Kirsten Swenson reviews “Lorraine O’Grady” at Harvard’s Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts — Notes uncanny intersections of O’Grady’s early works with contemporary events. Concludes, “Now, we are beginning to see her art.”
2012 – present
Lorraine O'Grady with Jarrett Earnest — In this cover feature, her most important published interview to date, O'Grady discusses Flannery O'Connor as a philosopher of the margins, the archival website, working out emotions via Egyptian sculpture, Michael Jackson's genius, and feminism as a plural noun.
Studio Museum in Harlem Magazine, Summer/Fall issue — Hunt, the curator of O'Grady's solo exhibit of "Art Is..." at the SMH, discusses with her the images the artist still finds most intriguing, her process of gathering the images and more than a quarter of a century later organizing them into a new art work. Also touched on are the assembling of the performers and how they helped shape the piece.
Text read at MOMA's Now Dig This! symposium — A meditation on why Rivers, First Draft might not have existed without the Just Above Midtown Gallery’s challenging and supportive environment.
For Simone Leigh and Performa's conference on Black Surrealism — O'Grady taught a course on Futurism, Dada and Surrealism at SVA for 20 years but had not written of the movements' effect on her work. These rough notes made for a conference presenter indicate why she loved their methodologies more than their art.
Artist feature, CAA Art Journal, Summer 2012 — Based on her lecture in conjunction with the exhibit This Will Have Been: Art, Love and Politics in the 1980s, the article puts several early works in historical context and explains O'Grady's reverse trajectory from "post-black" to "black."
Text for the 2012 Paris Triennale English-language website — Written to replace a curatorial text on the Trennale's English website, the text describes the effect of O'Grady's hybrid background on content and form in her work, elaborating this with respect to Miscegenated Family Album, her "novel in space" in the Triennale.
Aria Dean’s “Closing the Loop” — In contrasting white “selfie” feminism’s understanding of the body to that of contemporary black feminism, Dean’s feature essay also provides a first updating of “Olympia’s Maid.”
Caille Millner, on Rivers, First Draft as a living Künstlerroman — Whereas to many the performance may seem surrealist (in the way early readers saw García Márquez's 100 Years of Solitude as surrealist when that novel was, if not realistic, quite real), Millner adeptly demystifies the work's collage aesthetic, seeing the piece as literalized metaphor, a guide to women of color wishing to become artists.
"Frame Me": Speaking Out of Turn and Lorraine O'Grady's Alien Avant-Garde — In the first major academic article on O'Grady, Stephanie Sparling Williams, using both the definition of "alien" as stranger and the Brechtian "alienation effect," provides a first line of theorization, stating: "As both alien and avant-garde, [it paves] the way for these two terms to be theorized in close proximity as a distinctive position from which to deploy strategic visibility and voice."
@museummammy interview on contemporary art — Drew, whose Black Contemporary Art tumblr is a first stop for anyone interested in this enormous topic, here cites David Hammons and Lorraine O'Grady as two artists to whom more serious attention should be paid, joining those who have noted O'Grady's work as "under-theorized."
A Walk Through the World of Lorraine O'Grady — Heather Kapplow, the Boston reviewer, replicates O'Grady's working method by walking backwards, turning the exhibit itself into a diptych, video on one side, wall works on the other, setting in motion a permanent back-and-forth questioning and answering between the two so that the only resolution is to embrace a permanent, un-hierarchized equivalence.
Cate McQuaid on "Where Margins Become Centers" — In this enthusiastic review of the Carpenter Center show, which she later discussed further in an end-of-year column on Boston's galleries, the award-winning critic declares that, after the early performances, O'Grady's work "grew more precise and more searing."
Carpenter Center Exhibition Booklet — One reviewer called it an "Indispensable brochure." Besides checklist and illustrations, Lorraine O'Grady: Where Margins Become Centers contains an incisive essay by the CCVA's curator James Voorhies, an article by O'Grady and interview by Cecilia Alemani,, as well as Andil Gosine's foundational essay, "Lorraine O'Grady's New Worlds."
Cathy Lebowitz on "En Mas'" — Leibowitz discusses O'Grady's "Looking for a Headdress" video and installation as a mimicry of the relation of the diaspora to its originary culture and indicates that its informal density accomplishes a great deal efficiently.
Louis Bury on "Art Is..." — Bury's lengthy and magisterial review is a model of intellectual attention to what is being seen — both inside and outside the frame. Beginning with the freedom of the piece's title, it examines framing as form, content and metaphor, and illluminates police presence and the relation of viewer to viewed.
Blog entry on "Art Is..." at the Studio Museum in Harlem — This brief review by an art historian frames "Art Is..." as a "meta-art proposition" and draws interesting parallels to works by later black artists.
Feature article on "Art Is..." and why it might not work today — with interview of O'Grady by Karen Rosenberg. O'Grady describes how the piece became unintentionally historic. Done in 1983, it was just before crack came to Harlem. Later, both the drug and the changed technologies of policing in Harlem and elsewhere would make people less open to strangers and cameras.
Alan Gilbert review of Lorraine O'Grady at Alexander Gray — The editor of the College Art Association's caa.reviews, through a close formal description of "Cutting Out the New York Times," mimicked by that of the "Rivers, First Draft" wall installation, points to how their form provides an associative logic needed to make sense of the individuation process unfolding on the wall.
