Issue 36 May 2024

Issue 35 February 2024

Issue 34 November 2023

Issue 33 August 2023

Issue 32 June 2023

Issue 31 February 2023

Issue 30 November 2022

Issue 29 August 2022

Issue 28 May 2022

Issue 27 February 2022

Issue 26 November 2021

Issue 25 August 2021

Issue 24 May 2021

Issue 23 February 2021

Issue 22 November 2020

Issue 21 August 2020

Issue 20 May 2020

Issue 19 February 2020

Letter from the Editor –Lindsay Preston Zappas
Parasites in Love –Travis Diehl
To Crush Absolute On Patrick Staff and
Destroying the Institution
–Jonathan Griffin
Victoria Fu:
Camera Obscured
–Cat Kron
Resurgence of Resistance How Pattern & Decoration's Popularity
Can Help Reshape the Canon
–Catherine Wagley
Trace, Place, Politics Julie Mehretu's Coded Abstractions
–Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.: Featuring: Friedrich Kunath,
Tristan Unrau, and Nevine Mahmoud
–Claressinka Anderson & Joe Pugliese
Reviews April Street
at Vielmetter Los Angeles
–Aaron Horst

Chiraag Bhakta
at Human Resources
–Julie Weitz

Don’t Think: Tom, Joe
and Rick Potts

–Matt Stromberg

Sarah McMenimen
at Garden
–Michael Wright

The Medea Insurrection
at the Wende Museum
–Jennifer Remenchik

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Mike Kelley
at Hauser & Wirth
–Angella d’Avignon
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Issue 18 November 2019

Letter from the Editor –Lindsay Preston Zappas
The Briar and the Tar Nayland Blake at the ICA LA
and Matthew Marks Gallery
–Travis Diehl
Putting Aesthetics
to Hope
Tracking Photography’s Role
in Feminist Communities
– Catherine Wagley
Instagram STARtists
and Bad Painting
– Anna Elise Johnson
Interview with Jamillah James – Lindsay Preston Zappas
Working Artists Featuring Catherine Fairbanks,
Paul Pescador, and Rachel Mason
Text: Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Children of the Sun
– Jessica Simmons

Derek Paul Jack Boyle
–Aaron Horst

Karl Holmqvist
at House of Gaga, Los Angeles
–Lee Purvey

Katja Seib
at Château Shatto
–Ashton Cooper

Jeanette Mundt
at Overduin & Co.
–Matt Stromberg
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Issue 17 August 2019

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Green Chip David Hammons
at Hauser & Wirth
–Travis Diehl
Whatever Gets You
Through the Night
The Artists of Dilexi
and Wartime Trauma
–Jonathan Griffin
Generous Collectors How the Grinsteins
Supported Artists
–Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Donna Huanca
–Lindsy Preston Zappas
Working Artist Featuring Ragen Moss, Justen LeRoy,
and Bari Ziperstein
Text: Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Sarah Lucas
at the Hammer Museum
–Yxta Maya Murray

George Herms and Terence Koh
at Morán Morán
–Matt Stromberg

Hannah Hur
at Bel Ami
–Michael Wright

Sebastian Hernandez
–Julie Weitz

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Alex Israel
at Greene Naftali
–Rosa Tyhurst

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Issue 16 May 2019

Trulee Hall's Untamed Magic Catherine Wagley
Ingredients for a Braver Art Scene Ceci Moss
I Shit on Your Graves Travis Diehl
Interview with Ruby Neri Jonathan Griffin
Carolee Schneemann and the Art of Saying Yes! Chelsea Beck
Exquisite L.A. Claressinka Anderson
Joe Pugliese
Reviews Ry Rocklen
at Honor Fraser
–Cat Kron

Rob Thom
at M+B
–Lindsay Preston Zappas

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age
of Black Power, 1963-1983
at The Broad
–Matt Stromberg

Anna Sew Hoy & Diedrick Brackens
at Various Small Fires
–Aaron Horst

Julia Haft-Candell & Suzan Frecon
at Parrasch Heijnen
–Jessica Simmons

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Shahryar Nashat
at Swiss Institute
–Christie Hayden
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Issue 15 February 2019

