Lynda Benglis Retrospective at IMMA

Lynda BenglisLynda Benglis

I figured that given the significance of Lynda Benglis the space given to her at IMMA for her retrospective would have been a bit more generous, and its’ installation slightly more considered. Maybe I missed some of it, but I don’t think so. Her work, though fluid and conducive to cross-pollination, seemed to be crammed into the usually large seeming chambers of IMMA. She seemed to be an add-on to Parrenos’ exhibition, of which I wasn’t particularly fond to begin with. Which is a real shame as I really enjoyed her earlier work, in particular the series of glittery, almost tacky knots (see above) which were in reality quite large. Almost all the sculptural pieces on show were large and very imposing. When I viewed these knots prior to the exhibition I assumed they were small and delicate, almost domestic. But Benglis doesn’t really seem to do domesticity, even these forms were large and imposing. They became almost like totems, albeit of a whimsical dimension.

Her videos also seemed to be underrepresented. Four videos, including her most famous work Now formed this part of the exhibition. Now in particular seems quite seminal (from a feminist point of view- she’d probably deny this) but Benglis herself seems much more concerned with the form of the large sculptural objects she creates, rather than any particular message. Though its hard for her to take such a stance considering the provocation in which she has engaged in the past. In her talk Benglis refuted any political or feminist message, even though she herself seemed quite riled up when talking about the affairs of the day. But then, paradoxically, she suggests that the sort of work best suited to answer these contemporary issues is abstract and concerned only with form. Like hers. Though I myself would view this as apolitical and though impressive, quite useless in enacting change or awareness. The sort of work which would do this, in my view, is the kind of video work Benglis was making in the early 70s. I just don’t understand why she refuses any secondary motivation for these when its quite apparent that more pressing issues are at play than form.

 

I will return to this topic.

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