The Absent Referent is a powerful art exhibition that took place in Los Angeles. 10 internationally recognized ecofeminist artists exhibited art pieces at the famed TAG Gallery with themes that echo the books “The Sexual Politics of Meat” and “The Pornography of Meat” by American author and activist Carol J. Adams.
UnchainedTV spoke with 3 of the artists: Jane O’Hara (https://janeoharaprojects.org) Karen Fiorito (https://www.karenfiorito.me/) and Patricia Denys (https://patriciadenys.com/).
The ‘absent referent’ is defined as that which separates the animal from what is on our plates, on our backs and on our shoes. The function of the absent referent is to keep our ‘meat’ and 'leather' and 'fur garments' separated from any idea that she or he was once an animal, to keep someTHING from being seen as having been someONE. Adams explains how women are also made to be absent referents in our culture, and how the oppressions of misogyny, white supremacy, and speciesism or human supremacy are interconnected.
The exhibit was curated by Karen Fiorito, an activist, artist, and curator residing in Southern California. Her artwork has been exhibited internationally and featured in major publications such as Art in America, Hyperallergic, Art Forum and ArtNews and featured in such books as American Women Artists in Wartime, Paper Politics: Socially Engaged Printmaking Today and The Design of Dissent. Fiorito has received grants from Change, Inc., the Puffin Foundation, the Pollination Project, A Well Fed World and LUSH Cosmetics for her public art projects. She is noted for her controversial ‘Trumpocalypse’ billboard in downtown Phoenix (2017) which gained international media attention. She has curated many art exhibitions, including Evolution/Revolution: The Interconnectedness of All Beings (2011), and Indivisible: United We Stand, Divided We Fall (2020). Her work is in the permanent collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the U.S. Forest Service, the Center for the Study of Political Graphics and Self Help Graphics in Los Angeles. She holds a M.F.A. from Arizona State University and a B.F.A. form the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and is the President of the Los Angeles Printmaking Society.
Curatorial Statement: “I created this exhibition as a message to educate and agitate the art world, as much of my political and activist work is meant to do, and also to celebrate the work of these accomplished women artists/activists. These artists draw connections between all of the 'isms' - speciesism, racism, ableism, sexism, heterosexism, classism and ageism - with their art. Traditionally the work of vegan artists, especially women, is not taken seriously in the contemporary art world or academia. My hope as a curator, activist, and artist is to change people’s perceptions about this type of work and to elevate ecofeminist art to the next level.”
The exhibit included art in all mediums from interdisciplinary international artists including Karen Fiorito, Michelle Waters, Jane Lewis, Jane O’Hara, Helen Barker, Patricia Denys, Melanie Oliva, Kathryn Eddy, L.A. Watson, and Chantal Poulin Durocher.
For additional information, artists bios or images, contact: Karen Fiorito [email protected]