An artist and writer, Carmen Winant’s work investigates the representation of gender. In her collage works, she aggregates depictions of women through a thematic lens, such as labor or pain, to consider what pictures tell us, and what they withhold of our internal lives. An installation created for VOLTA, What Would You Do if You Weren’t Afraid? (Women in the News Before November 8, 2016), comprises snippets of print articles that were published in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. Winant has treated the pages — which will age and degrade over time — with graphite dust. Viewed from certain angles, the texts appear as monochromatic black squares, rejecting legibility; from other viewpoints, they are easily read. New collage works, all titled Anita Told the Truth, gather images of Anita Hill’s testimony during U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s 1991 confirmation hearing. Hill stated that Thomas, her former boss at the Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, subjected her to repeated sexual harassment. Following the hearing, many racist and sexist attempts were made to publicly discredit Hill (Thomas was confirmed several weeks later). We are meant to interpret how these images — published immediately after the hearing — aided or defied those attempts.
— Wendy Vogel
Carmen Winant's work pulls apart women's bodies. Using found images—sometimes thousands of them—Winant re-constitutes their meaning through aggregation and arrangement. Her work prompts: how do we understand women's work, desire, anxiety, alienation, through the world of pictures? What does pleasure look like? How about disgrace? What might we siphon about the history of feminism itself? Narratives clash and contradict; pictures fail us more often than not.
For her presentation at VOLTA, Winant will return to the 1991 Anita Hill testimony, re-examining the photographic documentation taken on that day.