Ellen Cantor, Chiara Fumai, Pauline Oliveros, Carole Roussopoulos & Delphine Seyrig

20 September–15 December 2019
Opening Friday 20 September 7-9pm

Dear Valerie,

This exhibition is dedicated to you. We like to think of it as a group of ideal friends, supportive colleagues, and brilliant minds coming together. You did not know each other, but your conversations unfold over time and still echo poignantly with our present. Your strong and powerful voices were never afraid to embrace fragility.

Ellen writes somewhere that “when a body loves it shows an admirable frailty.” Close friends and collaborators that informed her work, she called the circle of “magical intuitive co-operation.” Her struggles with her last work Pinochet Porn became, in part, her friends’ struggles too, and after she passed away it was these friends that finished the tale of her beloved characters. In a way, she had created something larger than all parts involved; political in intent, figurative, precise, dramatic, emotional, and “adult in subject matter.” Is tragedy a choice, she asks.

When Chiara reads your Manifesto, she mimics the political rhetorics we live in today with such precision, as if she knew what ugly mess was coming our way. And when she channels the spirits of various women in history that voiced their dissent, she is not only mixing spiritism and politics. She reveals a motley crew of relentless minds – activists, terrorists, freak-show performers, philosophers – who collectively represent the fears of a bourgeois society.

In voice-over, Carole explains that since your Manifesto was no longer available in French or English, she and Delphine decided to transform several passages of the book into sound and image. The Manifesto as a true utopia that inverts power relations to denounce a situation that has become normality: the state of permanent war, waged by men throughout the world. This is almost too clear in the passages of live images from the news broadcast on the television screen behind them.

And Pauline says it best in her own words: “Shortly after it was published in 1968 the SCUM Manifesto by Valerie Solanas fell into my hands. Intrigued by the egalitarian feminist principles set forth in the Manifesto, I wanted to incorporate them in the structure of a new piece that I was composing. The women’s movement was surfacing and I felt the need to express my resonance with this energy. Marilyn Monroe had taken her own life. Valerie Solanas had attempted to take the life of Andy Warhol. Both women seemed to be desperate and caught in the traps of inequality: Monroe needed to be recognized for her talent as an actress. Solanas wished to be supported for her own creative work. To Valerie Solanas and Marilyn Monroe in Recognition of Their Desperation had its premiere in 1970. Though everyone knew Marilyn Monroe hardly anyone recognized Valerie Solanas or took her Manifesto seriously. I brought the names of these two women together in the title of the piece to draw attention to their inequality and to dedicate the piece.”

This exhibition is our tribute to strength and fragility, politics and aesthetics, wilfulness and clarity. This exhibition is for you.

Thank you Valerie Solanas, we miss you.