Alien She
Riot Grrrls at the Orange County Museum of Art

“Rebel girl, you are the queen of my world,” goes a song by the band Bikini Kill. “When she talks, I hear the revolutions.” In the early 1990s, Rebel Girl became a hymn for young musicians who were starting their own revolution. As Riot Grrrls, they secured a position in the male-dominated music business. Wearing short floral dresses, smeared make-up, and Doc Martens boots, they combined punk rock attitudes with feminist activism. Now the exhibition Alien She at the Orange Country Museum of Art (OCMA) is documenting the Riot Grrrls influence on American art. Deutsche Bank has long been a partner of the museum in Newport Beach, California. The bank sponsored the California Biennial and the first edition of the follow-up project, the California-Pacific Triennial, which presents current art production on both sides of the Pacific.

Numerous women in the art scene have been inspired by the self-empowerment strategies of the Riot Grrrls – DIY, communal work, and alternative forms of production and distribution. The OCMA is showcasing seven artists who are particularly important for this movement. The most prominent example is Miranda July. As a teenager, she wrote for fanzines and performed at underground clubs. In 1994, she started a video chain letter with Joanie 4 Jackie. She “imagined [the project] would be the start of a revolution of girls and women making movies and sharing them with each other.” Self-assured July has not limited herself to this genre in her later artistic work. She is both a performance artist and a musician, has made several records, feature films, an app, and recently published her first novel. Faythe Levine’s films, photographic works, and books focus on alternative modes of production and living. Her documentary Handmade Nation: The Rise of DIY, Art, Craft, and Design makes it clear why arts and crafts and do it yourself are experiencing a renaissance at this particular point in time. With her knitted works, L.J. Roberts shows how political textile art can be, while Allyson Mitchell conjures up a “queer utopian dream world” in her videos and sculptures. In addition, hundreds of posters, fanzines, T-shirts, and records at the OCMA conjure up the spirit of optimism of Riot Grrrls, a spirit that lives on to this day.

Alien She
2/15/2015 – 5/24/2015
Orange County Museum of Art
Newport Beach, California