Judy Chicago’s Immolation IV: an avenging goddess

Firestarter …

Judy Chicago has a place in art history thanks to her pioneering work establishing the United States’s first feminist art school programmes and her installation The Dinner Party, with place settings for grand dames of past eras. Until recently, though, her work with pyrotechnics, begun in the late 1960s, was largely forgotten.

Cloud cover …

To make her images of women immersed like avenging goddesses or sacrifices in coloured clouds, she grabbed fireworks and smoke and headed to the beach, forest or desert with her friends.

Up in smoke …

In 1972’s Immolation IV, the artist Faith Wilding assumes the pose of Buddhist monks who set themselves alight in protest at the Vietnam war. The psychedelic colours give the image a modern edge but it’s timeless, too, nodding to endless self-sacrifices asked of women.

Soft focus …

The billowing haze softens the environment, providing a feminine counter to a masculine conception of the world that was, as an earlier generation of feminists saw it, hard-edged. Skye Sherwin

Included in Still I Rise: Feminisms, Gender, Resistance – Act 3, Arnolfini, Bristol, to 15 Dec


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