Vaginal Davis is a performer and artist whose vivacious work deploys radical politics, makeshift aesthetics, and wicked humor in powerful artworks spanning a variety of mediums—from music and performance to painting, sculpture, and ﬁlm. In the late 1970s, as the frontwoman for the punk band Afro Sisters, Davis drew inspiration from Angela Davis and the Black Panthers. Her unique brand of punk drag aesthetics—deemed “drag terrorism” by the late scholar José Esteban Muñoz—revels in a refusal to be recuperated by the mainstream. “I was always too gay for the punks and too punk for the gays,” Davis recalled in a recent interview with Cyrus Grace Dunham. “I am a societal threat.”
Davis resides in Berlin and has performed widely, including recently for documenta 14. Her work has been exhibited in solo exhibitions at 80WSE, New York University; 41 Cooper Gallery, Cooper Union, New York; and Participant Inc., New York. Her work has been included in group exhibitions at the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Bucharest; the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Rijeka; and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, among many others. Davis was a member of the Los Angeles–based punk band ¡Cholita! The Female Menudo. She has also produced zines such as Fertile LaToyah Jackson, among many other publications. A proliﬁc ﬁlmmaker, Davis’ video The White to be Angry (1999) will be on view at the Art Institute of Chicago from February 1–April 26.
Sponsored by Eric Ceputis and David W. Williams