Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: Feminist Art Base: Andrea Bowers

Letters to an Army of Three

Andrea Bowers. Letters to an Army of Three, 2005.

Description:
"Letters to an Army of Three" records thirty men and women reading letters sent to abortion rights activists, prior to the passage of Roe v. Wade. The letters were written by people who were desperate to receive safe abortions for themselves or loved ones. The abortion rights activists were a group of three women working together from 1964-73 in the San Francisco Bay area and were nicknamed "The Army of Three." These three women, Patricia Maginnis, Lana Clark Phelan and Rowena Gurner, crusaded for legal abortions and women's health rights and were a major force behind the nation's biggest underground pro-choice movement. They started a list of doctors who would provide safe abortions outside the United States, primarily in Mexico and Japan. The Army of Three received letters from all over the country requesting the list of doctors. In the video, the words from the past come through the voices of those in the present contextualizing historical events in our current situation. The past becomes relevant in the present as many government officials in the United States reconsider outlawing abortions. The setting of the video emulates 18th and 19th century portraiture and still life painting of women with flowers. Each actor is shot with a different floral arrangement and colored fabric backgrounds. In the history of this genre women are displayed as decoration and become synonymous with the flowers. This video reverses the effect of objectification and use the flowers to emphasize the voices of the readers and the content of the letters.

Medium:
Video

Tags:
nonviolence, activism, portraiture, Patricia Maginnis, abortion rights, Lana Clark Phelan, Rowena Gurner, Roe v. Wade, still life, feminism

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Images
Diabloblockade, Diablo Nuclear Power Plant, Abalone Alliance, 1981Detail of "Still Life of The AIDS Memorial Quilt in Storage (Blocks 4336-4340)"  Vieja Gloria (video still)Eulogies to One and Another (Installation view)Defense of NecessityVows (Goldman, Emma. "Marriage and Love." New York: Mother Earth Publishing Association, 1910.)Letters to the Army of Three and Letters to an Army of Three (Installation view)

Videos
Letters to an Army of ThreeThe Weight of Relevance Nonviolent Civil Disobedience Training

Location
Los Angeles, CA
United States

Contact
assistant@vielmetter.com

Text, images, audio, and/or video in the Feminist Art Base are copyrighted by the contributing artists unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.