The Radicalization of a '50s Housewife
The Radicalization of a 50s Housewife revisits Barbara T. Smith's transgressive artwork Birthdaze, produced in 1980 and later performed on the occasion of the artist's 50th Birthday. Combining elements of Catholic hagiography with Eastern Tantric ritual, the performance symbolized Smith's journey away from 50s society life towards 60s feminism, avant-garde culture and beyond. In addition to the original artwork, this exhibition features archival material documenting Birthdaze's making, illuminating Smith's political and aesthetic intentionality for the first time. The Radicalization of a 50s Housewife further positions Birthdaze as the result of Smith's life's work – both as a feminist and an artist – beginning in the conservative post-war period of the 50s, through the cultural revolution of the 60s/70s and culminating in the nascent moment of the Reagan era, when the culture wars were looming on the horizon. Curated by Juli Carson, this exhibition is part of the UAG's Major Work of Art Series, which features first generation conceptual and performance artists whose work is in dialogue with contemporary art practice.
The UAG is proud to be participating in Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980, a collaboration of more than 60 cultural institutions across Southern California coming together for the first time to celebrate the birth of the L.A. art scene.