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Letter to the Editor
Men on Women
Geena Brown
Eyes Without a Voice
Julian Rosefeldt's Manifesto
Christina Catherine Martinez
Seven Minute Dream Machine
Jordan Wolfson's (Female figure)
Travis Diehl
Laughing in Private
Vanessa Place's Rape Jokes
Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Rosha Yaghmai
Laura Brown
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Patrick Martinez,
Ramiro Gomez, and John Valadez
Claressinka Anderson
Joe Pugliese
Reviews Outliers and American
Vanguard Art at LACMA
–Jonathan Griffin

Sperm Cult
–Matt Stromberg

Kahlil Joseph
–Jessica Simmons

Ingrid Luche
at Ghebaly Gallery
–Lindsay Preston Zappas

Matt Paweski
at Park View / Paul Soto
–John Zane Zappas

Trenton Doyle Hancock
at Shulamit Nazarian
–Colony Little

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Catherine Opie
at Lehmann Maupin
–Angella d'Avignon
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Issue 14 November 2018

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Celeste Dupuy-Spencer and Figurative Religion Catherine Wagley
Lynch in Traffic Travis Diehl
The Remixed Symbology of Nina Chanel Abney Lindsay Preston Zappas
Interview with Kulapat Yantrasast Christie Hayden
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Sandra de la Loza, Gloria Galvez, and Steve Wong
Claressinka Anderson
Photos: Joe Pugliese
Reviews Raúl de Nieves
at Freedman Fitzpatrick
-Aaron Horst

Gertrud Parker
at Parker Gallery
-Ashton Cooper

Robert Yarber
at Nicodim Gallery
-Jonathan Griffin

Nikita Gale
at Commonwealth & Council
-Simone Krug

Lari Pittman
at Regen Projects
-Matt Stromberg

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Eckhaus Latta
at the Whitney Museum
of American Art
-Angella d'Avignon
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Issue 13 August 2018

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Letter to the Editor Julie Weitz with Angella d'Avignon
Don't Make
Everything Boring
Catherine Wagley
The Collaborative Art
World of Norm Laich
Matt Stromberg
Oddly Satisfying Art Travis Diehl
Made in L.A. 2018 Reviews Claire de Dobay Rifelj
Jennifer Remenchik
Aaron Horst
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Anna Sew Hoy, Guadalupe Rosales, and Shizu Saldamando
Claressinka Anderson
Photos: Joe Pugliese
Reviews It's Snowing in LA
at AA|LA
–Matthew Lax

Fiona Conner
at the MAK Center
–Thomas Duncan

Show 2
at The Gallery @ Michael's
–Simone Krug

Deborah Roberts
at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
–Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi

Mimi Lauter
at Blum & Poe
–Jessica Simmons

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Math Bass
at Mary Boone
–Ashton Cooper

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Condo New York
–Laura Brown
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Issue 12 May 2018

Poetic Energies and
Radical Celebrations:
Senga Nengudi and Maren Hassinger
Simone Krug
Interior States of the Art Travis Diehl
Perennial Bloom:
Florals in Feminism
and Across L.A.
Angella d'Avignon
The Mess We're In Catherine Wagley
Interview with Christina Quarles Ashton Cooper
Object Project
Featuring Suné Woods, Michelle Dizon,
and Yong Soon Min
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Meleko Mokgosi
at The Fowler Museum at UCLA
-Jessica Simmons

Chris Kraus
at Chateau Shatto
- Aaron Horst

Ben Sanders
at Ochi Projects
- Matt Stromberg

iris yirei hsu
at the Women's Center
for Creative Work
- Hana Cohn

Harald Szeemann
at the Getty Research Institute
- Olivian Cha

Ali Prosch
at Bed and Breakfast
- Jennifer Remenchik

Reena Spaulings
at Matthew Marks
- Thomas Duncan
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Issue 11 February 2018

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Museum as Selfie Station Matt Stromberg
Accessible as Humanly as Possible Catherine Wagley
On Laura Owens on Laura Owens Travis Diehl
Interview with Puppies Puppies Jonathan Griffin
Object Project Lindsay Preston Zappas, Jeff McLane
Reviews Dulce Dientes
at Rainbow in Spanish
- Aaron Horst

Adrián Villas Rojas
at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
- Lindsay Preston Zappas

Nevine Mahmoud
at M+B
- Angella D'Avignon

Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960- 1985
at the Hammer Museum
- Thomas Duncan

Hannah Greely and William T. Wiley
at Parker Gallery
- Keith J. Varadi

David Hockney
at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (L.A. in N.Y.)
- Ashton Cooper

