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Sex Work

Judith Bernstein

The Box and Karma International, S9

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Judith Bernstein, Birth of the Universe #2 (2013). Courtesy of The Box and Karma International.

Judith Bernstein, Birth of the Universe #2 (2013). Courtesy of The Box and Karma International.

Judith Bernstein’s art directly confronts gender inequality and social injustice via explicit sexual imagery, with astounding graphic impact. From her early bathroom graffiti-inspired work to her more recent focus on the theme of women’s rage, in Bernstein’s art we face societal issues as well as our own subconscious.

The historical One Panel Vertical #1  (1978) and Birth of the Universe #2  (2013) are two contrasting works by Bernstein. While the first is from a period in which the artist focused on charcoal, the other shows her recent shift to painting. Standing opposite what the arist calls ‘the angry cunt’ (Bernstein’s symbol for women’s rage) is a black vertical screw – a phallic form that drives aggressively upward. Both works exemplify Bernstein’s continued interest in confronting gender inequality and frame a grouping of smaller works, providing a survey of the artist’s extensive practice over five decades.

Judith Bernstein (Born 1942, Newark; lives and works in New York) Judith Bernstein began to create works that confront militarism and machismo during her time as a student at the Yale School of Art (New York). In 1974, Bernstein’s work was censored from a show at the Philadelphia Civic Center. She has since been the subject of a major rediscovery, showing in numerous exhibitions including at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the New Museum of Contemporary Art, both New York, as well as the ICA, London.