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August 01 , 2009

Clairvoyance (For Those In The Desert)

Performance Pieces, 1979–2004


The performance artist Joanna Frueh has emerged over the past twenty-five years as a wildly original voice in feminist art. Her uninhibited performances are celebrations of beauty, sensuality, eroticism, and pleasure. Clairvoyance (For Those In The Desert), which features eighteen of her essential performance texts, is a celebration of this remarkable artist and her work. Arranged chronologically, from The Concupiscent Critic (1979) through Ambrosia (2004), the pieces reveal Frueh’s evolution as an artist and intellectual over the course of her career. Many of these texts have never before been published; others have not been readily available until now. Among the sixteen color photographs in this richly illustrated book are pictures of Frueh performing and images from Joanna in the Desert, a 2006 collaboration between Frueh and the artist and scholar Jill O’Bryan.

Frueh’s performances are unabashedly autobiographical, as likely to reflect her scholarship as a feminist art historian as her love affairs or childhood memories. For Frueh, eros and self-love are part of a revolutionary feminist strategy; her work exemplifies the physicality and embrace of pleasure that she finds wanting in contemporary feminist theory. Scholarly and rigorous yet playful in tone, her performances are joyful, filled with eroticism, flowers, sexy costumes, and beautiful colors, textures, and scents. Recurring themes include Frueh’s passionate attachment to the desert landscape and the idea of transformation: a continual reaching for clarity of thought and feeling.
In an afterword as lyrical and breathless as her performance pieces, Frueh explores her identification with the desert and its influence on her art. Clairvoyance (For Those In The Desert) includes a detailed chronology of Frueh’s performances.

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