Exploring nearly five decades of the artist’s work, from her earliest performances, objects, and photographs in the 1970s to her latest immersive video installations.
Manchester Art Gallery
Friday 27 March 2020–Sunday 23 August 2020
Suzanne Lacy is an American artist who works across visual art, film, performance, installation, public practice and writing. Her work is centred around conversations with people about social themes and urban issues. She has addressed issues such as gender, labour, class, violence and race, all through a feminist lens.
Suzanne Lacy: We Are Here explores nearly five decades of the artist’s work, from her earliest performances, objects, and photographs in the 1970s to her latest immersive video installations. It includes and updates Lacy’s key collaborative projects from the 1990s, including an in-depth revisiting of The Oakland Projects (1991–2001), a series on youth representation, media education, and policy.
On tour from SF MOMA, San Francisco and presented here and at the Whitworth, Suzanne Lacy: We Are Here is the only UK showing for this important retrospective of Lacy’s work.
Manchester Art Gallery will be focusing on a grouping of Lacy’s work relating to ageing. Lacy has made a number of works which investigate the visibility, or invisibility of older women and their potential as leaders and activists. Two key works will be exhibited: The Crystal Quilt 1985-7 which brought together 430 women over 60 years old on Mother’s Day in Minneapolis, 1987; and Whisper, the Waves, the Wind 1983-4 in which 154 older women, dressed in white, convened on a beach in La Jolla, California to discuss their lives, relationships, hopes and fears.
Additionally the Gallery will be showing photographs and footage from Silver Action, originally performed at Tate Modern in 2013. The artwork bought together hundreds of older women to celebrate their role in activism and protest movements, from the Greenham Common Peace Camp to the Miss World demonstrations. They shared their stories in a series of workshops, culminating in a day-long public performance.
Inspired by Silver Action, Manchester Art Gallery asked the question “what needs to be made visible for older women in Manchester?”. One of the most prominent issues relates to work and power for women aged over 50, with a focus on the implications of the rise in the pension age for women to 66. Manchester also has one of the highest rates of unemployment and increased health inequalities for this age group. After a series of workshops with women linked to ten community partners, women over 50 will be interviewed in the Gallery and their words will be transcribed and displayed on the wall. The aim is for women who often haven’t had a voice, to be able to speak about their experiences and be heard in a public forum, as well as impacting wider research and policy making. Quotes from the participants will become part of another of Lacy’s works, Between the Door and the Street 2013 which will be remade for Manchester and the text will be printed onto a yellow background on the Gallery’s steps to raise awareness of the implications and issues around work, gender, age and health.
Suzanne Lacy Whisper, the Waves, the Wind, 1983-4
Uncertain Futures is a partnership between women and agencies in Manchester with support from Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing and Work and Skills MCC. The title is taken from a research consortium ‘Uncertain futures: Managing late-career transitions and extended working life’, led by Professor Sarah Vickerstaff.