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Artist of The Week: Coco Dolle on Her Feminist Group Show Milk and Night

Performance artist Coco Dolle has no problem causing a scene, especially during the biannual phenomenon of New York Fashion Week, when people are encouraged to look, and judge, each other unscrupulously. The overlap between fashion and art becomes incestuous during this time, with sponsored art parties, celebrity appearances and fashion-art collaborations. Dolle’s group show Milk and Night, which she co-curated and performs in, may be part of the many fashion week art openings, but this group is taking a rare approach to art during the week of enforced stereotypes. They are using the stage of NYFW to draw attention to the art of feminism.

cocodolle-portrait01Coco Dolle

Bringing together an expansive and impressive group of feminist artists from fashion, art and music circles, Milk and Night is taking over NYFW through guerrilla performances in front of Lincoln Center, discussions and talks with working feminist artists and opening Friday September 5th, a group show at Gallery Sensei featuring a performance by film maker/musician/cult actress Kembra Pfahler. Dolle, who curated along with Anne Sherwood Pundyk, Katie Cercone, and Asha Cherian, decided that the best way to highlight the range of new feminist work is to showcase it in a variety of locations and mediums, bringing together well known females artists like Jemima Kirke, Betty Tompkins, Ange from the fashion design brand ThreeAsfour, India Salvor Menuez, Lola Montes Schnabel and more.

Coco Dolle’s performance, ‘Legacy Fatale’ : Amazons warriors

We spoke to Dolle just before the madness of fashion week began (a time when feminism usually gets put on hold for the antiquated ideals of fashion) about the process behind Milk and Night, the future of feminism in art, and how to continue moving forward for all the sexes.


How was Milk and Night conceived?

Milk and Night grows out of fervent joint efforts from different artist entities. Painter Anne Sherwood Pundyk, co-editor of Girls against God (GAG), a feminist arts magazine, Katie Cercone, feminist artist of collective Go! Push pops, Asha Cherian from the women’s collective MoonChurch, myself as artist and performer, leader of female performance group “Legacy Fatale”, and Joe Latimore, director of Gallery SENSEI who enthusiastically embraced the idea for this show as I presented it to him.

Our curatorial team arose naturally, as we all were involved with multiple events this past year including: Wolf Moon Gathering at MoMA PS1, Sacred Nipples at The Last Brucennial and The Clitney Perennial at The Whitney Biennal.

You’ve gotten some really amazing female artists involved in this show from fashion to music to art. Do you think it is important to show feminism through this type of immersive art event?

Cross-disciplinary endeavors, such as our show, mirrors the multi-media flux around us. Many artists work across different practices. This can be traced to the work of early feminist artists many of whom were the first to express their ideas through video and performance. Today, artists collaborate with fashion designers, music producers curate art shows (Pharrell Williams’s Girl exhibit at Galerie Perrotin), and museums invite rock stars to perform. So yes, I think it is relevant that we talk about feminism in a contemporary setting.

Marcia Jones

As a woman in the art world, do you still feel there is a divide between the sexes?

The guerrilla performance intervention we undertook at the Whitney Biennal addressed the lack of plurality amongst the artists exhibited this year, which has always been the case for this major show; in the general fields of art women get far less exposure. Earlier this year, Vito Schnabel and the BHQF presented only female artists at The Last Brucennial. So we could interpret this as a challenge to the art world establishment. I personally think with respect to “feminism” that there is a general angst around the etymology of the word itself. The European activist group Femen has found an alternative. For me, I like Yoko Ono’s derivative “the feminization of society”. The divide lies within the way we think of our world in separate instances of consciousness.

Jemima-KirkeJemima Kirke

How would you describe “new feminism?”

We thrive for an intersectional form of feminism, cross-cultural, cross-gender, cross-generation, cross-race and trans-disciplinary. As a matter of fact, we have also curated artists that do not assert themselves as feminists. We have geographically gathered in Milk and Night our respective communities to further and explore a dialogue on our cultural dynamics. Together, we are challenging a matrix of oppression including the current ecocide – the destruction of ecosystems by corporations bulldozing the planet with legal impunity. Like Vivienne Weswood’s activism.Also, The Tate Modern released a video earlier this year, as part of their “Unlock Art” series, featuring Jemima Kirke speaking about the male dominated art world over the Centuries.

There seems to be a collective effort in bringing awareness around how the history of art and of our civilization was written. Women are actively taking charge to cope with a loss, which could be a new form of feminism, as in re-writing history.

This seems to be a very cohesive vision, blending art with fashion with social politics. Do you feel it is necessary to take art out of the traditional setting?

Traditional settings are not permanent. They are a natural formation emerging from a social construct. The idea is to join in the middle, bring the old ways and the new ways together. As we have wished in our Milk and Night vision statement “in one another we will never be lacking”.

Betty-TompkinsBetty Tompkins

What is your next undertaking?

LA? Paris? London?

What is your WILD Wish?

On a local level, a Milk and Night exhibition at MoMA PS1, in the realm of Connie Butler’s WACK! Art and the feminist revolution. On a global level, the end of cultural and sexual abuses on women, the end of criminal wars.

Katie-CerconeKatie Cercone

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Launch the gallery for a sneak peek into some of the work featured Milk and Night and be sure to check out all of the events this week:

Friday September 5th, 7-9PM: Opening event with special performance by artist Kembra Pfahler, show on view until September 21st.

Sunday September 7, 12-3PM: Outdoor performance happening at the Mercedes Benz Fashion week Pavillion

Friday September 12, 6-8PM: Performance event with Leah Aron and Mariko Passion

Friday September 19, 6-8PM: Represent, an intergenerational feminist dialogue, in the tradition of the NY Feminist Art Institute (NYFAI)

text by: Kate Messinger

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