Andrew Kreps Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of Barbara T. Smith’s seminal 1971 work Holy Squash at 394 Broadway.
Belonging to Smith’s extensive experiments with resin from the 1970s, the Holy Squash is an installation comprised of objects utilized in a durational performance titled Holy Squash Ceremony, which was centered around a large Hubbard Squash that Smith adopted as an object of worship. Reported to local newspapers at the time as an authentic religious ceremony, the performance’s participants, referred to as disciples or converts, held a mass and baptism as they built a mold to cast the decaying squash over the course of eight days. The resulting resin cast is positioned as a holy relic and displayed alongside its mold, now a reliquary, surround by ephemera, clothing, and objects also utilized in the performance, which Smith describes as containing “miracles, persecutions, and betrayals.” Part of a larger inquiry into ritual and community within Smith’s practice, Holy Squash examines the latent gender hegemony in the Judeo-Christian religious traditions and suggests a female-centered alternative.
Since the 1960s, Barbara T. Smith’s work has demonstrated an engagement with issues of spirituality, gender, and power, making vital contributions to both feminist discourse, and the history of West Coast performance art. Smith received her BA from Pomona College in 1953, and MFA in 1971 from the University of California, Irvine where she was a founding member of F-Space with Chris Burden and Nancy Buchanan. She has exhibited widely since the 1960s and was recently included in the exhibitions Artists and Their Books / Books and Their Artists, the Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles; Experiments in Electrostatics, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Her work was included in several major exhibitions as part of Pacific Standard Time organized by the Getty, 2011-12, including State of Mind: New California Art Circa 1970, Orange County Museum of Art, CA and Bronx Museum, NY; and Under the Big Black Sun: California Art 1974 - 1981, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Additionally, Smith’s work was represented in several historic survey exhibitions that include Whatever Happened to Sex in Scandinavia?, Office for Contemporary Art, Oslo, Norway, 2009, and WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution, MoCA, Los Angeles, 2007, and The Radicalization of a 50’s Housewife at University of California, Irvine. In 2005, Smith had a retrospective The 21st Century Odyssey Part II: The Performances of Barbara T. Smith at Pomona College Museum of Art, CA.