Holland Cotter, Art & Design — Cotter's review of O'Grady's exhibit at Alexander Gray focuses on her use of collage in both "Cutting Out the New York Times" and "Rivers, First Draft" as a method of shaping her complex history.
Lorraine O'Grady, gallery exhibition catalogue — Fully illustrated, with analyses and descriptions of the 1977 "Cutting Out the New York Times" collaged poems and the 1982 "Rivers, First Draft" performance in Central Park (including production and music credits). Also contains bio and a new text by O'Grady celebrating premiere of RFD as a wall installation.
Feature on "EN MAS': Carnival and Performance Art of the Caribbean" — Reviewer Rebecca Lee Reynolds displays keen appreciation of the format of O'Grady's "reaction video," her commission for "EN MAS," which opened at CAC New Orleans before its traveling tour to the National Galleries of the Cayman Isalnds and of The Bahamas, plus centers of the diaspora.
Jillian Steinhauer on Baudelaire and Michael Jackson — After encountering O'Grady in a video by Adam Pendleton, Steinhauer finds a 10-minute segment on YouTube of the Performa Institute event in which O'Grady speaks about Baudelaire, Jackson and Modernism.
Animating the Archive: Black Performance Art's Radical Presence – Alexis Clements' review of "Radical Presence" at the Grey Art Gallery, NYU, discusses the ways in which O'Grady's photo-document installation of Mlle Bourgeoise Noire enables one to imagine at least in part what it might have been like to be present during the performance.
Piece on Basquiat referencing O'Grady's 1993 Artforum article — ArtInfo executive editor Ben Davis's feature, "Saving Basquiat," points to O'Grady's 1993 Artforum article and highlights the question it raised: Could knowing black fine artists have saved him?
Lisa Scanlon on O'Grady's archive at Wellesley College — Associate editor Scanlon, writing on the newly opened Lorrraine O'Grady Papers, the College's first major alumnae archives, calls the collection a means to preserve the records of the artist's "permanent rebellion."
Holland Cotter, Art in Review — Cotter, long familiar with O'Grady's work, points to a new aspect of the photomontages shown in New Worlds, their "deep ambivalence." And his description of the effect of Landscape (Western Hemisphere), the video-projection, is the most allusive yet.
Emily Nathan, The New York List — Analysis of New Worlds focusing on how the works' resistance of "easy classification" and their straddling of "artificial divides of genre and type" serve to replicate O'Grady's thoughts on the contemporary world, one "shaped and inflected by miscegenation."
Lumi Tan, Critics' Picks — A brief, astute statement that indicates O'Grady's intentions in naming her Alexander Gray, NY solo show New Worlds.
Unpublished article on New Worlds — The unpublished article by Gosine, a York University (Toronto) professor who'd written earlier on hybridity in O'Grady's work, is a perceptive and detailed analysis of the subject's treatment in her New Worlds show at Alexander Gray, NY.
Jeu de Paume invited blog — Rice's familiarity with O'Grady's work over 30 years results in a theoretically astute and rotundly feminist look at how New Worlds extends the artist's ongoing critique of cultural stability from the lens of the hybridized political-personal and the colonized body.
Alana Chloe Esposito, Unnatural Attitudes — A sensitive summary of O'Grady's biography and its effect on her art, Esposito's piece sees the work as emerging from the artist's pressure to understand and become herself.
Lorraine O'Grady's Hair Stare Fare, Village Voice — Davis's career evaluation and review of New Worlds at Alexander Gray, NY, O'Grady's show comprised of The Fir-Palm, The Clearing, and the projected video Landscape (Western Hemisphere), is suggestively sub-titled "A veteran artist turns identity into abstract art."
Curators converse on This Will Have Been — Conversation between curator Helen Molesworth and assistant curator Bartholomew Ryan about the making of This Will Have Been: Art, Love and Politics in the 1980s. Includes interesting comments on the delayed recognition of both O'Grady and Peter Hujar.
Hannah Feldman on This Will Have Been, MCA Chicago — This generally laudatory review of a groundbreaking exhibit on art of the 1980s features special attention on O'Grady's piece in the exhibit, Art Is…, seen as encapsulating the problematic of curator Helen Molesworth's strategy.
Juliette Soulez on the Paris Triennale — In French, a review of the Triennale that discusses Miscegenated Family Album and the way in which it creates a space in which to "render visible a class invisible up to now."
Blues for Smoke, Museum of Contemporary Art, LA — In a catalogue with the improvisational quality of the music, the final section of Blues for Smoke curator Simpson's essay "This Air" is titled "The Clearing," from a piece by O'Grady of that name in the exhibit, and discusses how the piece echoes the show's themes.
A Generous Medium: Photography at Wellesley, 1972-2012 — The curator of the Wellesley Davis Museum's 1994 exhibit Body As Measure, in which Miscegenated Family Album was first shown, looks back movingly on her encounter with the work in the artist's studio and on the complexities of purchasing work by an alumna.
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago — Analysis of O'Grady's 1983 Afro-American Day Parade, Harlem, performance Art Is…, in the groundbreaking exhibit This Will Have Been: Art, Love and Politics in the 1980s, curated by Helen Molesworth. Essay by Jordan Troeller.