Edgar Arceneaux
at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (L.A. in S.F.)
- Hana Cohn
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Issue 10 November 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Barely Living with Art:
The Labor of Domestic
Spaces in Los Angeles
Eli Diner
She Wanted Adventure:
Dwan, Butler, Mizuno, Copley
Catherine Wagley
The Languages of
All-Women Exhibitions
Lindsay Preston Zappas
L.A. Povera Travis Diehl
On Eclipses:
When Language
and Photography Fail
Jessica Simmons
Interview with
Hamza Walker
Julie Wietz
Object Project
Featuring: Rosha Yaghmai,
Dianna Molzan, and Patrick Jackson
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos by Jeff McLane
Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA
Regen Projects
Ibid Gallery
One National Gay & Lesbian Archives and MOCA PDC
The Mistake Room
Luis De Jesus Gallery
the University Art Gallery at CSULB
the Autry Museum
Reviews Cheyenne Julien
at Smart Objects

Paul Mpagi Sepuya
at team bungalow

Ravi Jackson
at Richard Telles

Tactility of Line
at Elevator Mondays

Trigger: Gender as a Tool as a Weapon
at the New Museum
(L.A. in N.Y.)
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Issue 9 August 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Women on the Plinth Catherine Wagley
Us & Them, Now & Then:
Reconstituting Group Material
Travis Diehl
The Offerings of EJ Hill
Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi
Interview with Jenni Sorkin Carmen Winant
Object Project
Featuring: Rebecca Morris,
Linda Stark, Alex Olson
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos by Jeff McClane
Reviews Mark Bradford
at the Venice Biennale

Broken Language
at Shulamit Nazarian

Artists of Color
at the Underground Museum

Anthony Lepore & Michael Henry Hayden
at Del Vaz Projects


Analia Saban at
Sprueth Magers
Letter to the Editor Lady Parts, Lady Arts
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Issue 8 May 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Kanye Westworld Travis Diehl
@richardhawkins01 Thomas Duncan
Support Structures:
Alice Könitz and LAMOA
Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Penny Slinger
Eliza Swann
Exquisite L.A.
taisha paggett
Ashley Hunt
Young Chung
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Alessandro Pessoli
at Marc Foxx

Jennie Jieun Lee
at The Pit

Trisha Baga
at 356 Mission

Jimmie Durham
at The Hammer

Parallel City
at Ms. Barbers

Jason Rhodes
at Hauser & Wirth
Letter to the Editor
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Issue 7 February 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Catherine Wagley
Put on a Happy Face:
On Dynasty Handbag
Travis Diehl
The Limits of Animality:
Simone Forti at ISCP
(L.A. in N.Y.)
Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi
More Wound Than Ruin:
Evaluating the
"Human Condition"
Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.
Brenna Youngblood
Todd Gray
Rafa Esparza
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Creature
at The Broad

Sam Pulitzer & Peter Wachtler
at House of Gaga // Reena Spaulings Fine Art

Karl Haendel
at Susanne Vielmetter

Wolfgang Tillmans
at Regen Projects

at Chateau Shatto

The Rat Bastard Protective Association
at the Landing
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Issue 6 November 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Kenneth Tam
's Basement
Travis Diehl
The Female
Cool School
Catherine Wagley
The Rise
of the L.A.
Art Witch
Amanda Yates Garcia
Interview with
Mernet Larsen
Julie Weitz
Agnes Martin
Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.
Analia Saban
Ry Rocklen
Sarah Cain
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Made in L.A. 2016
at The Hammer Museum

Doug Aitken
at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

at Tif Sigfrids

Jean-Pascal Flavian and Mika Tajima
at Kayne Griffin Corcoran

Mark A. Rodruigez
at Park View

The Weeping Line
Organized by Alter Space
at Four Six One Nine
(S.F. in L.A.)
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Issue 5 August 2016

Letter form the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
at The Underground Museum
Catherine Wagley
The Art of Birth Carmen Winant
Escape from Bunker Hill
John Knight
Travis Diehl
Ed Boreal Speaks Benjamin Lord
Art Advice (from Men) Sarah Weber
Routine Pleasures
at the MAK Center
Jonathan Griffin
Exquisite L.A.
Fay Ray
John Baldessari
Claire Kennedy
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Revolution in the Making
at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

