The Process

In Which An Artist Discusses Making A Particular Work

Suzanne Lacy, Three Weeks in January

In the 1970s, artist Suzanne Lacy began fusing the abstract, cerebral nature of conceptual art with the socially conscious aims of feminist art, creating large-scale public works intended to revitalize the theater of public life. She once staged a massive basketball game between the youth of Oakland and the Oakland police department, with the first half played according to NBA regulations and the second half played according to street rules: no blood? No foul. For the halftime show, the teens took questions from the media about their opinions on the police. In the late ’80s, Lacy spent three years creating a living tableau encompassing 430 elderly women sitting around tables and chatting about what it feels like to be a woman aging—and becoming increasingly invisible. When viewed from above, the tables formed an elaborate pattern of colorful geometric shapes, which shifted into a new pattern whenever the women shifted positions. In our interview, I asked her about her 2012 piece Three Weeks in January, which, like the rest of her work over the past forty years, bridges the gap between architecture and psychology, the built environment and imaginative space.

—Amy Klein

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THE BELIEVER: Let’s go back to the issue of mapping. What is the value of redrawing the map of LA at a time when art and culture seem more and more detached from physical place?

SUZANNE LACY: A woman is raped. Her body is assaulted. That takes place in a space. I understand and sympathize with so many other forms of violence—verbal violence, the violence of poverty, ecological violence—and I think they’re all connected. But for me, there’s a distinct and real difference between violence that occurs to a body—particularly premeditated, body-to-body violence. There’s something about that that is so intimate, visceral, and outrageous to me. It’s not a bomb that goes off and kills five hundred people. It’s what one human being, existing in their body, turns and does to another human being.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

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Amy Klein is a writer and musician living in Brooklyn. For more of her work, go to amyrebeccaklein.tumblr.com.

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