Martha Wilson

Martha Wilson is a feminist conceptual artist who uses her own body to explore gender constructions in performances, photography, and video. Some of Wilson's earliest artwork poked fun at the highbrow, ostensibly sexless vernacular of conceptual art, as in Breast Forms Permutated (1972), which borrowed its title and its grid-like format from Conceptual art, but instead cataloged different sizes and shapes of female breasts. "I've always mixed humor with politics and the analysis or critique of social norms, values and trends," Wilson says. In some of her most comedic and well-known performances, she impersonates political wives like Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, and Tipper Gore. Wilson continues to probe conventions of beauty in her photographic self-portraits, particularly the expectation that women age gracefully. She is the founder the all-female art punk band, Disband, and of Franklin Furnace Archive, a pioneering alternative space devoted to preserving performance art and artist's books that now operates as a "virtual institution" for web-based projects. A touring retrospective of Wilson's work as an artist, curator, and performer was organized by the Dalhousie Art Gallery in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 2009 in conjunction with Independent Curators International.