August 15, 2022
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Downtown

Betsy Damon

By Nov. 21. La MaMa Galleria, 47 Nice Jones Avenue, Manhattan. 212-505-2476; lamama.org.

For the artist Betsy Damon, the Nineteen Seventies have been a time for rediscovery: Throughout that decade, she discovered the feminist motion, left her husband and got here out as a lesbian. She additionally started performing by overlaying herself in small baggage crammed with flour and portray her physique and hair white, with blackened lips. She referred to as herself the “7,000 12 months Outdated Lady” (1977-78) and walked slowly in a spiral whereas chopping open the baggage with scissors, symbolically liberating herself from the burdens of patriarchy.

Damon has been an eco-artist and activist for the reason that Nineteen Nineties. Her present “Betsy Damon — Passages: Rites and Rituals,” curated by Monika Fabijanska, spotlights her early feminist performances. Represented principally by pictures and written recollections, they’re radical relics of a time when many artists from oppressed teams have been discovering their voices by means of experimentation. Damon’s work appears nearly like inventive consciousness-raising. In “A Shrine for Everywoman” (1980-88), girls have been invited to write down down their tales and place them in small baggage, which have been strung up like flags to demarcate an area of communion.

It may be onerous to know the facility of Damon’s items secondhand, however what comes by means of is her embrace of vulnerability and dedication to group. She opened herself up and challenged others to as properly — and the photographs counsel that she succeeded. One image reveals a bunch of individuals watching her efficiency “Blind Beggarwoman” (1979-80) on Wall Avenue. They appear to treat the artwork with skepticism however are additionally transfixed, a reluctant viewers unwilling to look away. JILLIAN STEINHAUER

downtown

Reynaldo Rivera

By Nov. 21. Reena Spaulings High quality Art, 165 East Broadway, Manhattan. 212- 477-5006; reenaspaulings.com.

Born in Mexicali, Mexico, Reynaldo Rivera was in California as a youngster within the mid-Nineteen Seventies. There, engaged on fruit farms and in canneries, he discovered a digital camera and taught himself methods to use it. He settled in Los Angeles and commenced photographing the native rock music scene, however discovered his most absorbing topic within the metropolis’s drag bars, significantly people who drew a Latino viewers.

“Kiss Me Lethal,” his New York solo debut at Reena Spaulings, is made up largely of black-and-white photos of these bars and their performers: Miss Alex on the Silverlake Lounge; Melissa and Gaby at La Plaza, and Yoshi, the proprietor/star of Membership Mugy’s. What distinguishes Rivera’s view of the performers is that he takes them critically, lets them look as glamorous — as humorous, attractive, too-much — as they wished to be, and have been. He’s not an outsider trying in, however an insider capturing a world he is aware of and loves.

It’s good that he did seize it, as a result of the membership lifetime of that point — the Nineteen Eighties and ’90s — is usually gone. Gentrification, medicine and AIDS took it out. If you wish to get a deep sense of it, I extremely advocate a e book of the artist’s work, merely titled “Reynaldo Rivera” and revealed in 2020. Edited by Hedi El Kholti and Lauren Mackler, it has many extra photos than within the present. It additionally consists of beneficial essays by Luis Bauz and Chris Kraus, and a prolonged e-mail trade between Rivera and the artist-performer Vaginal Davis, a significant veteran of the historical past that this photographer has preserved. HOLLAND COTTER

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