Writing

Brooklyn Rail, 2016

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.

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Interview with Amanda Hunt, 2015

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.

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Contributor Text, Paris Triennale, 2012

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.

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Radio Interview by Andil Gosine, 2010

Transcript, "Lorraine O'Grady's Natures," NCRA Canada — This half-hour show, extracted from a longer video interview and produced in Canada for NCRA, is focused on O’Grady’s diptych “The Clearing” and explores issues of sex, nature and love in her work via a mix of the intellectual and the intimate.

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Interview by Cecilia Alemani, 2010

[Text in English and Italian] Mousse Magazine, issue 24 — The Mousse interview, done after the Whitney Biennial opening, elaborated on O’Grady’s piece for that exhibit,The First and the Last of the Modernists, and its relation to her decades of teaching Baudelaire and to her work-in-progress Flowers of Evil and Good.

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BodyGround Image Descriptions, 2010

Unpublished paragraphs on individual works in INTAR exhibit, 1991 — Written to answer FAQs about the works without prescribing viewers' responses. The photomontages were not based in Surrealist or Dada randomness. To make arguments and not just images or dreams, rational sources were twisted so unfamiliar subjective material of the "other" might enter.

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WPS1 chat with Connie Butler, 2008

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.

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Mlle Bourgeoise Noire 1980-81, Synopsis 2007

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.

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Mlle Bourgeoise Noire and Feminism #2, 2007

WACK! gallery talk, published in Art Lies #54, Summer 2007 — As part of her gallery talk for WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution at MOCA, LA, O’Grady read this statement inspired by Marsha Meskimmon’s important catalogue essay, in which the theoretical underpinning for the show’s historic statement of including 50% non- U.S. artists had been laid out.

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Re Cutting Out the New York Times, 1977

Binder statement for Daniel Reich exhibit — At curator Nick Mauss’s request, O’Grady first exhibited five of the 26 cut-outs that she’d done on successive Sundays, from June 5 to November 20, 1977, in a group show nearly 30 years later — Between the Lines, in March 2006 at Daniel Reich Temporary (The Chelsea Hotel). She wrote a binder statement about her original work method and state of mind.

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Email Q & A with Courtney Baker, 1998

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.

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Studies for Flowers of Evil and Good, 1998

Wall statement for exhibit at Thomas Erben Gallery, Soho — Written for the first exhibit of “Studies #3 and 4 for Flowers of Evil and Good” at Thomas Erben Gallery, NYC, this discussion of the father of modernism Charles Baudelaire and his Haitian common-law wife Jeanne Duval, as well as Picasso and O’Grady’s mother Lena, places their relationships in the postmodernist moment.

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Interview by Laura Cottingham, 1995

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.

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Olympia’s Maid, 1992, 1994

Afterimage 20, 1992; expanded, New Feminist Criticism, 1994 — This first-ever article of cultural criticism on the black female body was to prove germinal and continues to be widely referenced in scholarly and other works. Occasionally controversial, it has been frequently anthologized, most recently in Amelia Jones, ed, The Feminism and Cultural Reader, Routledge.

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The Presence that Signals an Absence, 1993

Catalogue Essay, Coming to Power, David Zwirner Gallery — Written for the unpublished, photocopied catalogue of Coming to Power: 25 Years of Sexually X-plicit Art by Women, curated by Ellen Cantor and presented by David Zwirner Gallery and Simon Watson/The Contemporary, NYC, the essay examines O’Grady’s inclusion in the show and responses to her diptych The Clearing.

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Interview by Linda Montano, 1986

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.

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Performance Statement #3, 1983

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.

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Rivers, First Draft, 1982

Working script — O’Grady’s most autobiographical performance was a “three-ring” simultaneous narrative performed one time only in the Loch section of Central Park on August 18 for “Art Across the Park,” curated by Gilbert Coker and Horace Brockington. This script, redrafted until the day of performance, and a set of photo-documents are the only remains.

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Performance Statement #1, 1981

Unpublished statement, for Lucy Lippard — O’Grady early on felt the need, and was asked, to explain herself —as in this reply to a request by Lucy Lippard on politics in art. Lippard, curating “ACTING OUT: The first political performance art series,” had invited her to perform. The letter dated 1.1.81 addressed practical and other issues and became her first statement on performance art.

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