Founding director of the artist-run Franklin Furnace Archive and a key figure in the downtown New York art scene since the early 1970s, Martha Wilson has consistently—and unblinkingly—confronted the second-class status of women in the global art system and beyond. (Defiantly, in 1978, she joined curator-critic Ingrid Sischy and others in an all-female punk band devoid of any trained musicians.) In this new body of photo-and-text works, Wilson’s longstanding satiric take on lookism, gender inequity, racial prejudice, and political and commercial mendacity has grown at once freer and more (good-naturedly) acerbic, now that she has attained the self-described standing of “an old lady.” We see her here disguised as the uptight Tipper Gore, sporting a face lift caused by hanging upside down, melding spiritually with Michelle Obama by darkening one side of her face, and morphing her own image with Catherine Deneuve’s in a sequence of close-up photos. Not to neglect art history and the hi-low debates of yore, she also appears as Mona Lisa, bearded and mustachioed by Duchamp, and under a tower of blue Marge Simpson hair.
Pictured: Martha Wilson: Life/Style Lift, 2014, photo by Michael Katchen, 24 by 19 inches. Courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W, New York