Phaidon Contemporary Artist Series
Text by Julia Bryan-Wilson, Jeannine Tang, and Lanka Tattersall
Born 1970, Baltimore, Maryland. Lives and works in New York City.
If They Should Ask, Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia
In My Little Corner of the World, Anyone Would Love You, The Common Guild, Glasgow
In My Little Corner of the World, Anyone Would Love You, Studio Voltaire, London
Black Box: Sharon Hayes, Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland
Nothing Will Be As Before, Tanya Leighton, Berlin
Artists for Studio Voltaire, Studio Voltaire, London
Department of Contemporary Art, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minnesota
I can call this progress to halt, LACE, Los Angeles
Change of State, Essex Street, New York
The Revolution Will Not Be Gray, Aspen Art Museum, Colorado
Curators’ Series #9. Way of Living (curated by Arcadia Missa), David Roberts Art Foundation, London
Fingernails on a blackboard: Bella
‘Fingernails on a blackboard: Bella’ investigate how voice acts as the embodied medium of speech. Hayes takes the 1977 National Women’s Conference in Houston, TX as a historical point of departure. The 1977 conference was a result of an executive order to assess the status of women in light of the United Nations proclaiming 1975 as International Women’s Year. Following the well attended and highly publicized event, an extension was granted for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. But having only been ratified by 35 states by the 1982 deadline, the amendment never passed.
The video work uses the transcript of a meeting between politician Bella Abzug – the New York Congresswoman who was appointed to head the National Women’s Conference – and her vocal coach. During their meeting, the pair work at neutralizing Abzug’s regional accent and softening her tone – strategically altering her voice to something more universal and soothing.
‘Fingernails on a blackboard: Bella’ addresses the political consequences of gender and the specific limitations of power, communication and relatability in the specter of public speech.