BAMPFA show exploring half century of feminist art opens Saturday

The exhibition, one of the largest in the museum’s history, will present over 140 works by 76 artists and art collectives.

Kiki Smith: Lilith, 1994; silicon, bronze, glass. Photo credit: Ben Blackwell

This weekend, the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive will open what looks to be a groundbreaking new show surveying contemporary feminist artistic practices.

New Time: Art and Feminisms in the 21st Century opens at the downtown Berkeley museum on Saturday, Aug. 28, and runs through Jan. 31, 2022.

Organized by BAMPFA curator Apsara DiQuinzio, this expansive exhibition — one of the largest in the museum’s recent history — presents over 140 works, in a wide range of media and genres, by a diverse, international lineup of 76 established and emerging artists and artist collectives, of all genders, who have advanced the evolution of contemporary feminist art. 

The feminist art movement, which emerged in the late 1960s, is among the most influential international movements in the postwar period. Far from slowing down, its energy has accelerated. And it has broadened to include an ever more heterogenous variety of artists, ideas, and artistic expression. Gaining in complexity, “feminism” has become “feminisms,” plural.


Expect the show to be challenging yet engaging, full of disruptions and discoveries.

There’ll be artists whose names and work you may recognize and admire already, including Louise Bourgeois, Judy Chicago, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Jenny Holzer, Simone Leigh, Marilyn Minter, Pussy Riot, Lorna Simpson, Kiki Smith, Lava Thomas, Kara Walker, and Francesca Woodman.

Others may be less familiar, like Chitra Ganesh, Nikki Green, Ella Kruglyanskaya, Kalup Linzy, Zanele Muholi, Mai-Thu Perret, Christina Quarles, R. H. Quaytman, Carol Rama, Lara Schnitger, Amy Sillman, Sturtevant, and Wu Tsang.

Collectively, their contributions will illuminate notions of what “feminism” means today, in art and in life.

Kara Walker: Endless Conundrum, An African Anonymous Adventuress, 2001. Courtesy of Walker Art Center

New Time is arranged thematically, to explore a variety of artistic approaches to feminist issues. “Time as Fabric,” for instance, looks at the ways artists reinterpret historical themes through a feminist lens. “Gender Alchemy” considers the shifting categories of gender, and how artists represent bodies that resist fixed gender binary stereotypes. In “Too Nice for Too Long,” artists meditate on the power of female anger.

BAMPFA is publishing a fully illustrated, comprehensive 240-page catalog for New Time, edited by DiQuinzio, featuring new scholarship and interviews on feminist art topics. It includes DiQuinzio’s introductory essay as well as contributions by noted writers and feminist thinkers Lyn Hejinian, Jamieson Webster, Chiara Bottici, Judith Butler, Mel Y. Chen, Julia Bryan-Wilson, Natalia Brizuela and Hortense Spillers, among others.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a packed schedule of events throughout its run: performances, lectures, artmaking workshops, public conversations, artist talks, poetry readings and more — all focusing on gender, feminism and recent feminist art practices.

One notable event is the marathon seven-hour performance by renowned pianist Sarah Cahill, on Saturday, Dec. 18, in the Crane Forum just inside the museum’s entrance. Cahill will perform over 70 pieces by female composers, from the Baroque era to now. 

Read more about New Time and see the full program calendar.

Ellen Gallagher: Odalisque, 2005. Courtesy of the artist, Gagosian Gallery and Hauser & Wirth. Photo credit: Barbora Gerny 
Laura Aguilar: Grounded #111, 2006. Courtesy of Laura Aguilar Trust of 2016
Linda Stark: Feminist (with pool), 2011. Courtesy of the artist and David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles
Simone Leigh: Hortense, 2016. Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth