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Look, up in the sky! It's women's art

February 11, 2008|Sharon Mizota | Special to The Times

Although her work is well known now, Kruger recalls when it was still a novel thing for a woman to be a presence in the art world. "I think that Cindy and Jenny and Louise and I emerged at a time when women for the first time really entered the art market and it was no longer that we had to be marginalized and only show in women's spaces," she says. "That was a very important break."

"Women in the City" demonstrates and revels in how far its artists have moved from the fringes. "There's an automatic familiarity with this work," says Jenni Sorkin, an early member of the "WACK!" curatorial team. "There's a kind of luxury in doing a big public art project with mainstream artists in that there's an automatic visibility to it."

Still, despite high-profile artists and support from heavyweights in the L.A. art scene such as the Broad Art Foundation and LACMA, it's difficult to predict whether everyday Angelenos will see the show as a statement about women -- or as a "show" at all.

"It seems to me a hard city to pull off a public art project," Sorkin says. "L.A. is such a disparate place . . . you'd have to make a big effort to go see all the pieces."

For Fontana, L.A.'s sprawl is part of the show's appeal. "It's interesting for me to do this kind of project in Los Angeles because it's such an amazing culture of different ethnicities," she says.

She also hopes that "Women in the City" will remind a new generation that relationships between the sexes were not always as they are now. "Not dealing with feminism is for me the same as not dealing with history," she says, "I think a good artist should always deal with history."

For Kruger, the moment when feminism collided with mainstream art history was pivotal. "When I started, the art world in New York was like 12 white guys," she says, "It's so much better now because there's so many more subjectivities, so many more stories to tell and pictures to show that are somehow reflections of what it means to be a woman and to be a person of color, to be gay or straight, to be a white guy, to be whatever.

"There's just not one vision."

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