For the past month I’ve been on a mission to digitally document a woman’s performance/prankster art group I belonged to in San Francisco during the 1980s – The Nuclear Beauty Parlor. The Wikipedia article awaits review, so hopefully you’ll soon be able to read about us. (Update: Wiki Article The Nuclear Beauty Parlor)
San Francisco during the 80s is not a well-documented time period, given all the post-punk, political art, take-to-the-streets protesting I experienced. Pop culture would have us believe the 1980s was a funny fashion period when everyone loved shoulder pads and the Reagans. Everyone I knew then was making art or making a statement or both. Music and performance art, video, visual art, poetry, comedy, protest marches and blockades, comics, posters, film, and nightly events in unregulated spaces swirled in constant motion. It was a culture of permission. You were permitted to be an artist, to live cheaply with low rent and part-time jobs. The pace wasn’t sustainable, we lost many artists to AIDS and addiction, so the time flew by without the sobriety required for documentation.
During my research for the Wikipedia article on The Nuclear Beauty Parlor, I discovered that many of the news and magazine articles from the 80s remain un-digitized. Or they exist behind a Pay Wall, like the Wall Street Journal. Artists and reporters video-taped many events, but the quality is terribly low compared to what we have now, deemed unworthy of saving.
Worthy of saving.
“The first online digital archive dedicated solely to feminist art. This ever-growing database offers profiles from some of the most prominent and promising contributors to feminist art from the 1960s to the present. Each profile includes multiple images, video and audio clips, short biographies, CVs, and “Feminist Artist Statements.”
There is much to discover here!
My project, to archive my own past with an extraordinary group of women during an extraordinary time, increased my appreciation for the effort behind this groundbreaking project at The Brooklyn Museum. Somebody has to do it, and somebody is doing it! Thank you Elizabeth Sackler and everyone involved.
When my children face the question, “Why are there no great women artists?” they can provide a URL and say, “Feast your eyes and heal your ignorance.”