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Martha Wilson, 2014
Photo by Christopher Knowles

Martha Wilson, 2014
Photo by Christopher Knowles

Martha Wilson (b. 1947) is a pioneering feminist artist and gallery director, who over the past five decades created innovative photographic and video works that explore her female subjectivity through role-playing, costume transformations, and “invasions” of other people’s personae. She began making these videos and photo/text works in the early 1970s while in Halifax in Nova Scotia, and further developed her performative and video-based practice after moving in 1974 to New York City, embarking on a long career that would see her gain attention across the U.S. for her provocative appearances as political personae. In 1976 she founded, and as Founding Director Emerita, continues to help direct Franklin Furnace, an artist-run space that champions the exploration, promotion and preservation of artists’ books, installation art, video, online and performance art, further challenging institutional norms, the roles artists play within society, and expectations about what constitutes acceptable art mediums. For four decades, Wilson has performed nationally and internationally in the guises of Alexander Haig, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, and Tipper Gore, among others. In the fall of 2021, the Centre Pompidou in Paris presented Martha Wilson in Halifax, 1972-1974, the first institutional presentation of Wilson’s groundbreaking early installation Halifax Collection.

MARTHA WILSON

b. 1947, Philadelphia, PA
Lives and works in Brooklyn, NY

EDUCATION 

2013    
Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts, NSCAD University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

1972    
Fellowship at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Completed one year toward Ph.D. degree, English Literature

1971    
M.A. English Literature, Dalhousie University, Canada

1969    
B.A. Cum Laude, Wilmington College, Wilmington, OH

SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2021    
Martha Wilson: The Political and Performance Art Collection, mfc-michèle didier, Paris, France
Martha Wilson in Halifax 1972-1974, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France

2019    
I Have Become My Own Worst Fear, Galerie Crone, Vienna, Austria
Halifax Collection, Art Basel Unlimited, Basel, Switzerland

2018    
Martha Wilson: Staging the Journals, michèle didier, Paris, France
The Two Halves of Martha Wilson’s Brain, curated by Felicitas Thun-Hohenstein, Kunstraum Niederosterreich, Vienna, Austria

2016    
Martha Wilson and Franklin Furnace, Katzen Center of American University Museum, Washington D.C.

2015    
Mona/Marcel/Marge, P·P·O·W, New York, NY
Martha Wilson: Downton, curated by Peter Dykhuis, Fales Library & Special Collections, New York University, New York, NY; Pratt Manhattan Gallery, New York, NY       

2013    
Martha Wilson: Staging the Self, Pitzer Art Galleries, Pitzer College, Claremont, CA; Institute of Visual Arts, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI; Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City, UT, curator Peter Dykhuis. Traveled under the auspices of Independent Curators International

2012    
Martha Wilson: Staging the Self, Arcadia University Art Gallery, Glenside, PA

2011    
I have become my own worst fear, P·P·O·W, New York, NY
Martha Wilson: Staging the Self, Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

2009    
Martha Wilson: Staging the Self, Dalhousie University Art Gallery, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

2008    
Martha Wilson: Photo/Text Works, 1971-74, Mitchell Algus Gallery, New York, NY

SELECT GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2022
Agency: Feminist Art and Power, Museum of Sonoma County, Santa Rosa, CA
Feminist Avant Garde from the Verbund Collection, Museum of Contemporary Art Vojvodina, Novi Sad, Serbia; Les Rencontres de la Photographie d’Arles, Arles, France (travelling)

2021    
Martha Wilson: The Political and Performance Art Collection, mfc-michèle didier, Paris, France
Journaic/Wilson/Levine/Sherman/Prince/Lawler, Bourse de Commerce Pinault Collection, Paris, France
Halifax Collection Films, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France
Artist in the House, Watch Out!, Eastern Connecticut State University, Willimantic, CT
Heroine-ity: Laura Elkins, Karen Finley, Katya Grohkovsky, Martha Wilson, Eastern Connecticut State University, Willimantic, CT
Agency: Feminist Art and Power, Museum of Sonoma County, Santa Rosa, CA

2020    
Rage, Resist, Rise!, Museum of Sonoma County, Santa Rosa, CA
Future Potential: Jacqueline Martins, Sao Paolo, Anglim Gilbert, San Francisco, CA
Visibilities: Intrepid Women of Artpace, Artpace, San Antonio, TX

