Borrowing from the political resistance language of Pussy Riot for the title, Sounding the Note of A, is Maureen Selwood’s first one artist exhibition as well as her first with Rosamund Felsen Gallery. Both a departure from and an outgrowth of Selwood’s career as a filmmaker who incorporates installation and performance, this exhibition features works on paper and sculptures. Sounding the Note of A explores gestures of resistance from women throughout history and celebrates women’s strength in outrage and defiance through sensual yet halting abstractions. Inspired by the medieval trial of Joan of Arc, the treason of anti-Nazi activist Sophie Scholl, and the contemporary punk prayer of Pussy Riot, Sounding the Note of A grapples with the uncompromising feminine. Selwood extols the power of sensuality and thought to transcend violence.
The exhibition features transfer drawings with graphite and gold leaf ranging in color from ethereal blues to fully saturated acidic hues, as the motifs journey from the mystical to the now. The gold leaf unifies and anchors the drawings in a world that is both mythical and unsentimental. The exhibition also features a garden of five sculptural heads constructed from chicken wire, burlap, hydrocal and knit yarn. The materiality of the sculptures references the lineage of women’s work, from the empowerment of craft to the oppression of the sweatshop. Evocative of Pussy Riot’s iconic vibrant balaclavas (garments covering the head), the sculptures confront viewers with the contradictory power of masks to both conceal the subjective identity of the wearer and reveal broader interior truths.
Maureen Selwood’s films and installations have been shown at the Whitney Museum, Le Centre Pompidou, MOMA, REDCAT, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Barnsdall, Harvard Carpenter Center and the Sharjah Biennial and others. Her films have been screened in international film festivals including the Venice Biennale Film Festival, Annecy FF, SXSW, Ottawa, Cardiff, Cork, ANIMAC, Dallas, Chicago, New York, Hong Kong and Se-Ma-For to name a few. Selwood has received grants from the Center for Cultural Innovation (L.A.), C.O.L.A. Individual Artists Fellowship (L.A.), John Solomon Guggenheim Foundation, NY State Council on the Arts, the Jerome Foundation and the American Film Institute. Residencies include the MacDowell Colony, ARTELUKU (Spain) and a Rome Prize Fellowship at the American Academy in Rome. She presently lives in L.A. and is a member of the faculty at the School of Film/Video at CalArts.