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.
Just Above Midtown
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."
O’Grady used the margin comments of her Artforum editor on “The Black and White Show” in part as an opportunity for background clarification on the situation of race in the 1980s art world.
Abbreviated version of a WPS1 radio chat with curator Connie Butler. Published in the P.S.1 Newspaper Special Edition for “WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution,” Winter/Spring, 2008, P.S.1–MOMA, Long Island City, NY.
Recorded by Art Radio WPS1, available online at clocktower.org — Full transcript of a 45-minute conversation between Lorraine O’Grady and curator Connie Butler in WPS1 Art Radio’s broadcast studios two weeks before the WACK! opening at PS1–MOMA, Long Island City, NY.
Posted to the moca.org WACK site — O’Grady posted this brief synopsis of the performance and its background on the WACK! exhibit’s excellent website. Significantly, she also posted 13 largely unknown photos-with-captions documenting the performance, which historically had been victim to two iconic images. Lacking a full context, they had become empty signifiers.
Unpublished email exchange — During an e-mail exchange in which they were sharing ideas and work, O'Grady sent Roth a copy of Lucy Lippard's review of Art Is. . . . Roth's questions prompted O'Grady to elaborate on the making and meaning of the performance.
Moderated online by Maurice Berger — O’Grady’s replies to Berger’s questions, both reproduced here, were extensive. The conference, with 30 posters and hosted on the Georgia O’Keefe Museum website, provided an opportune moment to re-think her 80s work in its larger historical context.
Unpublished exchange — The most comprehensive and focused interview of O’Grady to date, this Q & A by a Duke University doctoral candidate benefited from the slowness of the email format, the African American feminist scholar’s deep familiarity with O’Grady’s work, and their personal friendship.
Art Journal, College Art Association — In this article for Art Journal, Winter 1997, the special issue on performance edited by Martha Wilson, O’Grady focuses first on Nefertiti/Devonia Evangeline, then discusses its relationship to Miscegenated Family Album, alluding to the advantages and disadvantages of the move from performance to photo installation.
Hatch-Billops Collection, Artists and Influence 1996, vol. 15 — In-depth interview done for the excellent Artist and Influence series produced by Camille Billops and James Hatch for their archive of African American visual and theatre arts.
Artforum International — O’Grady’s column on the occasion of Basquiat’s first retrospective, at the Whitney Museum, was the first to examine Basquiat’s relation to the black art world. It discusses her personal relationship to Jean-Michel and analyzes the mainstream art world’s “primitivist” responses to his work.
Unedited transcript for Performance Artists Talking in the Eighties — Montano’s questions on “ritual” cast interesting light on the connection between O’Grady’s early life and her performances. The unedited transcript of the interview contains answers in greater depth on Mlle Bourgeoise Noire and Nefertiti/Devonia Evangeline.
Unpublished statement, for Tony Whitfield — A letter to Tony Whitfield in preparation for Just Above Midtown’s Afro- Pop catalogue interview is O’Grady’s most self-conscious to that point. Experiencing a lack of clear precedents for her work, in it she attempts to theorize her relationship to performance art and the paucity of role models, and to face the question of the audience for black avant-garde art.
High Performance #13, Artist’s Chronicle — Her first submission to a performance art journal was a description of Mlle Bourgeoise Noire’s earliest appearance, a guerrilla action at Just Above Midtown, the country’s only black avant-garde art gallery.
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."
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.
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.
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."
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."
Lorraine O'Grady Papers, Wellesley College Library — Front page article on the college website about the artist's visit to campus for the celebration of the opening of her archive and to give a lecture.
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.
Episode 22: Nefertiti, Devonia, Michael — Complete transcript of podcast by Lucas Livingston, an Egyptologist associated with the Art Institute of Chicago, that discusses Nefertiti/Devonia Evangeline and Miscegenated Family Album in detail. Also a YouTube video with high-quality images.
The Poem Will Resemble You — Mauss’s article for Artforum is, with Wilson’s INTAR catalogue essay, one of the most extended and incisive pieces on O’Grady’s oeuvre to date. It was one-half of a two-article feature that also included O’Grady’s artist portfolio for The Black and White Show.
Miscegenated Family Album, Artforum Magazine — In Artforum's first review of an O'Grady solo exhibit, Burton sensitively parses the "uneasy symmetry" of the Miscegenated Family Album installation at Alexander Gray Associates, NY.
A West Indian Yankee in Queen Nefertiti’s Court — The first critical article on O'Grady's work as a whole, and still one of the best. Published in New Observations #97: COLOR. September/October 1993. Special issue, edited by ADRIAN PIPER.
Lorraine O’Grady: Critical Interventions — Catalogue essay for O'Grady's first solo exhibit: "Lorraine O'Grady," photomontages, INTAR Gallery, 420 W 42nd St, NYC, Jan 21-Feb 22, 1991. Includes authoritative account of artist's earlier career.
“Dialogues,” Just Above Midtown Gallery — Patricia S. Jones discusses a downtown gallery performance series at Just Above Midtown, NYC, Oct 1980 in a late 70s-early 80s annual journal. Article makes special note of O’Grady’s first performance of Nefertiti/Devonia Evangeline.