Blum & Poe Broadcasts is pleased to present Sisters of the Mantic Stain, recent works by UK-based artist Linder.
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Icon of feminist art, Linder is known for her photomontages, performances, and installations that problematize the commodification of the female body in visual culture. Her dissection and reassembly of images reveal institutionalized misogynies that often circulate in disguise. Since the 1970s, her practice has acutely uncloaked the invisible hegemonic systems and commercial preoccupations underlying everyday imagery.
Sisters of the Mantic Stain is a new body of work made by pouring enamel paints onto the nude female bodies featured in 1980s naturist magazines. These publications were meant to encourage a diverse audience of all ages to discard clothing at every opportunity—although they almost exclusively feature women’s bodies of a certain age and fitness. Following the decalcomania process of pouring paint onto the images, Linder creates abstract, painterly stains to be looked through as much as looked at. In this way, two different forms of contemplation take place between the printed halftone dot and the congealed enamel. The artist’s marks disrupt the neat outline of the bodies and linger over them like auras, extractions, and erasures. These vivid “stains” celebrate the freedom of applying free-form color and line, as well as a radiant and new possible space for the commercial images to inhabit.
Linder’s Sisters of the Mantic Stain emerges from her time spent studying the work of little-known British Surrealist painter Ithell Colquhoun, a female painter removed from the London Surrealist Group for refusing to renounce her interest in occult practices. Colquhoun experimented with exercises of automatism to create stains on paper that come from the divine, or “mantic stains.” For Linder, this stain-making on paper is similarly a potent methodology for arriving at a state of heightened consciousness. Like collage, these constructions are a psychoanalytical tool to discover what is hidden beneath the surface, floating in the dark waters of unconsciousness.
The Sisters of the Mantic Stain series is distinct from the work that Linder has been making for years, a practice that required spending hours collecting images to cut and paste with analog methods. Contrary to the labor-intensive process of photomontage that demands full control, stain-making calls for an embrace of flow state, to be at ease with the river of time and serendipity. Following the Surrealist technique of decalcomania, Linder uses paper to distribute pigment onto another sheet—a process which does not reveal a result until the paper is peeled apart. She experiments with various materials and mediums, from liquid foundation and eye shadows to food. The artist cultivates the stain—a traditionally unfavorable mark—and invites the viewer to accept what is messy, to find comfort in discomfort. This is a celebration of flow and spirit found within images, a queering of the paper, an abstraction of form, as magic guides the outcome.
Linder’s work is currently on view in The Stomach and the Port, at the Liverpool Biennial curated by Manuela Moscoso, through June 27. A virtual curatorial tour of the biennial with Moscoso and Sarah Demeuse will take place on June 24—register here. A recent retrospective of Linder’s work, Linderism, was on view at Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge and Hatton Gallery, Newcastle University from 2020-21. Prior, a comprehensive retrospective of her work Femme/object, traveled from the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France to the Kestnergesellschaft, Hannover, Germany in 2013.