2019    
Hate Speech, Aggression, and Intimacy, Halle fur Kunts + Medien, Graz, Austria
MsDemeaners, Denise Bibro Gallery, New York, NY
Familiar Machines, Backlit, Nottingham, United Kingdom
Youth Before Age, Coreana Museum of Art, Seoul, South Korea
Intimacy, Espacio ArtexArte- Fundacion Alfonso y Luz Castillo, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Ree Morton: The Planet That Heals May Also Poison, Tang Teaching Museum, Saratoga, NY
Overlap: Life Tapestries, Pen and Brush, New York, NY

2018    
Woman. The Feminist Avant-Garden from the 1970s: Works from the Sammlung Verbund, Stavanger Art Museum, Stavanger, Norway
My Silences Had Not Protected Me, Fort Gansevoort, New York, NY
As Far as the Heart Can See, EFA Project Space, New York, NY
DRAG: Genderqueer and Body Politic, Hayward Gallery, London, United Kingdom
Overlap: Life of Tapestries, Pennsylvania State University, HUB-Robeson Gallery, University Park, PA

2017    
Human Interest: Portraits from the Whitney’s Collection, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
Self-Reimagined, New Jersey City University, Center for the Arts, Jersey City, NJ
Visual Notes for an Upside-Down World, curated by Jack McGrath, P·P·O·W, New York, NY
Feedback, curated by Leo Fitzpatrick, Marlborough Contemporary, New York, NY
Delirious: Arts at the Limits of Reason, 1950-1980, Met Breuer, New York, NY
Woman. The Feminist Avant-Garde from the 1970s: Works from the Sammlung Verbund, Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie, Karlsruhe; The Brno House of Arts, Brno, Czech Republic

2016    
Invisible Adversaries, Hessel Museum of Art at Bard College, Annandale-On-Hudson, NY
Enacting the Text: Performing with Words, Center for Book Arts, New York, NY
Overlap: Life Tapestries, A.I.R. Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
Of the People, Smack Mellon, Brooklyn, NY
SEVEN-ish, Seriously Funny, Pierogi, New York, NY
BLAGO BUNG X, Cabaret Voltaire, Zurich, Switzerland
Concept, Performance, Documentation, Language, Mitchell Algus Gallery, New York, NY
Between the Ticks of the Watch, Renaissance Society, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Priere de Toucher (The Touch of Art), Museum Tinguely, Basel, Switzerland
Autobiography, Index, Stockholm, Sweden
Woman. The Feminist Avant-Garde from the 1970s: Works from the Sammlung Verbund, Photographer’s Gallery, London, United Kingdom; Museum of Modern Art, Vienna, Austria

2015    
Archive Bound, The Center for Book Arts, New York, NY
PLAY, Microscope Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
40: The Anniversary Exhibition, Hal Bromm Gallery, New York, NY
The Proletariat of the Sexes: Feminist Positions in the 1970’s, Lenbachhaus, Munich, Germany
The Artist as Provocateur: Pioneering Performance at Pratt Institute, The Rubell & Norman Schafler Gallery, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY
The Future is Here Again: Visual Language, curated by Holly Crawford and Nico Vassilakis, AC Institute, New York, NY

2014    
Horse is in the Cart, George Adams Gallery, New York, NY
SELF-TIMER STORIES, Austrian Cultural Forum New York, New York, NY
Becoming Male, Freedman Gallery, Albright College, Reading, PA
Woman. The Feminist Avant-Garde from the 1970s: Works from the Sammlung Verbund, Summer of Photography Edition 2014, BOZAR Expo, Center for Fine Arts, Brussels, Belgium
BRIC Biennial, BRIC Arts I Media House, Brooklyn, NY

2013    
The Personal is Political: Martha Wilson and MKE, Portrait Society Gallery, Milwaukee, WI
SKIN TRADE, P·P·O·W, New York, NY
Striking Resemblance: The Changing Art of Portraiture, Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Femfolio, Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, DE
Sequences in Real Time Art Festival, Reykjavik, Iceland
Good Girls Memory Desire Power, National Museum of Contemporary Art (MNAC), Bucharest, Romania

2012    
Doing what you want: Marie-Louise Ekman accompanied by Sister Corita Kent, Mladen Stilinovic and Martha Wilson, Tensta konsthall, Stockholm, Sweden. Traveled to Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Sandvika, Norway
Martha Wilson, Arcadia University Art Gallery, Glenside, PA
Materializing Six Years: Lucy R. Lippard and the Emergence of Conceptual Art, Brooklyn Museum, New York, NY
Laughter (Riso), Electricity Museum, Lisbon, Portugal
Moving Image Contemporary Video Art Fair, New York, NY
Project Inc., Revisted, Churner and Churner, New York, NY
Stand still like the hummingbird, curated by Bellatrix Hubert, David Zwirner, New York, NY
You, Me, We, She, Fleisher/Ollman, New York, NY
When I’m Sixty Four, Wignall Museum of Contemporary Art, Chaffey College, Rancho Cucamonga, CA

