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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My 1980s, Art Journal 2012

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."

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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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Four Diptychs, 2010

[In English] Pétunia: magazine féministe d'art contemporain 2, France — The French feminist magazine Petunia’s invitation to create a centerfold sparked O’Grady’s piece in the 2010 Whitney Biennial, The First and the Last of the Modernists. The text documents her decision to contrast images of Baudelaire and Michael Jackson.

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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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The Black and White Show, 2009

1983 curated show, re-presented in Artforum, May 2009 — The artist portfolio that accompanied a survey article on O’Grady’s work by Nick Mauss in a two-article Artforum cover spread combined impressionistic text on her experience curating “The Black and White Show,” 1983, with historically analytic captions for works from the show.

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PS1 newspaper interview, 2008

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.

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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, 2007

WACK! audio statement, published in Art Lies #54, Summer 2007 — For WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution, the first major museum exhibit of feminist art, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in L.A., O’Grady was asked to record an audio statement for the cell-phone tour to explain how her piece related to the show’s theme.

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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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The 1980s: An Internet Conference, 2005

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.

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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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Nefertiti/Devonia Evangeline, 1997

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.

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Interview by Theo Davis, 1996

In Sojourner: The Women's Forum, November 1996 — Conducted in Cambridge during O’Grady’s one-year residency at the Bunting Institute at Harvard, the interview may have been affected by what she’d felt as adverse treatment there of her diptych The Clearing.

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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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The Space Between, 1995

Artist brochure statement for Lorraine O’Grady / MATRIX 127, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT, May 21 – Aug 20, 1995. Adapted from “Lorraine O’Grady, conceptual artist,” in Susan Cahan and Zoya Kocur, eds., Contemporary Art and Multicultural Education. New York: The New Museum of Contemporary Art and Routledge, 1996.

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Thoughts on Diaspora and Hybridity, 1994

Unpublished lecture, Wellesley College — Written shortly after the “Postscript” to “Olympia’s Maid,” this lecture delivered to the Wellesley Round Table, a faculty symposium on Miscegenated Family Album, takes a retrospective look at O’Grady’s earlier life and work through the prism of cultural theory.

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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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Basquiat and the Black Art World, 1993

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.

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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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WAC (Womens Action Coalition), 1992

Front-of-book feature, Artforum, October 1992 — O’Grady was one of less than a handful of women of color active in the Womens Action Coalition. WAC had been begun by women in the New York art world in response to Anita Hill’s denigration during the congressional hearing on Clarence Thomas’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

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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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Performance Statement #2, 1982

Unpublished statement, for Judson Memorial Church, unsent — In writing a proposal to perform Rivers at Judson Memorial Church, a venue with important avant-garde history, O’Grady unexpectedly reached greater clarity on the spiritual aspects of her work, especially its forms.

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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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Nefertiti/Devonia Evangeline at Oberlin, 1982

High Performance #17/18, Artist’s Chronicle — After a delay to see if the first chronicle on Mlle Bourgeoise Noire would be accepted by High Performance, a second on Nefertiti/Devonia Evangeline was submitted the following year — though it had in fact premiered at Just Above Midtown just 3 months later.

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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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