Carl Cheng
at Cherry and Martin

Joan Snyder
at Parrasch Heijnen Gallery

Elanor Antin
at Diane Rosenstein

Performing the Grid
at Ben Maltz Gallery
at Otis College of Art & Design

Laura Owens
at The Wattis Institute
(L.A. in S.F.)
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Issue 4 May 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Moon, laub, and Love Catherine Wagley
Walk Artisanal Jonathan Griffin
Marva Marrow's
Inside the L.A. Artist
Anthony Pearson
Mystery Science Thater:
Diana Thater
Aaron Horst
Informal Feminisms Federica Bueti and Jan Verwoert
Marva Marrow Photographs
Lita Albuquerque
Interiors and Interiority:
Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Char Jansen
Reviews L.A. Art Fairs

Material Art Fair, Mexico City

Rain Room

Evan Holloway
at David Kordansky Gallery

Histories of a Vanishing Present: A Prologue
at The Mistake Room

Carter Mull
at fused space
(L.A. in S.F.)

Awol Erizku
at FLAG Art Foundation
(L.A. in N.Y.)
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Issue 3 February 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Le Louvre, Las Vegas Evan Moffitt
iPhones, Flesh,
and the Word:
at Arturo Bandini
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Women Talking About Barney Catherine Wagley
Lingua Ignota:
Faith Wilding
at The Armory Center
for the Arts
Benjamin Lord
A Conversation
with Amalia Ulman
Char Jansen
How We Practice Carmen Winant
Share Your Piece
of the Puzzle
Federica Bueti
Amanda Ross-Ho Photographs
Erik Frydenborg
Reviews Honeydew
at Michael Thibault

Fred Tomaselli
at California State University, Fullerton

Trisha Donnelly
at Matthew Marks Gallery

Bradford Kessler
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Issue 2 November 2015

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Hot Tears Carmen Winant
Slow View:
Molly Larkey
Anna Breininger and Kate Whitlock
Americanicity's Paintings:
Orion Martin
at Favorite Goods
Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal
Layers of Leimert Park Catherine Wagley
Junkspace Junk Food:
Parker Ito
at Kaldi, Smart Objects,
White Cube, and
Château Shatto
Evan Moffitt
Melrose Hustle Keith Vaughn
Max Maslansky Photographs
Monica Majoli
at the Tom of Finland Foundation
White Lee, Black Lee:
William Pope.L’s "Reenactor"
Travis Diehl
Dora Budor Interview Char Jensen
Reviews Mary Ried Kelley
at The Hammer Museum

Tongues Untied
at MOCA Pacific Design Center

No Joke
at Tanya Leighton
(L.A. in Berlin)
Snap Reviews Martin Basher at Anat Ebgi
Body Parts I-V at ASHES ASHES
Eve Fowler at Mier Gallery
Matt Siegle at Park View
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Issue 1 August 2015

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Metaphysical L.A.
Travis Diehl
Art for Art’s Sake:
L.A. in the 1990s
Anthony Pearson
A Dialogue in Two
Synchronous Atmospheres
Erik Morse
with Alexandra Grant
at François Ghebaly
Jonathan Griffin
#studio #visit
with #devin #kenny
Mateo Tannatt
Jibade-Khalil Huffman
Slow View:
Discussion on One Work
Anna Breininger
with Julian Rogers
Reviews Pierre Huyghe

