Center for Art,
Research and Alliances
September 21, 2024 – January 12, 2025

Tina Girouard: SIGN-IN

Exhibition Cover

Tina Girouard: SIGN-IN is the first comprehensive retrospective devoted to the Louisiana-born artist Tina Girouard (1946–2020) in New York City, presented at CARA in partnership with Rivers Institute for Contemporary Art & Thought.

From the 1970s until her death, Girouard was a dedicated experimental artist, collaborator, and art worker, whose practice across mediums deeply informed feminist art, craft, performance, and video of the last century. Alongside her individual creative work, she nurtured and was a part of artist communities and organizations in Louisiana, New York, and Haiti, including the Anarchitecture Group, the interdisciplinary cohort of 112 Greene Street, FOOD restaurant, The Kitchen, P.S. 1, and the Festival International de la Louisiane.

Tina Girouard, Screen 4, 1974-1975. Image courtesy of Anat Ebgi Gallery and the Estate of Tina Girouard, Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York
Tina Girouard, Screen 4, 1974-1975. Image courtesy of Anat Ebgi Gallery and the Estate of Tina Girouard, Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York
Film still from Tina Girouard’s Maintenance II: Take Two, Role Change, 1973. Photo by Richard “Dickie” Landry. © Courtesy of Richard Landry and the Estate of Tina Girouard.
Film still from Tina Girouard’s Maintenance II: Take Two, Role Change, 1973. Photo by Richard “Dickie” Landry. © Courtesy of Richard Landry and the Estate of Tina Girouard.

“I like art to function as a preserve, as a refuge,” wrote Girouard. Girouard’s art honored the spirituality of everyday objects and interactions. Her acts of upkeep, including domestic labor traditionally associated with “women’s work,” blurred the boundaries between what she called “lifemaking” and art-making.

SIGN-IN gathers film, performance, drawing, sequin, textile, and installation, all of which trace Girouard’s practice and legacy across genres and geographies. Together with archival photographs, scores, and preparatory notes, the works assembled in SIGN-IN articulate both Girouard’s profound contributions to the field and her belief in collaboration. Traveling as Girouard did between Lousiana and New York, SIGN-IN holds space for an artist’s legacy too long overlooked.

Tina Girouard Death, House and Death, Tina, installed at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, 2024.  Courtesy of the Estate of Tina Girouard and Magenta Plains, New York. Installation image courtesy of  Rivers Institute for Contemporary Art & Thought
Tina Girouard Death, House and Death, Tina, installed at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, 2024. Courtesy of the Estate of Tina Girouard and Magenta Plains, New York. Installation image courtesy of Rivers Institute for Contemporary Art & Thought
Archival photograph of Tina Girouard in the live performance Mass Transit (Stosz Zeit), staged at the Landhaushof Palace, for the Osterreichischer Kunstverein Internationales Performance Festival, Graz, Austria, 1978. © Courtesy of the Estate of Tina Girouard.
Archival photograph of Tina Girouard in the live performance Mass Transit (Stosz Zeit), staged at the Landhaushof Palace, for the Osterreichischer Kunstverein Internationales Performance Festival, Graz, Austria, 1978. © Courtesy of the Estate of Tina Girouard.

Tina Girouard: SIGN-IN at CARA is curated by Rivers Founding Director and Chief Curator, Dr. Andrea Andersson, and Rivers Curator, Dr. Jordan Amirkhani, in conversation with Manuela Moscoso, CARA’s Executive Director and Chief Curator. SIGN-IN was researched and organized by Rivers Institute for Contemporary Art & Thought, New Orleans. SIGN-IN at CARA was produced by Agustin Schang, with curatorial assistance by Marian Chudnovsky.

Tina Girouard: SIGN-IN
September 21, 2024-January 12, 2025

Opening
September 21, 4-7 pm
Free and open to the public
RSVP here.

About the artist
Cynthia Marie “Tina” Girouard (b. 1946, d. 2020) was a distinguished multi-disciplinary artist recognized for her seminal work in performance, video/film and site-specific installation using non-traditional media such as wallpaper, linoleum, textiles, sequins and steel. Girouard is the recipient of numerous fellowships and grants for her work, including invitations to international events such as Documenta 6 in Germany, the Venice Biennale, the Paris Biennale and Frieze New York. Girouard is best known for her work and involvement across a range of American avant-garde movements and communities in 1960’s and 1970’s New York, including Post-Minimalism, Anarchitecture and the Pattern & Decoration Movement.

Born in DeQuincy, Louisiana to Whitney Lewis Girouard (an agricultural engineer) and Yvelle Therior Girouard (a special education teacher) in 1946, Girouard received a B.F.A. in Fine Art from the University of Southwest Louisiana (now the University of Louisiana-Lafayette) in 1968 and moved to New York City in 1969 with the Louisiana-born saxophonist, composer and collaborator Richard “Dickie” Landry. Girouard and Landry married in 1971. Upon moving to New York, Girouard and Landry moved into an apartment at 10 Chatham Square in Chinatown with the painter Mary Heilmann. The trio’s home soon became a center of avant-garde art, music and performance in New York as well as a meeting ground for other Louisiana-born artists working in the Post-Minimalist scene, such as Lynda Benglis and Keith Sonnier.