2010    
Traffic: Conceptual Art in Canada 1965-1980, Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, Toronto, Canada
DONNA: AVANGUARDIA FEMMINISTA NEGLI ANNI ’70 dalla Sammlung Verbund di Vienna, curated by Gabriele Schor, Galleria nazionale d’arte moderna, Rome, Italy
The Man I Wish I Was, curated by Kharis Kennedy, A.I.R. Gallery, New York, NY

2009    
40 Years, 40 Projects, curated by Matthew Higgs, White Columns, New York, NY
re.act.feminism, curated by Bettina Knaup and Beatrice K. Stammer, in partnership with the Akademie der Kunste, Berlin, Germany

2008    
Looking Back: The White Columns Annual, selected by Jay Sanders, New York, NY

2007    
WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution, organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA, curated by Connie Butler. Exhibition tour: National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.; P.S. 1 Museum, Queens, NY; Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, B.C., Canada

2006    
The Downtown Show, Grey Art Gallery, New York University, New York, NY

2005    
How American Women Artists Invented Post-Modernism, Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ   

2002    
Personal & Political, Guild Hall Museum, East Hampton, NY
Gloria: Another Look at Feminist Art in the 1970s, White Columns, New York, NY

1994    
Tipper Gore’s Advice for the 90s, window installation at Printed Matter, New York, NY

1973    
C. 7,500,: An Exhibition Organized by Lucy R. Lippard, Traveled to Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT;  Moore College of Art, Philadelphia, PA; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA. May 1973 - February 1974.

SELECT PERMANENT COLLECTIONS

Banco Espirito Santo, Lisbon, Portugal
Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY
Hessel Museum of Art, Bard College, Purchase, NY
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Pinault Collection, Paris, France
Potsdam Museum, Potsdam, Germany
Sammlung Verbund, Vienna, Austria
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
Smith College, Northampton, MA
Vehbi Koç Foundation Contemporary Art Collection, Beyoğlu, Istanbul
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY

SELECT PERFORMANCES

2019    
Donald Trump, Live Action 14, Gothenburg, Sweden
Live Action, Curated by Jonas Stampe, Gothenburg, Sweden

2018    
Donald Trump, HUB-Robeson Gallery, Penn State University, University Park, PA

2017    
Donald Trump, St. Mark’s Poetry Project, New York, NY

2016    
Donald Trump, Smack Melon, Brooklyn, NY

2014    
Self Portrait (1973) performance at Austrian Cultural Forum New York, New York, NY

2013    
Barbara Bush on Abuse, LA><ART by Martha Wilson, Pitzer College Art Galleries, Los Angeles, CA

1992    
Barbara Bush On Abuse, performance at Cooper Union, New York, NY

1985    
Just Say No to Arms Control, performance as Nancy Reagan, Brother Ron’s Gospel Hour, New York, NY

1980    
DISBAND at Spazio Zero, Rome, Italy

1976    
Queen, performance at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY

1975    
De-Formation, performance in Autogeography, Downtown Whitney, New York, NY

1973    
Transformance: Claudia, collaborative performance with Jacki Apple at The Plaza Hotel, New York, NY

SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY

2021    
Gomez, Edward M. “Martha Wilson’s Early Years: The Journals Have Been Published.”
Journals by Martha Wilson, mfc-michèle didier, 2021.

2020    
Morello, Marco, “Per Piecere,” Vogue Italia, November 2020. pp. 148.

2019    
The Two Halves of Martha Wilson's Brain, Verlag für moderne Kunst

2018    
Art of Feminism: Images that Shaped the Fight for Equality, 1857-2017, Chronicle Books.

2017    
Die Kraft des Alters: Aging Pride, Belvedere Museum Vienna, Illus. pp 26, 30, 31.

2014    
Meagher, Michelle. "Against the Invisibility of Old Age: Cindy Sherman, Suzy Lake, and Martha Wilson," Feminist Studies: Volume 40, Number 1, 2014. pp 101 -143.
Dertnig, Carola and Felicitas Thun-Hohenstein, eds. "Semiotics of Appearance:  Martha Wilson in Conversation with Dietmar Schwarzler," Performing the Sentence:  Research and Teaching in Performative Fine Arts. (Vienna: Sternberg Press and Academy of Fine Arts, 2014.) pp 148-162.