Mernet Larsen
at Various Small Fires

John Currin
at Gagosian, Beverly Hills

Pat O'Niell
at Cherry and Martin

A New Rhythm
at Park View

Unwatchable Scenes and
Other Unreliable Images...
at Public Fiction

Charles Gaines
at The Hammer Museum

Henry Taylor
at Blum & Poe/ Untitled
(L.A. in N.Y.)
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop
1301 PE
Anat Ebgi (La Cienega)
Anat Ebgi (Wilshire)
Arcana Books
Artbook @ Hauser & Wirth
Babst Gallery
Baert Gallery
Bel Ami
Canary Test
Carlye Packer
Charlie James Gallery
Château Shatto
Chris Sharp Gallery
Cirrus Gallery
Clay ca
Commonwealth & Council
Craft Contemporary
D2 Art (Inglewood)
D2 Art (Westwood)
David Kordansky Gallery
David Zwirner
Diane Rosenstein
François Ghebaly
Gana Art Los Angeles
George Billis Gallery
Giovanni's Room
Hannah Hoffman Gallery
Harper's Gallery
Hashimoto Contemporary
Heavy Manners Library
Helen J Gallery
Human Resources
in lieu
LaPau Gallery
Lisson Gallery
Louis Stern Fine Arts
Lowell Ryan Projects
Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
MAK Center for Art and Architecture
Make Room Los Angeles
Matter Studio Gallery
Matthew Brown Los Angeles
MOCA Grand Avenue
Monte Vista Projects
Morán Morán
Moskowitz Bayse
Nazarian / Curcio
Night Gallery
Nino Mier Gallery
NOON Projects
O-Town House
One Trick Pony
Paradise Framing
Park View / Paul Soto
Patricia Sweetow Gallery
Regen Projects
Reparations Club
r d f a
REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater)
Roberts Projects
Royale Projects
Sean Kelly
Sebastian Gladstone
Shoshana Wayne Gallery
Smart Objects
Steve Turner
Stroll Garden
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
The Box
The Fulcrum
The Hole
The Landing
The Poetic Research Bureau
The Wende Museum
Thinkspace Projects
Tierra del Sol Gallery
Tiger Strikes Astroid
Tomorrow Today
Track 16
Tyler Park Presents
USC Fisher Museum of Art
UTA Artist Space
Various Small Fires
Village Well Books & Coffee
Outside L.A.
Libraries/ Collections
Baltimore Museum of Art (Baltimore, MD)
Bard College, CCS Library (Annandale-on-Hudson, NY)
Charlotte Street Foundation (Kansas City, MO)
Cranbrook Academy of Art (Bloomfield Hills, MI)
Getty Research Institute (Los Angeles, CA)
Los Angeles Contemporary Archive (Los Angeles, CA)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA)
Maryland Institute College of Art (Baltimore, MD)
Midway Contemporary Art (Minneapolis, MN)
Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles, CA)
NYS College of Ceramics at Alfred University (Alfred, NY)
Pepperdine University (Malibu, CA)
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco, CA)
School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY)
University of California Irvine, Langston IMCA (Irvine, CA)
University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA)
University of Washington (Seattle, WA)
Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN)
Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY)
Yale University Library (New Haven, CT)

Putting Aesthetics
to Hope:
Tracking Photography’s Role
in Feminist Communities

Honey Lee Cottrell. Image courtesy of the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.

In 2016, a group of women sent scouts down to the border between Venezuela and Guyana to seek out land for their feminist utopia. At first, they called their planned community Herland, after the female separatist novel set vaguely in South America by feminist yet xenophobic writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman. They opened their community to trans individuals, and vigorously planned on Facebook and Tumblr pages that remained active until soon after the 2016 election—Trump’s ascent making escape all the more attractive. On a Facebook page with over 5,000 members, potential participants discussed capitalism, money, menstruation, and other logistics. Kate White, one of the founders, gave interviews. “We are putting feminism into actual practice,” she told Vice.1

The jungle utopia does not yet and may never exist, but the energy and dialogue around it was lively, even urgent. Such energy contrasts the reality facing separatist communities that already exist in North America, such as those founded in the 1970s and 1980s on “womyn’s land” (often rural land trusts inhabited by groups of lesbian women). For instance, Huntington Open Women’s Land, or HOWL, a community in rural Vermont, has seen membership steadily decline in recent years, especially among younger women— most residents remain over 50. Earlier this year, one HOWL member told the New York Times, “We need to take more photographs. For younger people, it’s all about Instagram, Facebook.”2

Funnily, photography played an expressly different role for womyn’s lands when they first began. Joan E. Biren, or JEB, said she considered the compellingly intimate photos she took of her community from the 1970s on as a kind of propaganda. She intended for the images to suggest possibilities— groups of lesbian mothers with babies; couples working the land together, harmoniously. “I believed they could help build a movement for our liberation,” JEB, now 75, said in April.3

Photographs by JEB and others appear in Carmen Winant’s newly-released, lyrically-titled artist book, Notes on Fundamental Joy; seeking the elimination of oppression through the social and political transformation of the patriarchy that otherwise threatens to bury us. As with Winant’s previous projects, including her 2018 book My Birth (filled with found images of women giving birth), all of the images in Notes on Fundamental Joy are made by others but assembled and arranged by Winant. They appear on thin, semi-translucent paper, each revealing a hint of the page to come. An essay by Winant runs along the bottom of each page, just one line of text anchoring an ongoing stream of enthralling photographs.

