Leslie Labowitz, Record Companies Drag Their Feet, 1971
Leslie Labowitz
Record Companies Drag Their Feet

Up to 1972, Leslie Labowitz (USA) studied at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles, where "Menstruation Wait" was shown for the first time and almost led to her expulsion. She received a Fulbright Grant to study in Düsseldorf, where she performed "Menstruation Wait" again. Influenced by Joseph Beuys, she began to see art as a means of initiating social change; but also his shamanism appealed to her. Back in the USA she became involved in the Women’s House and met Suzanne Lacy. Their collaboration revolved around issues of violence against women, as can be seen in the piece In "Mourning and in Rage". Their collaboration continues to this day. She also developed "Sproutime", an ongoing art project and ecological business, crossing the boundaries between art and life. The question of how a process-oriented performance artist can support her art and also have a life led to an installation and performance in Franklin Furnace in 1981, in which she transplanted her backyard sprout growing business into an art context.

Record Companies Drag their Feet took place on the Sunset Strip, across from Tower Records and under a giant billboard publicising the new Kiss album Love Gun. This performance by Leslie Labowitz and Women Against Violence Against Women functioned as a protest against the use of violence and sexual images of women in record company advertising. Actresses portraying company executives costumed as roosters were driven up and down the strip in a gold convertible. They arrived at the performance site and began performing their duties as executives. Behind them a red graph showed the increasing rape rate, drawing connections between the brutal images, financial profits and sexual crimes. Women carrying blown-up images of album covers and signs reading “Amor no es Violente” and “This is a Crime Against Women” come together in the end to drape the roosters and their desk with a large banner reading “Don’t Support Violence Against Women – Boycott”. The event was designed specifically for the media and was broadcast on every major TV station in Los Angeles.

Performance: 3 August 1977, Los Angeles

Courtesy Leslie Labowitz