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  • Barbara Penn (United States, 1952 – )

    992: The Dust Behind

    1992
    Canvas, wood, paint, plaster, wire, child’s shirt frame, decoy, sleve press, tennis press, stereoscope, map, photograph “Secret Society” and found objects
    120 x 96 x 96 in.
    1998.068.ab


    Interested in the biographical histories and works of poets and writers, artist Barbara Penn links literature with art in a distinctively elegant manner. “The Dust behind” is titled after the following poem by Emily Dickinson –

    The Dust behind the strove to join
    Unto the Disk before –
    But Sequence ravelled out of Sound
    Like Balls upon a floor –

    The work considers the secondary or second-class role designated to women throughout recorded history. The long vertical panels are cloaked with bound pages; the pages of dots are a metaphor for the omitted histories of women in both past and present culture. The floor configuration and its objects imply the gender boundaries society maintains. Central in the piece is an anonymous photograph found on a postcard. The viewer is asked to carefully step up and view the photograph through a pair of old 3D lenses which causes some distortion of the pictured group of women participating in a private initiation, rite, or ritual. The photograph is placed within a child’s shirt form (once used for domestic laundering). The installation speaks to the idea that women are often misrepresented and separated from society via domestic expected “norms.” In order to gather strength, women have had to unite for support and ritualize themselves collectively.
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    992: The Dust Behind, 1992
    Barbara Penn
    Canvas, wood, paint, plaster, wire, child’s shirt frame, decoy, sleve press, tennis press, stereoscope, map, photograph “Secret Society” and found objects
    120 x 96 x 96 in.
    Gift of the artist 1998.068.ab

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