2013    
re.act.feminism catalogue, Verlag fuer Moderne Kunst Nuernberg and Live Art Development Agency, London.
Rosenthal, Stephania. Ana Mendieta: Traces. Catalog for exhibition of the same name at Hayward Gallery, London. Hayward Publishing: London 2013.

2012    
Cahier Philosiphiques: Marcel Duchamp, Works Featured Seeing Differently: History and Theory of Identification, Catalog
When I’m Sixty Four, Wignall Museum Catalog
Butler, Cornelia. From Conceptualism to Feminism: Lucy Lippard’s Numbers Shows 1969-74. Koenig Books: London, 2012.
Colucci, Emily. “The Tipping Point Between Laughter and Crying: an Interview with Martha Wilson.´blog.art21.org, June 2012.
Jones, Amelia. Seeing Differently: A history and theory of identification and the visual arts. London & New York: Routeledge.

2011    
Bakst, Lauren, “Martha Wilson: The Liminal Trickster,” Bomblog, October 5, http://bombsite.com/issues/1000/articles/6130
Anderson-Spivy, Alexandra, “The Legs Are the Last to Go,” Artnet.
Colucci, Emily, “Is It Punk To Grow Old Ungracefully?” Hyperallergic, September 19. http://hyperallergic.com/35613/martha-wilson-ppow/
Salisbury, Britany, “New York Exhibition Picks: Martha Wilson,” ArtForum.
Denson, G. Roger, “’Old,’ ‘Crazy’ and ‘Hysterical.’ Is That All There Is?” Huffington Post, October 5. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/g-roger-denson/women-old-crazy-and-hyste_b_995484.html
Gomez, Edward, “Aging gracefully, with political consciousness, “beauty” and sass”, September 10. http://www.edwardmgomez.com/
Dykhuis, Peter and Jayne Wark. “Martha Wilson: Staging the Self/30 Projects from 30 Years of Franklin Furnace Archive, Inc.” Halifax, N.S., Canada: Dalhousie University Art Gallery.
Clausen, Barbara. “Portrait Martha Wilson,” SPIKE. Vienna, Austria: SPIKE Art Quarterly, Issue 28, Summer.

2010    
Till-Landry, Kaitlin. “Kaitlin Till-Landry interviews Martha Wilson,” C: International Contemporary Art. Toronto, Canada.

2007    
Butler, Cornelia and Lisa Gabrielle Mark, eds.  WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution. Los Angeles and Boston:  Museum of Contemporary Art and The MIT Press.

2006    
Wark, Jayne, “Radical Gestures: Feminism and Performance Art in North America,” Montreal & Kingston, London, Ithaca: McGill--Queen’s University Press.

2001    
Wark, Jayne, “Martha Wilson:  Not Taking It at Face Value,” Camera Obscura: Feminism, Culture and Media Studies. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press.
Reckitt, Helena and Peggy Phelan.  Art and Feminism: Themes and Movements.  London: Phaidon Press.

1996    
Stiles, Kristine and Peter Selz, eds. Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art: A Sourcebook of Artists’ Writing,s Berkeley: University of California Press.
Jones, Amelia, editor. Sexual Politics: Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party in Feminist Art History, Los Angeles: University of California Press.

1995    
Lippard, Lucy R. The Pink Glass Swan: Selected Feminist Essays on Art, New York: The New Press.

1989    
Rosen, Randy, and Catherine C. Brawer.  Making Their Mark: Women Artists Move into the Mainstream, 1970-1985, New York: Abbeville Press.

1979    
Goldberg, RoseLee. Performance: Live Art, 1909 to the Present, New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.

SELECT LECTURES

2019    
Performance is Public, Brooklyn Public Library, Central Library, Brooklyn NY

2014    
Performance Art: The Artist as Provocateur, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY

2011    
Embodiment, Parsons School of Design, New York, NY         
Art & Politics: The Art Space Movement in New York, New York University, New York, NY

2010    
Embodiment, Parsons School of Design, New York, NY

2009    
Art & Politics: The Art Space Movement in New York, New York, NY

2002    
Live Art on the Internet, with Toni Sant, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University, New York, NY

2000    
Going Virtual, with Toni Sant, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University, New York, NY
The Arts in New York City, Baruch College, New York, NY

