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Nude Frieze

A work made of 9 drawings, 40 black and white photographs, 4 polaroids, and a pair of goggles.

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  • A work made of 9 drawings, 40 black and white photographs, 4 polaroids, and a pair of goggles.

Date:

1972

Artist:

Barbara T. Smith
American, born 1931

About this artwork

A pioneering figure within the Los Angeles performance art scene in the late 1960s and ’70s, Barbara T. Smith cofounded a space where she held her own performances and helped to facilitate exper- imental works by others. For over 50 years, Smith has undertaken empowering investigations of death, femininity, motherhood, sexuality, and spirituality. She is best known, however, for controversial performances in which she sought to question traditional gender roles and spiritual identity.

For the performance and resulting installation Nude Frieze, Smith conjured ancient Byzantine murals as well as present-day construction sites. Wearing welding goggles, the artist, acting as architect, sat at a high drafting stool and made drawings during the performance, which was accompanied by sacred Gregorian chanting interspersed with rock music. Meanwhile workers, directed by a foreman, labored together to suspend human subjects onto the gallery walls using staple-reinforced duct tape. The naked subjects formed a living frieze evocative of antiquity. Before the models were extracted from this test of endurance, pencil lines were drawn between the figures to create a field of lines to preserve their residual shapes. As Smith explains, the gallery “remained a sanctuary to visit for the rest of the month.”

Status

Currently Off View

Department

Contemporary Art

Artist

Barbara T. Smith

Title

Nude Frieze

Date

Made 1972

Medium

9 drawings, 40 black and white photographs, 4 Polaroids, and a pair of goggles

Dimensions

Dimensions vary with installation

Credit Line

Gift of Society for Contemporary Art

Reference Number

2016.214

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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