Blackout began as the modified photocopied “Table of Contents” pages from several poetry anthologies and the covers of “Phaidon’s Theme’s and Movements.” I then blacked over the names of all male authors/ artists/ editors, leaving visible the names of all female authors/ artists/ editors. Its original incarnation was displayed at Innisfree Poetry Bookstore and Café. Blackout has since grown to include the “Table of Contents” pages from art and poetry collections spanning from 1960 to the present. Most recently I’ve turned blackout toward three art periodicals from June 2015: Artforum, Art News, and Art in America. The present expression being the most comprehensive and engaging.
Blackout makes explicit the predominance of the male voice/ work/ vision in the public sphere. This is true of the canon as well as the radical or avant-garde. This predisposition is not exclusive to writing and art: open any collection of essays and compare contributors, review the names of the authors on required reading lists or syllabi, examine the members of the Senate, House of Representatives, or any governing body, count the number of female presidents. This exercise makes explicit the public bias toward the male.
Blackout is not intended to diminish the cultural contributions of men, for many of the names blacked-out are heroes. Rather, Blackout acts as a frame. It is designed to provoke questions and evoke insight. What is missing—culturally, historically, presently—due to the lack of women’s voices? How would our culture and the world be different if women and men were equally represented publicly?