“When the woman speaks, she names her own oppression,” remarked Martha Rosler, pioneering feminist artist. SPOOKY BOOBS, a collaborative of three Wisconsin artists, takes this sentiment to heart by using language and performance to help bring awareness, agency and empowerment to themselves as artists and to their audience. Their work uses elements of surprise, audience interaction and humor to place sexist words and attitudes experienced in daily life in the gallery’s public sphere.
Formed in 2014, the collaboration by then fellow grad students Amy Cannestra [MFA ’15], J Myszka Lewis [MFA ’15] and Maggie Snyder [MFA ’15] was created in response to their shared experiences of misogyny, particularly as burgeoning artists.
“We all witnessed a lot of [sexism] as separate artists and realized it was bigger than us,” Cannestra says.
Joining forces, they embraced a feminist agenda, disarming the disdain the term can incite. The group chuckled while explaining that feminism is spooky and boobs are funny, funneling both their humor and mission. They chose to present themselves as a unified entity, giving credit in galleries to SPOOKY BOOBS rather than to each individual artist.
Their overt implementation of feminism “addresses how it’s a naughty word—the other F word,” says Snyder. “It felt liberating knowing that this was our purpose and it didn’t matter if some people wrote us off as a feminist collective because others will be excited about it.”