The Un-Heroic Act:
Representations of Rape in Contemporary Women’s Art in the U.S.

curated by Monika Fabijanska

September 4 - November 3, 2018
Anya and Andrew Shiva Gallery, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY, New York City

The Un-Heroic Act is a concentrated survey of works by a diverse roster of artists representing three generations, including Jenny Holzer, Suzanne Lacy, Ana Mendieta, Senga Nengudi, Yoko Ono, Kara Walker, and younger artists such as Andrea Bowers and Natalie Frank, which aims to fill a gap in the history of art, where the subject of rape is represented by countless historical depictions by male artists, called ‘heroic’ by Susan Brownmiller. What makes women’s works radically different is the focus not on the action or drama, but on the lasting psychological devastation of the victim: her suffering, silence, shame, and loneliness. Often strikingly beautiful, these works by women are rarely shown or their true meaning is obscured.

My research shows that rape constitutes one of central themes in women’s art, and the aim of the exhibition is to analyze its rich iconography in all mediums: drawing, painting, sculpture, installation, photography, video, film, new media, performance, and social practice.



This is a selection from the list of over 250 visual arts projects Monika Fabijanska consulted and produced or co-produced, which entailed organization, financing, and PR. In many cases she was also curator, author, or panelist. She organized most of projects listed here as Director or Deputy Director of the Polish Cultural Institute in New York (2000-2010), in collaboration with such institutions as The Museum of Modern Art, The Jewish Museum, and Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York; UC Berkeley Art Museum; Los Angeles County Museum of Art and MoCA in Los Angeles; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston; Office of the Mayor and NYC Department of Parks & Recreation; CUNY, Performa, SculptureCenter, Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), and Location One in New York; ART OMI Residency, Ghent, NY; Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito, CA; and Spaces in Cleveland.