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MFA Student Leah Schrager reviewed in Artforum

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In January 2015, MFA Student Leah Schrager and Jennifer Chan curated an online exhibition titled “Body Anxiety”. Body Anxiety shares the varied perspectives of over 20 artists who examine gendered embodiment, performance and self-representation on the internet. In “Body Anxiety” Schrager and Chan have selected a collection of female-empowering artworks to present in one single location in hopes of reshaping pre-existing narrative of gendered appropriation.

Here’s an excerpt of its Review at the Artforum website:


“WHENEVER YOU PUT YOUR BODY ONLINE, in some way you are in conversation with porn.” The large-type epigraph on the landing page of the online exhibition “Body Anxiety” was culled from an interview with artist Ann Hirsch, whose frustrated musings in ☆ミ, or Starwave, an invitation-only Facebook group for “Internet-savvy” women artists, curators, and writers, spurred Jennifer Chan and Leah Schrager to organize the show. But the tensions percolating in “Body Anxiety” are long-standing. This unruly collection of work from mostly little-known artists, many from overlapping feminist subsets of the male-dominated Net art and alt-lit worlds, addresses perennially contentious issues of representation (pornographic and otherwise). They take as a given that social media—as a platform for art, activism, and sexual expression, and as a potent facilitator of image appropriation and abuse—is the primary context for such investigations today.

While no one involved with the show is exactly eager to publicly name-check Net artist–cum-painter Ryder Ripps or eminent pioneer of appropriation Richard Prince, it’s these artists’ recent uses of sexy photos from women’s Instagram accounts that have brought brewing discontent to a head in the Starwave community. Ripps’s exhibition “Ho,” on view at Postmasters Gallery in New York this past winter, hit especially close to home; his oil paintings based on digitally distorted portraits of fitness model and health guru Adrianne Ho were all the more galling because Ripps is a peer of young Starwavers. The most scathing critics of his new work characterize it as banal theft and sexist defacement of a woman’s images, calling out the puerile double entendre of the show’s title while they’re at it.

Read more on Artforum.

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