A profile and interview in the New York Times herald the opening of the first ever retrospective of conceptual artist Lorraine O’Grady. Through four decades of performances, critiques, and image making, she has challenged the world to see its interconnectedness and to be more inclusive, even before those concepts became mainstream. The exhibition opens at the Brooklyn Museum on March 5, 2021.
“The times have finally caught up with me, so I don’t feel out of step now.”
For four decades she has played a pivotal role, clearing her own terrain at the hinge of feminist, Conceptual, and Black art. She burst on the scene with performances that would acquire a gloss of legend. But her work spans collage, photomontage, video, and cultural criticism — a voracious and eclectic practice, mixing image and word, theory and play.
“I am somebody who is moving from one idea, to the next, to the next, to the next,” the artist, now 86, said recently during a series of telephone and video conversations. “I feel that I’m working on the skin of the culture and I’m making incisions.”
And now, having long held her on the fringes, like so many older Black and female artists, the mainstream art world is finally catching up. O’Grady’s first-ever retrospective, titled “Both/And,” opens on March 5 at the Brooklyn Museum. It follows the publication last November, by Duke University Press, of an anthology of her essays and interviews.
“For 40 years nobody knew what I was doing, really,” she said, welcoming of the new attention while casting a critical eye. The retrospective, she said, “is a wonderful opportunity, not just for everyone to get to know my work, but for me to get to know my work better.”