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Monica Ross: A Critical Fine Art Practice
CHELSEA space
Above: (1) Monica Ross, with Gillian Allnutt, Shirley Cameron, Mary Michaels and Evelyn Silver, Sister Seven, 1981–84. (2) Monica Ross, Triple Transformations: Ghost in the Spinning Mill, 1985. (3) Monica Ross, Like Gold in the Furnace, 1987. (4) Monica Ross with Sheffield Socialist Choir and Northern Refugee Centre, Anniversary—an act of memory, Act 38 We Are All Equal, 2011. Photos: Bernard G. Mills.
Above: (1) Monica Ross, with Gillian Allnutt, Shirley Cameron, Mary Michaels and Evelyn Silver, Sister Seven, 1981–84. (2) Monica Ross, Triple Transformations: Ghost in the Spinning Mill, 1985. (3) Monica Ross, Like Gold in the Furnace, 1987. (4) Monica Ross with Sheffield Socialist Choir and Northern Refugee Centre, Anniversary—an act of memory, Act 38 We Are All Equal, 2011. Photos: Bernard G. Mills.

British artist Monica Ross died in 2013 leaving an influential 40-year body of pioneering, socially-engaged, feminist and performative art practice that has profound significance for contemporary art and society.

The exhibition titled A Critical Fine Art Practice reflects on a diverse body of work across decades of production, and will include archival material and works from 1970-2013 comprising early feminist collaborative works, drawings made at Greenham Common in the 1980s, poster designs for the anti-nuclear movement, works relating to the writings of Walter Benjamin and documentation from the 60 performances of Anniversary-an act of memory, solo, collective and multi-lingual recitations from memory of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (2008–13) which concluded with a final collaborative performance at the UN in Geneva on the day of Ross’ death.

A monograph titled Monica Ross, Ethical Actions: A Critical Fine Art Practice, edited by Susan Hiller and Suzanne Treister, with texts by Jorn Ebner, Eric Levi Jacobson, Alexandra M. Kokoli, Esther Leslie, Yve Lomax, Denise Robinson, Monica Ross, with photographic documentation by Bernard G. Mills, will be launched at the exhibition. This publication is published and available from Sternberg.

 

Monica Ross (1950–2013) was an artist who worked with video, drawing, installation, text and performance who first came to prominence as a feminist artist and organiser. Ross was co-responsible for collective initiatives such as the seminal Women’s Postal Art Event (Feministo: Representations of the Artist as Housewife, ICA, London, 1977, Kunstlerinnen International 1877–1977, Schloss Charlottenberg, Berlin, 1977) and the touring project Fenix with Kate Walker and Sue Richardson. Both projects made visible the conditions and constraints of the working class female artist with Fenix (1978–80) making studio practice public by appropriating galleries as workspaces. Fenix was included in the group exhibition Issue, curated by Lucy Lippard and Margaret Harrison at the ICA, London in 1980. Ross then co-established the Sister Seven group which operated as a national network for the distribution of poster art and performances in church halls, libraries, on the streets and at peace camps including Greenham Common.

Monica Ross curated exhibitions, published critical essays and text works and was Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at Saint Martins School of Art (now Central Saint Martins), London 1985–90, later becoming leader of the innovative Critical Fine Art Practice course from 1990–98. Ross was Guest Professor at Institut für Kunst in Kontext, Universität der Künste, Berlin 2004, and an AHRB Research Fellow in Fine Art at the University of Newcastle 2001–04. In 2008, to mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Ross performed the first of 60 recitations in her series “Anniversary – an act of memory: solo, collective and multi-lingual recitations from memory of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

In 2014 the British Library acquired the digital archive of Monica Ross into their collection. The archive documents Monica Ross’s early work from the 1970s through to “Anniversary – an act of memory” (2008–13), a performance series in 60 acts of solo, collective and multilingual recitations from memory of the entire Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

Monica Ross: A Critical Fine Art Practice is curated by Susan Hiller and Suzanne Treister and supported by the Monica Ross Action Group (MRAG): Susan Hiller, Bernard G. Mills, Alice Ross, Anne Tallentire and Suzanne Treister.

 

*Images above: (1) Monica Ross, with Gillian Allnutt, Shirley Cameron, Mary Michaels and Evelyn Silver, Sister Seven, 1981–84. Anti-nuclear performance/poetry/poster project. (2) Monica Ross, Triple Transformations: Ghost in the Spinning Mill, 1985. Performance. (3) Monica Ross, Like Gold in the Furnace, 1987. Tape-slide performance, Chisenhale Gallery, London. (4) Monica Ross with Sheffield Socialist Choir and Northern Refugee Centre, Anniversary—an act of memory, Act 38 We Are All Equal, 2011. Nelson Mandela Room, Sheffield Town Hall. Presented by Site Gallery. Photos: Bernard G. Mills.

 

Monica Ross at CHELSEA space

November 6, 2016