Suzanne Bocanegra

Suzanne Bocanegra, La Fille, installation view (detail), 2018.
Suzanne Bocanegra, La Fille (installation view), 2018. Photo credit: Thibault Jeanson.

Suzanne Bocanegra is an artist best known for her work in performance and installation. She began exhibiting as a painter and sculptor in the 1990s, but in 2010, an invitation to lecture on her work at the Museum of Modern Art became an opportunity to approach the trope of the ‘artist lecture’ as a performative, sculptural installation. Since that moment her work has attempted to blur the boundaries between the “black box” of the theater and the “white box” of the museum.

Poorly Watched Girls takes its title from the 18th-century ballet La Fille mal gardee, one of the first ballets ever made, and itself based on a painting of the same name. Her exhibition explores the ways that our cultural entertainments theatricalize women in trouble-spiritual trouble, emotional trouble, and romantic trouble. By restaging a legendary ballet, an acclaimed opera, and a cult film in a museum setting, Bocanegra refocuses our attention on how the vulnerability of women fuels our popular entertainments.

Textiles and fabric are at the core of many of Bocanegra’s works, and play a large role in this exhibition. Bocanegra and The Fabric Workshop and Museum collaborated closely on the detailed sewing, the fabrication of costumes, and the screen-printing of material seen throughout the show.

Artist Bio

American, born 1957, lives in New York City.

A recipient of the Rome Prize, Suzanne Bocanegra has received grants from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, the Tiffany Foundation, the Joan Mitchell Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. Her recent work involves large-scale performance and installation, frequently translating two-dimensional information, images and ideas from the past into three-dimensional scenarios for staging, movement, ballet, and music. Bocanegra’s work has been presented in the United States and abroad, in such venues as Armand Hammer Museum in Los Angeles; the Serpentine Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Hayward Gallery in London. Her theatrical, video and film work has been presented at the Bang on Can Festival, the New Haven Festival of Art and Ideas, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, the Brooklyn Academy of Music and as part of the Wordless Music series in New York.