Judy Rifka in Artforum September 1982

Article by Edit deAk

New York City, September 1, 1982


Stalling Art by Edit deAk:


Or you can take a different pass through a curio collection of pan-iconographic this-and-thats and follow the installation structure of choppy handheld pans until you decipher that the art here is populated with scores of figures holding up their hands. They are the different manifestations of the raised arm—historical, mythological, scientific. From Bruce McLean’s man holding up a tape measure through the sci-fi figures of Keith Haring, to Judy Rifka’s acrobatic females . . . and, yes, we have boxers, saints, wimpy winners, sports champs, and headhunters, we’ve even got crucifixes and Jonathan Borofsky’s colossi. Why, it’s enough to make you throw up your hands. And, ladies and gentlemen, don’t worry, we make connections. We’ve got your late-night urban white girl tangled up with the black-man myth (Elvira Bach), and in the next room we’ve got paintings by the Black Man Himself, Jean Michel Basquiat. What an insult. (His paintings should have been near Cy Twombly’s.) We’ve got women, too. More insults. In more ways than one. Women, via a double tokenism, were handpicked to represent those genres Documenta 7 seems to feel uneasy with—U.S. citizenship, video (Dara Birnbaum), performance (Joan Jonas), sociopolitics (Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, and Martha Rosler), photography (self-image propagation from Katharina Sieverding, the antinuke, super-tech amazon, to Cindy Sherman’s homespun studio-still glamour), all installed with fearful symmetry which is hideously echoed in the case of the double entendre—the twins, Barbara and Gabriele Schmidt-Heins, who have of all things a stylistically identical double stall. Quintuple tokenism is achieved by exhibiting Klaudia Schifferle, who is 1) female 2) young 3) Swiss 4) punk and 5) painter, and who profited from Documenta 7’s erroneous conviction that there is such a thing as “punk painting.” If you think to call this passage a tour de farce is a typo, well, if it is, it’s a $3-million typo.


Read the full article over at Artforum.



Katherina Zeifang


+49 171 1778796

September 1, 1982