The Eve of the Future … I was walking through Mass MoCA’s new spring shows, and the name of one of Carrie Schneider’s photographs caught my eye. Eve … the first woman who tasted knowledge, who saw the garden with the scope and attention of the mind who made it … What would the Eve of the future look like?
The artists downstairs in To See Oneself at a Distance might give me an idea, in their ‘histories of liberation, revolution and solidarity’ — maybe in the words pressed into golden handmade paper, as Huong Ngo honors Vietnamese activist Nguyen Thi Minh Khai and her writings on ‘The Question of Women.’
But up here, walking through Carrie Schneider’s mammoth abstract photographs, that name becomes a metric and a stark evocation of what I wasn’t seeing. In the pandemic, Schneider created a camera the size of the room, and she created massive prints, many of them portraits, often partial and abstracted.
As a record of the dislocation of the pandemic, these have power. Their palette of rusts and turquoise blues and shadows can have a visceral and spectral effect. But as I looked at them wiht that phrase in mind, I was thinking, I don’t want the Eve of the future to look like she has a black eye or blood on her face. Or to strobe and flicker out. Or to be blurred out of focus or chained down, or disembodied — or faceless.
I want to see her confident, tangible, in touch with the world and herself, insistent on hope. If tomorrow’s Eve is walking through this old mill, I thought, I might find her in Kapwani Kisanga’s Flowers for Africa, evergreen garlands and aromatics and white roses.
Or I might see another avatar, a spirit of a woman made from clay, in Rose B Simpson’s ceramic figures, and feel that confidence standing on the earth — maybe not in the three here by the entrance, leaning their foreheads into the wall, but in her sculptures at Field Farm facing the sunrise …
Artist Huong Ngo honors Vietnamese activist Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, and artist Kapwani Kisanga honors freedom and revolution in Flowers for Africa, in evergreen garlands and aromatics and white roses.
Events coming up …
Find more art and performance, outdoors and food in the BTW events calendar.