotic?” exhibition at Fortnight Institute, New York

Carmen Winant has long collected images of women, driven by the hope that their aggregate will help her understand something about female authorship, impulse, and willful representation through looking. For this exhibition she turns to her archive of over five thousand pictures to consider the elusive subject of healing.

Through parallel story lines involving female agency and submission, feminist history and self-help books, Winant‘s dense collages prompt the questions: Why are women always depicted as the receiver of demonstrative touch? Can healing be transferred through pictures? In what moments can contact be both violent and tender? Can something so enormously internal – emotional and bodily restoration – possibly be depicted in an outward way? What happens when pleasure and pain touch one another? When, in fact, is pain indeed erotic?

These conflicts are vested in the history and makings of collage itself. From the Dada artists to the Beats and Feminists, the medium has long served as an index of social conflict and an expression of interior and societal struggle. By literally disjoining material in order to collide it with itself, Winant’s dismantled, closely set compositions reference a social and bodily uneasiness; bodies are literally pulled to pieces. In this sense, collage is both a visual strategy of non-linear storytelling and a political ideology.

The use of the color red, absorbed here on found images, paper and frames as food coloring, is derived from the radical 1970 feminist book The Female Eunuch, in which Germaine Greer notably wrote of women who were seeking bodily and societal freedom: “If you think you are emancipated, you might consider the idea of tasting your own menstrual blood – if it makes you sick, you’ve a long way to go, baby.”

On view until May 13th, 2016, at Fortnight Institute, 60 East 4th Street, New York.

Text Fortnight Institute and photo Pola Esther

Subscribe to our newsletter