Girouard was also an early founder and contributor to 112 Greene Street (known as White Columns by 1979), a 4,000-square foot performance space located in a former rag salvaging factory in SoHo just one mile away from her Chatham Square apartment and 112 Greene. Founded by the sculptor Jeffrey Lew and dancer Rachel Wood in 1970, 112 Greene Street hosted early experimental performances and exhibitions by Gordon Matta-Clark, Richard Serra, Vito Acconci, Laurie Anderson and Chris Burden among others. Eclecticism was encouraged with performances often emphasizing the space and scale of the room: artist Charles Simmons covered the entire basement floor with clay; Matta-Clark jack-hammered the concrete floor to expose a room-size section of earth below; while Acconci enclosed himself in the space with a live rooster with Girouard tasked to capture the animal.

112 Greene Street became a significant site of performance and presentation for Girouard, and she debuted a number of important early works there, including Air Space Stage (1972), a large-scale installation that used four sheets of patterned fabric suspended gracefully from the ceiling to create a ‘space-within-a-space’ that shifted according to the light, time of day, and weather conditions. The work is indicative of Girouard’s career-long use of familiar, domestic materials such as fabrics, wallpaper, linoleum and an acute sensitivity to the possibilities and limits of abstraction, repetition, conceptual art, and Minimalism. Girouard’s facility with textiles brought her in close association with the Pattern & Decoration movement founded by Valerie Jaudon and Joyce Kozloff. Girouard’s gestures and materials, such as the use of condensed patterns and loaded, decorative surfaces—provided a powerful critique of the restrained, hypermasculine style of Minimalism and the movement’s gendered perceptions of aesthetic and political notions of femininity, domesticity, ornamentation, institutional critique and artistic labor.

The communal spirit of 112 Greene Street became the catalyst for FOOD—an artist-run culinary performance space and service-industry employment agency for artists founded by Girouard, Matta-Clark, Caroline Gooden and Suzanne Harris in 1971 in an empty storefront on the corner of Prince and Wooster Street in SoHo. The eatery was designed as a site-specific, durational conceptual artwork and encouraged artists to enlist the rituals of serving and sharing food within their own individual practices—artists such as Donald Judd, Robert Rauschenberg and Hisachika Takahashi presented ‘artworks-as-meals’ there and found the emphasis on resourcefulness and experimentation to be in alignment with their own individual practices. By treating all aspects of the preparation and consumption of food as art, FOOD’s open-kitchen menu, use of in-season ingredients, internationalism and communal ethics was a vital space for artists, foodies and community members alike, and forged new paths between performance art and social practice.

FOOD’s emphasis on social consciousness and site-specific engagement catalyzed more collaborative and communal experimentation, leading to the development of the Anarchitecture Movement helmed by Girouard, Matta-Clark and Goodden with the participation of artists such as Laurie Anderson, Suzanne Harris, Jene Highstein, Bernard Kirschenbaum and Landry. Girouard’s definition of architecture as a form of social space encouraged artists to draw attention to peripheral, abandoned or unclaimed sites to render visible the ‘voids and failures that paradoxically glue together the built environment.’

After a fire destroyed much of her studio in New York in 1978, Girouard and Landry moved to a small apartment across from the World Trade Center. Soon after, Girouard and Landry returned to Louisiana and purchased a general store in Cecilia (just fifteen miles northeast of Lafayette), which they turned into a studio space. From this new home, Girouard began connecting and collaborating with local artists in the region as a way of supporting Louisiana francophone culture. This eventually led to the founding of the Artists’ Alliance in Lafayette, LA in 1980 and the establishment of the Festival International de Louisiane–an international festival that brought together music, dance, theater, visual and culinary arts from Francophone Europe, Africa, the Americas and the Caribbean—where she became Director and President. It was during these projects that Girouard became interested and invested in Haitian art.

In 1990, Girouard moved to Port-au-Prince, Haiti and established a studio there, which she kept until 1995. During that time, Girouard studied alongside Haitian artists and learned to make traditional vodou flags, collaborating extensively with Antoine Oleyant and Georges Valris.

A seasoned experimentalist, Girouard continued to expand and develop her practice until her passing in 2020.

About Rivers
Rivers Institute for Contemporary Art & Thought (Rivers) is a non-profit institute supporting artists of the global diaspora. Rivers commits to both long-form research  and experimental publishing in recognition of art as forms of dispersion. From a cultural landscape predicated upon and consigned to a future of migration, Rivers connects the depth of knowledge in New Orleans with artists and scholars working across the world.

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