ANDREA BOWERS, CULTURE OF CHOICE
May 7 – July 2, 2005
Andrea Bowers’ exhibition, “Culture of Choice” continues her exploration of average people acting in extraordinary ways and focuses on the history of activism and civil disobedience. The exhibition contains video, drawing and installation. This body of work contextualizes historical events in our current situation and underscores their poignancy upon our current state of affairs. The role of design as a political tool is emphasized and modernist formalism’s assumed position of neutrality is questioned.
“Culture of Choice”, the title of the show, is a word play on “culture of life”, the current dogmatic slogan used by right wing conservatives in America to promote anti-abortion views through a manipulative, euphemistic language. The video, “Letters to an Army of Three” is part of a body of work Bowers is developing about an activist group called the Army of Three, a group of 3 women activists located in the San Francisco Bay area of California who crusaded nationally for legal abortions and woman’s health rights. From 1964 to 1973 they were a major force behind the U.S.’s biggest underground pro-choice movement. The two living members of the Army of Three have given her copies of hundreds of letters that were written to them by people desperate to find abortions for themselves or loved ones prior to the legalization of abortion in America. The video records 35 actors reading these letters; the words of the past come through the voices of those in the present. The video’s setting emulates 18th century portrait paintings of women with flower arrangements. An oversized book contains a much more comprehensive collection of these letters which are separated from each other with different sheets of decorative gift-wrapping paper. The pages of the book have been copied and hang on the wall as a large poster installation. One drawing is included from “Design of Choice”, a series of photorealistic colored pencil drawings of vintage pro-choice pins and decorative wrapping-papers.