March of the pigs

'The Artist-as-Curator: Kiki Smith' at the Davis Museum, Heide Hatry at Pierre Menard, Agnès Varda at Harvard's Sert Gallery
By EVAN J. GARZA  |  February 27, 2009

Heide Hatry, Nanny
In "THE ARTIST-AS-CURATOR: KIKI SMITH,"at the Davis Museum beginning March 11, the contemporary queen of the multidisciplinary absurdist feminist mystique gets her run of the museum's collection. Smith has chosen several objects from varied cultures and periods in order to create her own display. Of special interest is the one painting in the show, an 18th-century Mexican ex-voto (a votive offering/prayer to a saint) depicting a woman enduring a mastectomy. Smith has titled it "Cut from Her Breast," and she's strewn reproduced fragments of it throughout the show to create a new, particularly Kiki context within which to experience and interpret works of art.

If the handsome photographic portraits of women's faces in "HEIDE HATRY: HEADS AND TALES" at Pierre Menard Gallery look a little eerie, there's a reason: the heads, assembled for the photos, are made almost entirely of pig parts. On view through March 15, these images of pig eyes, skin, and flesh resemble the feminine features of real women, capturing suggested movement and the warm (and occasionally macabre) facial expressions of porcine-featured subjects. Combining wigs, cosmetics, women's clothing, and other props (as if a real hand were applying lipstick), they're as seductive as they are morbid. The exhibit marks the release of Hatry's book of the same name (published by Charta); it includes 27 pigskin portraits and stories by 27 writers.

Opening March 12 at Harvard's Sert Gallery is "AGNÈS VARDA: LES VEUVES DE NOIRMOUTIER" ("The Widows of Noirmoutier"), the French filmmaker's first US showing of this 2004 photo/video installation. The central image is a large black-and-white photograph of women in black on a beach. Surrounding it are video monitors that profile each of the 14 mourning women. "I could not have shown so many faces at once in a film," says Varda of the installation in a release. "The multi-screen configuration allows the experience of the collective and the individual at once." A filmmaker since the 1950s and an exhibitor in the 2003 Venice Biennale, Varda gives a lecture at the Carpenter Center on March 12, with a reception in the Sert Gallery to follow. A retrospective of her features and videos, "Agnès Varda: A/live in Film and Video," runs at the Harvard Film Archive March 8-16.

 Slideshow: Heide Hatry at Pierre Menard Gallery.
"ARTIST AS CURATOR: KIKI SMITH" at Davis Museum, 106 Central St, Wellesley | March 11–June 14 | 781.283.2034 | "HEIDE HATRY: HEADS AND TALES" at Pierre Menard Gallery, 10 Arrow St, Cambridge | Through March 15 | 781.868.2033 | "AGNÈS VARDA: LES VEUVES DE NOIRMOUTIER" at Sert Gallery at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard University, 24 Quincy St, Cambridge | March 12–April 12 | Lecture March 12 at 6 pm | 617.495.3251
Related: Slideshow: 'El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote to You about Africa' at the Davis Museum, El Anatsui shows why he's one of the best, Autumn blossoms: Our 10 most anticipated art shows this fall, More more >
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