Suzanne Lacy, There are Voices in the Desert, 1978
Suzanne Lacy
There are Voices in the Desert

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.

This performance was a joint project with Leslie Labowitz. It related the exploitation of women with violence in Las Vegas and followed the model established by Three Weeks in May by including many activities by artists and activists. For an accompanying exhibition, Lacy constructed a small, white room inside the gallery with a three-foot high entrance and a sand-covered floor. Critic Jeff Kelley wrote in Artweek, “Women were encouraged to write their experiences with rape and violence on the interior walls prior to the final installation.” During the actual performance, viewers entering the room saw “three lamb carcasses, suspended as if dancing, embellished with pink and white Las Vegas showgirls plumage and beads draped over their fresh meat. [...] Lacy sat above the entrance, naked, almost spiritual in presence” as “she placed necklaces around the necks of viewers as they leaned over to enter, symbolically linking them with the adorned lamb carcasses. A recorder hissed the sound of hot desert wind. The walls echoed the words of raped women. [...] In the end participants gathered around a circle of candles outside the small room, to share opinions, pain, and consciousness.”

Performance: 1978, Las Vegas

Courtesy Suzanne Lacy