AbstractsWomens Studies

Collaborative Bodies in Action: Senga Nengudi's R.S.V.P. Répondez S'il Vous Plaît (1977/2003)

by Victoria Marie Taormina

Institution: University of California – Riverside
Year: 2016
Keywords: Art history; American studies; Women's studies
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2134631
Full text PDF: http://www.escholarship.org/uc/item/29x9b6pn


As an artistic site Los Angeles of the 1960s and 70s poses a unique set of cultural juxtapositions. Elements understood as distinctly Californian – things like constant freeway construction, wide expanses of suburban space, and even Disneyland – inform artistic practices as well as how bodies within this space relate to one another. The newness of Los Angeles as a city constantly in development positions Southern California as an idyllic utopian space of possibility, but in turn, this same constant development internalizes structures of power and racism throughout its construction. These juxtapositions complicate the relationship Black artists in Los Angeles have with the concept of home and this dissonance is manifested in the artistic practices of those connected to this space – marking Los Angeles as a highly specific site for artistic and cultural production. In 2011 Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960-1980, curated by Kellie Jones, exhibited at UCLA's Hammer Museum. Comprising the work of 35 Los Angeles based artists across a variety of mediums, Now Dig This! was one of the first large scale efforts to record the contributions of African American visual artists to the dynamic west coast arts scene of the 1960s. The artists within this Los Angeles arts scene embraced a multimedia hybrid aesthetic and were often informed by the city's dynamic relationship with the Civil Rights and Black Liberation politics of the era. Although Now Dig This! showcased the early work of celebrated artists like David Hammons and Betye Saar, a distinct portion of the work exhibited was by artists less well known within the Los Angeles Black Arts Movement, such as Senga Nengudi and Maren Hassinger.