1999    
The Arts in New York City, Baruch College, New York, NY

1995    
Emerging Performance Artists, The New School for Social Research, New York, NY

1994    
Emerging Performance Artists, The New School for Social Research, New York, NY

1993    
Emerging Performance Artists, The New School for Social Research, New York, NY

1979    
Women in the Arts, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

1978    
Literary Parallels to Modern Art, School of Visual Arts, New York, NY

1976    
Adjunct Lecturer in 20th century Art, Brooklyn College’s New School of Liberal Arts, Brooklyn, NY

1975    
Adjunct Lecturer in 20th century Art, Brooklyn College’s New School of Liberal Arts, Brooklyn, NY

1974    
Adjunct Lecturer, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

1973    
Adjunct Lecturer, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

EDITORIAL, CURATORIAL, AND VOLUNTEER ACTIVITIES

2012    
Curator, Brooklyn Bred, three evenings of performance art by Dread Scott, Jennifer Miller and Coco Fusco, 30th Next Wave Festival, BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music)

2011    
Editor, Martha Wilson Sourcebook: 40 Years of Reconsidering Performance, Feminism, Alternative Space, New York: Independent Curators International, 2011. In 2012, Specific Object named the Martha Wilson Sourcebook its 2011 Publication of the Year

2010    
Guest Curator, At Her Age, A.I.R Gallery, New York, NY

2006    
Guest Editor, Leonardo, Live Art and Science on the Internet

2005    
What Franklin Furnace Learned from Presenting and Producing Live Art on the Internet, 1996 to Now Leonardo, Volume 38 #3
Guest Editor, Leonardo, Live Art and Science on the Internet

2004    
Guest Editor, Leonardo, Live Art and Science on the Internet
Treasurer, Performance Studies International

2003    
Treasurer, Performance Studies International

2002    
Treasurer, Performance Studies International

1997    
Guest Editor, Art Journal, Winter, Vol. 56, No. 4, Performance Art

1996    
Member of the Editorial Board, Art Journal (1991-1996)

1975    
Assistant to the Managing Editor, Harry N. Abrams, Inc. artbook publishers (1974-1975)

Selected Works

Selected Works Thumbnails
Martha Wilson Makeover: Melania, 2017

Martha Wilson
Makeover: Melania, 2017
single-channel video, edited by Nancy Burson
TRT 1:00

Martha Wilson Political Evolution (Installation Version), 2017

Martha Wilson
Political Evolution (Installation Version), 2017
six pigment prints
each: 14 x 11 ins.
35.6 x 27.9 cm

Martha Wilson Thump, 2016

Martha Wilson
Thump, 2016
color photograph
38 x 32 ins.
96.5 x 81.3 cm

Martha Wilson I have become my own worst fear/Deformation, 2009/1974

Martha Wilson
I have become my own worst fear/Deformation, 2009/1974
photographic print on canvas/video transferred to DVD
87 x 44 ins.
220.98 x 111.76 cm

Martha Wilson I Make Up the Image of My Perfection/I Make Up the Image of My Deformity, 1974/2008

Martha Wilson
I Make Up the Image of My Perfection/I Make Up the Image of My Deformity, 1974/2008
color photographs, text
19 x 25 ins.
48.26 x 63.5 cm

Martha Wilson Posturing: Male Impersonator (Butch), 1973

Martha Wilson
Posturing: Male Impersonator (Butch), 1973
color photograph and text
19 3/4 x 14 ins.
50.17 x 35.56 cm

Martha Wilson Makeover: Melania, 2017

Martha Wilson
Makeover: Melania, 2017
single-channel video, edited by Nancy Burson
TRT 1:00

Martha Wilson Political Evolution (Installation Version), 2017

Martha Wilson
Political Evolution (Installation Version), 2017
six pigment prints
each: 14 x 11 ins.
35.6 x 27.9 cm

Martha Wilson Thump, 2016

Martha Wilson
Thump, 2016
color photograph
38 x 32 ins.
96.5 x 81.3 cm

Martha Wilson I have become my own worst fear/Deformation, 2009/1974

Martha Wilson
I have become my own worst fear/Deformation, 2009/1974
photographic print on canvas/video transferred to DVD
87 x 44 ins.
220.98 x 111.76 cm

Martha Wilson I Make Up the Image of My Perfection/I Make Up the Image of My Deformity, 1974/2008

Martha Wilson
I Make Up the Image of My Perfection/I Make Up the Image of My Deformity, 1974/2008
color photographs, text
19 x 25 ins.
48.26 x 63.5 cm

Martha Wilson Posturing: Male Impersonator (Butch), 1973

Martha Wilson
Posturing: Male Impersonator (Butch), 1973
color photograph and text
19 3/4 x 14 ins.
50.17 x 35.56 cm