Her words, searching, inquisitive yet also minimal, tell us that she wants something from these images, which she began collecting during her first of two pregnancies and continued to assemble as she finished My Birth.4

She writes that she “fell into these pictures” because she found them “enormously seductive,” and felt that they helped her understand what she “was seeking out: a world where the rules and expectations of patriarchy did not exist, where violence (especially sexual violence) was eradicated and where only photography could serve to describe both.”5

Carmen Winant, Notes on Fundamental Joy; seeking the elimination of oppression through the social and political transformation of the patriarchy that otherwise threatens to bury us. Image courtesy of the artist and Printed Matter, Inc.

The book is largely about photography, and the role it plays in world building, specifically for a group of queer women working and living in the midst of feminism’s second wave. Winant admits that she has never identified as queer, and that the communities depicted in these images likely would have been closed to her; she cannot claim these women’s histories as her own. She can, however, question her attraction to the photographs, and hypothesizes that it’s a vision of optimism that she is ultimately seeking a vision of optimism: “What does [optimism] actually look like?” she asks. “Is there an aesthetic to hope, expectancy?”6 In this way, the book is more a gesture toward a feeling than a documentation of a moment in history. It’s a kind of visual gateway drug that entices viewers with possibilities of utopia, hope, and community—possibilities that have a special resonance in a moment when patriarchy seems to be both shattering in dramatic ways and reasserting its dominance. But it does not offer any thesis or pointers for how to adopt and adapt what we see to make it work for us now.

Throughout the book, women face each other much more often than they face the camera—they sit in large circles, or appear lost in conversation. When they do face a camera, it’s often because there’s another photographer outside the frame, photographing women being photographed. In a handful of images, there is a mirror, and both photographer and subject look into it. Because many of her source images came from the Feminist Photography Ovulars, workshops where lesbian feminist photographers taught the medium to their peers, Winant includes pages of images of women with cameras, sometime nude but for the cameras around their necks, sometimes completely lost in their work, sometimes posing for each other, or sometimes sitting in front of walls of photographic prints. The pressure and gloss of professionalism are absent, but all the focus and seriousness is there. Rarely do two images appear on the same page—Winant has given each one space, as if respecting its autonomy even while enveloping it into her own project. If the images in Winant’s book do portray seemingly ideal and truly collaborative interactions, they also evidence the limitations of the North American womyn’s land communities, which consisted primarily of white, cisgendered women, their liberation from their own prejudices and backgrounds clearly still incomplete. (Only one woman of color, appears in the book, shown adjusting her camera above text by Winant that asks, “[C]an feminism actually exist within capitalism? Can you in fact imagine occupying a non-patriarchal world?”)

The names of photographers do not appear next to or underneath their images. Instead, Winant credits the authors of the photographs—or the workshop or archive they came from, since some remain unattributed—in a small font on a single page in the book’s center. Neither the captions nor the pages have numbers, and the captions are not chronological, so there is no easy way to match photographer with image. This makes the images read even more like they belong to Winant’s stream-of-consciousness, all of them coming together with a rhythm and an energy that pull us into her processing of what it means to escape from patriarchy—and as an artist’s project, this is worthy and effective. But, much of this work warrants more historical recognition than it has received in its own right, and its beauty in many ways stems directly from the intentions and ideologies of its makers, which here feel subsumed by Winant’s own grappling.

The Ovulars began in 1979 in Oregon at Rootworks, the womyn’s land founded in 1978 by Ruth and Jean Mountaingrove. The couple, both women, had changed their surnames after moving to their previous intentional community called Mountain Grove. Ruth, who divorced her husband in the mid-1960s, began photographing the women’s movement and separatist communities in earnest in 1974. Five years later, she began the workshops because she wanted more dialogue around her own work, and to help bring others into the work she was already doing: portraying their lived experiences from their own perspectives. She chose “ovular” as the title because it contrasted the word “seminar,” which has etymological roots in the word semen and thus the spreading of that kind of seed. In the words of writer and artist Tee Corinne—who co-taught the workshops and published many resulting images in the magazine she contributed to and helped shape, The Blatant Image— described the workshops as “structured for support and against competition,” where “questions could be freely asked.”7 In her own images, Ruth Mountaingrove tended toward non-hierarchical compositions, avoiding single focal points in favor of capturing multiple interactions at once. In one image, which appears early on in Winant’s book, women sit in a circle, their bodies creating the oval form that dominates the composition. JEB, who also participated in the Ovulars, extended her own opposition to hierarchy to her language, refusing to use words like “capture” and “shoot,” or even to refer to “subjects.”8 She saw herself as being in conversation and collaboration with those in her photos. Rarely in JEB’s images is one figure the star. In a manner, Winant’s fluid, captionless arrangement of images mimics JEB’s democratic ethos—when everything is a collaboration, and no one is protagonist, it can be hard to know just how much of a stink to make about authorship.

