The discourse within Open Call will be at its most multifaceted in the show-within-a-show curated by artists Phoebe d’Heurle and Maryam Hoseini. Just as The Shed is upending our expectations about what a big, expensive new art center can be, the two intend to blur lines about museums in a presentation that’s “all about doubling,” explains Hoseini. “We’re artists taking on curation, and doubling is resonant for us.”
Their show will feature six to seven creators, including themselves, the late Surrealist legend Dorothea Tanning and the multimedia artist A.L. Steiner, but it will be enclosed with transparent walls, keeping it separate but also connected to the rest of Open Call.
The inspiration for the presentation is the work of 19th-century artist Suzanne Valadon (1865–1938), who was also a model for Degas and Matisse. You’ve seen her before: She’s the smiling female dancer in Renoir’s famous Dance at Bougival, in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. After her days as an Impressionist muse, she embarked on a 40-year painting career, and was also the mother of the painter Maurice Utrillo.
“We were inspired by one reclining nude in particular,” says d’Heurle of a Valadon canvas at the Met, where only a small percentage of the art on display is by women. “She shifted the expectations for a woman, and it got us thinking about the representation of women’s bodies.” Examinations of voyeurism and the male gaze are front and center here. D’Heurle adds, “As a painter who was once a model, she made a huge leap.”
D’Heurle has primarily worked with photography, and Hoseini with painting. The two met at Bard in 2014 and have been happily collaborating for three years. If their Open Call exhibition illustrates anything, it’s that The Shed is being set up to reflect a new kind of prismatic discourse that doesn’t rely on the same old traditions. “We feel like as artists, we’re always in discussion about everything we see around us,” says Hoseini. “And this show reflects that.”