Suzanne Lacy, Three Weeks in May, 1977
Suzanne Lacy
Three Weeks in May

Suzanne Lacy (*1945, USA) is known for her large-scale work involving large numbers of participants, usually concerned with political issues in relation to the role and status of women in society. She was an early student on the Feminist Art Program at the California State College (alongside Faith Wilding) in 1971. After graduating she taught performance art in the Feminist Art Workshops at the Woman’s Building in Los Angeles. Her often research based practice seeked to act directly within society and its political framework, collaborating for instance with — besides artists such as Leslie Labowitz or Barbara T. Smith — lawyers, prostitutes or elder women. As in the three–year project "The Crystal Quilt" (1987) which involved 430 older women talking about age in a final sound performance. During the 1990s Lacy worked with teams of artists and youth to create an ambitious series of performances, work- shops, and installations on youth and public policy.

Performed by Suzanne Lacy and many collaborators, Three Weeks in May exposed the extent of reported rapes in Los Angeles during a three-week-long performance in May 1977. Lacy conceptualized this piece as an ‘extended’ performance, one made up of many different life-like activities: speeches by politicians, radio interviews with hotline activists, news releases, self defence demonstrations, speak outs, and art performances. Each day Lacy went to Los Angeles Police Department’s central office for rape reports from the previous day. She stamped these locations on a map, along with fainter markings symbolic of the estimated nine additional rapes for every one reported. As the map turned red, a second map, installed next to it and showing sites of resistance (organizations and self-help activities for violated women) revealed places and schedules for the thirty-plus events produced during the three weeks of the piece. Television and print media covered many of the events.

Performance: May 1977, Los Angeles

Courtesy Suzanne Lacy