We are at a time when women are speaking out loud and clear that sexual violence must end. By breaking the silence on all the forms of sexual violence and harassment, a major transition is taking place. How effective social media can change real life violence against women and children is yet to be determined. It is certainly effective, but it is not enough. A model of cooperation is necessary now more than ever. The website www.againstviolence.art represents activists performance art by Suzanne Lacy and Leslie Labowitz, on violence against women, performed from 1977-1982. It is a visual archive of all the activities including documentation, video, photos, etc. of ARIADNE: A Social Art Network, organizing women in the media, government, activists and artists to work together on public programs, performances, media events, on the subject of rape, incest, domestic violence, etc. The website was created in 2018 by Leslie Labowitz and designed by Carolina Ibarra-Mendoza to introduce the #MeToo generation to early activist work.
This website certainly contributes to the visibility of the long history of feminist activists and artists who have paved the way for change and contributed to this evolutionary moment. In 2007, Suzanne and Leslie produced an installation called “The Performing Archive” that was made up of all their paper documents from performances from 1977-82 including the ARIADNE archive. That project focused on the intergenerational aspect of diverse young women going through the archives while they were interviewed on video. Likewise, this website is meant to activate this generation while also serving as research material for academics and historians. The fact that this website is free and accessible opens it to distribution channels never before possible, including its use as curriculum material for College and University Art and Media Arts Departments, Gender Studies, and other related fields.
Leslie Labowitz Starus is a Los Angeles artist and entrepreneur. She earned her MFA from Otis Art Institute in 1972, then moved to Düsseldorf, Germany as a Fulbright Scholar. In Düsseldorf, Labowitz-Starus attended the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf where she briefly interacted with Joseph Beuys (he was dismissed from his position the semester she arrived). She continued to live and work in Germany, teaching at a Gymnasium and the University in Bonn, Germany. Her feminist performance model was developed on the streets of Bonn. She returned to Los Angeles in 1977 and met Suzanne Lacy, who was producing the iconic “THREE WEEKS IN MAY” public performance on rape in LA. Leslie participated in TWIM and their long collaboration was initiated, producing seven major public works under ARIADNE: A Social Art Network. In 1980, Leslie began a 40-year durational performance called SPROUTIME, a multi-layered series on eco-feminism, survival, food production and personal experience as a child of a holocaust survivor. It became a real business for 30 years.
Suzanne Lacy is a pioneer in socially engaged and public performance art. Her installations, videos, and performances deal with sexual violence, rural and urban poverty, incarceration, labor and aging. Lacy’s large-scale projects span the globe, including England, Colombia, Ecuador, Spain, Ireland and the U.S. In 2019 she had a career retrospective at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and at Yerba Buena Art Center. Her work has been reviewed in Frieze Magazine, Artforum, L.A. Times, New York Times, Art in America, and The Guardian, and in numerous books and periodicals. She has exhibited at Tate Modern, The Museum of Contemporary Art LA, the Whitney Museum, the New Museum, the Bilbao Museum and Reina Sofia Museum. Also known for her writing, Lacy edited Mapping the Terrain: New Genre Public Art and is author of Leaving Art: Writings on Performance, Politics, and Publics, 1974-2007. She is a professor at the Roski School of Art and Design at the University of Southern California and a resident artist at 18th Street Arts Center.