“Feminism and Friendship” at Beta Main
Written by Sara Fortson
Opening soon in Downtown Los Angeles, The Main Museum is offering a preview of their upcoming programming by launching “Beta Main.” Held in the space that will become the Main Museum’s main entrance, Beta Main had only been open a week, and already had a performance under their belt called “Performance Lessons.” In this event, performance artist Suzanne Lacy teaches Andrea Bowers how to be a performance artist. The performance lasted for nine days where both artists lived in the museum and performed every day between 12pm and 8pm. The performance also included various panels and talks centering on performance art and feminism.
On November 6th, the topic of conversation was “On Friendship and Feminism.” This panel included both Lacy and Bowers, who were joined by Micol Hebron and Leslie Labowitz-Starus. Hebron has been an artist in Los Angeles since the early ‘90s and Labowitz-Starus has been active in the LA art scene since 1977. The event started off with a panel of the four women who were discussing what it was like to be a woman artist in LA from around 1968-78. What was especially interesting was that all of the women had similar experiences regarding having to learn to work with other women. Cultivating friendships amongst fellow women, especially women that they were working with, seemed to be new territory. Labowitz-Starus said that it was difficult to learn how to work collaboratively with women and that they had to learn to work together instead of knowing how to work as equals instinctively. Another thing the women agreed on was that everything was about the work. Lacy mentioned having to seek out comfort from other women and therapists in order to be able to create and work through personal issues with her colleagues.
The panel discussion lasted for about an hour, and then the floor was opened up and questions and comments were taken from the audience. It was at this moment that it became apparent how diverse the gathering crowd was. Women who were active in the LA art scene during the 70’s were standing up and speaking. A young lady towards the back stood up twice to speak and thanked the panel for their work and laying the foundation for women artists in LA. Not only were women in attendance, but there were also quite a few men. One young speaker emphasized the importance of women of color in art, asking the crowd to help women artists of color further their careers in any way possible. At this point, the conversation took a turn into the semantics of the word “feminism” and how there is a need for a change in the language used to talk about feminist issues. In recent years, the lines between genders have blurred and become fluid. This flux in gender roles and definitions is a very welcome and necessary change.
In this current political climate, it’s important that places like Beta Main have events that deal with these issues. The panelists all spoke about learning to work with women and learning to see women as equals. Feminism is not taught in schools, so having discussions about feminism and connecting to other women whether it be for work or friendship, is important to the fight for equality.
This event was followed by another talk of the same format called, “Are Feminists Funny?” which discussed humor in performance art.
Beta Main displayed the related drawings resulting from the “Performance Lessons” piece through November 20th. There is no information as of yet on the official opening date for the Main Museum.
Beta Main is located at 114 W. 4th St., Los Angeles, CA 90013.
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