Counter-Landscapes: Performative Actions from the 1970s – Now

Antonia Wright is one of 24 artists featured in SMoCA’s “Counter-Landscapes: Performative Actions from the 1970s – Now” exhibition. Attendees can watch Wright’s 2017 video titled “Under the Water Was Sand, The Rocks, Miles of Rocks, Then Fire.”

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art’s year-long 20th-anniversary celebration continues with a new, milestone fall exhibition.  

SMoCA is hosting its first large-scale group exhibition, called “Counter-Landscapes: Performative Actions from the 1970s – Now.” 

It marks the first time in the museum’s history its galleries are dedicated solely to performance art.

Through Jan. 19, “Counter-Landscapes” features the work of 24 artists spanning generations from the 1970s to now. All artists bring about new ways of seeing and interacting with the environment.

The multi-gallery exhibition focuses on methods of female artists in the ‘70s and ‘80s, including Agnes Denes, Rebecca Horn, Suzanne Lacy, Adrian Piper, and Bonnie Ora Sherk and how those methods are still used today.

“Counter-Landscapes’” tells a new story about how women artists were groundbreaking in the 1970s and ’80s and how relevant and timely the work remains,” said Jennifer McCabe, SMoCA’s director and chief curator.

According to McCabe, “Counter-Landscapes” pairs important historical works – some on loan from the Tate in London – with new works, including four large-scale installations by contemporary artists, one performance commission and a series of public programs “to deepen the understanding of the works on view.”

Younger artists include those whose work addresses social, environmental and personal transformation.

Phoenix-Scottsdale artist Saskia Jordá, for example, will present some of the works in her new project series, “Disputed Territories - Disputed Bodies,” in the SMoCA exhibition. 

“I’m thrilled that some of the works in ‘Disputed Territories - Disputed Bodies’ project will be included in ‘Counter-Landscapes,’” Jordá told the “Progress.”

According to Jordá, “Disputed Territories” builds upon the themes of place and cultural identity.

It explores place identity through the metaphor of the mapping of territorial disputes, interpreting the female body as the actual territory in dispute.

The exhibit pulls from her previous works that use mapping as the main visual language.

"'Disputed Territories – Disputed Bodies’ derives from my personal experience of assimilation and is amplified in the current ongoing border issues and body-rights politics,” Jordá said.

 “Living in a border state and as a female worrying about policies that will affect our bodies for generations, this project series takes on an additional sense of urgency,” she added.

Maria Hupfield, a Toronto-based artist and member of the Anishinaabe Nation at Wasauksing First Nation in Ontario, also takes part in the exhibition.

The rest of the participating artists include Marina Abramović, Allora & Calzadilla, Francis Alÿs, Eleanor Antin, Agnes Denes, Angela Ellsworth, Valie Export, Ana Teresa Fernández, Rebecca Horn, Leslie Labowitz, Suzanne Lacy, Ana Mendieta, Christian Philipp Müller, Adrian Piper, Pope.L, Lotty Rosenfeld, Bonnie Ora Sherk, Sarah Cameron Sunde, Beth Ames Swartz, Zhou Tao, Mierle Laderman Ukeles and Antonia Wright. 

As part of the “Counter-Landscapes” exhibition, attendees will see a wide range of artwork, from photography, video and performance - to sculpture and installation.

Additionally, the exhibition will be accompanied by a four-color, 150-page catalog designed by Fernando Espinosa. 

The catalog, which will be available January 2020, features extensive research as well as essays by McCabe and scholars Dr. Natasha Boas and Dr. Jolene Rickard. 

Exhibition support was provided by the Walter and Karla Goldschmidt Foundation, the Diane and Bruce Halle Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.