Writer Ariel Goldberg, who, unlike Winant, identifies as a lesbian and as trans, composed the short essay that appears in the book’s center just before the image credits. Goldberg pushes this question of credit and authorship. “Where are these people in these pictures now?” (Some are dead, some still active, and others not found or unidentified by Goldberg or Winant.) They continue, “How do they feel about these images being circulated in an artists’ book […]? Who will gain notoriety and benefit from these images re-entering the world in a new context, outside the subcultures that created them?” This last question isn’t one Goldberg can answer definitively, not yet, though they do wonder at what this history of separatism—often too white, and inflexible with its definition of “woman”—offers now.

A series of self-portraits of Honey Lee Cottrell concludes the book. Cottrell, a photographer and filmmaker who attended the Ovulars, is at the barbershop, photographing herself in the shop’s wide mirror while an Asian-American man cuts her already-short hair. She continues to photograph herself as he finishes the job and loses interest, moving on to read the paper in the background of the frame. She looks at the camera confidently, half-smiling, surrounded by big mirrors and many liquid-filled bottles that share space with her almost equally. At this point, it has been years since the Ovulars met, and Cottrell is older, no longer surrounded only by women, but still documenting and contextualizing her butchness. In the text beneath, Winant, in closing, continues to wonder whether her engagement with these images might be hurtful to “those who participated, to those who inherited from this carving out of lesbian self.”9

If the book were more didactic, this would be an especially serious concern. But as it is, Notes on Fundamental Joy functions more as an invitation to engage alongside the artist in a wide-open process that has (as of yet) no clear end. No one-to-one process would bring the promise suggested in these images—which were always images, and thus just glimpses, even if truthful ones—into our present. We also know from experience that many, even those who would prefer a world without cis men, would not have been able to thrive or feel included in the versions of separatism that existed in the past, and that still persist in some form on womyn’s land now. What JEB said in 2004 still holds: “Once you decide that the world is messed up, then you have to question everything, everything” and “you have to figure out what is a revolutionary way to live.” She added, “figuring that out is just about a full-time job.”10 The job still needs doing or redoing, and the images in Notes on Fundamental Joy are an inspiration but not a guide.

This essay was originally published in Carla issue 18.

Honey Lee Cottrell. Image courtesy of the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.

Carmen Winant, Notes on Fundamental Joy; seeking the elimination of oppression through the social and political transformation of the patriarchy that otherwise threatens to bury us. Image courtesy of the artist and Printed Matter, Inc.

Honey Lee Cottrell. Image courtesy of the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.

Honey Lee Cottrell. Image courtesy of the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.

Honey Lee Cottrell. Image courtesy of the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.

Honey Lee Cottrell. Image courtesy of the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.

Honey Lee Cottrell. Image courtesy of the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.

Honey Lee Cottrell. Image courtesy of the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.

  1.  Gabby Bess, “No Man’s Land: How to Build a Feminist Utopia,” Vice, Oct. 13, 2015, article/xye9k3/no-mans-land-how-to-build-a-feminist-utopia.
  2.  Rina Raphael, “Why Doesn’t Anyone Want to Live in this Beautiful Place?”, The New York Times, Aug. 24, 2019,
  3.  Kerry Manders, “Photos of Lesbian Lives Meant to Inspire a Movement,” The New York Times, April 8, 2019,
  4.  Charlotte Jansen, “Why Photography Was So Important to These Lesbian Communities,” Artsy, Aug. 7, 2019,
  5.  Carmen Winant, Notes on Fundamental Joy; seeking the elimination of oppression through the social and political transformation of the patriarchy that otherwise threatens to bury us (New York: Printed Matter, 2019).
  6. Ibid.
  7.  Tee A. Corrine, “The Blatant Image: Making a Magazine,” Women In Photography: Expanding Connections conference, June 16–18, 1989, Bryn Mawr College.
  8.  Manders, “Photos of Lesbian Lives.”
  9.  Winant, Notes on Fundamental Joy.
  10.  Joan E. Biren, Interviewed by Kelly Anderson, Voices of Feminism Oral History Project, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, February 27–28, 2004.

Catherine Wagley writes about art and visual culture in Los Angeles.

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