Johanna Fateman: ALEX BAG

February 1, 2012 6:46 pm Published by

Johanna Fateman: ALEX BAG

Johanna Fateman on Alex Bag and the queasy delights of self-recognition in post Riot Grrrl, entry-level art world satire:


In 1995 I was an art student at SVA, having fled the imploding Northwest Riot Grrrl scene for New York City. Alex Bag’s character in her videotape Untitled Fall ‘95 (1995)—an SVA student who quotes Bikini Kill, suffers through a class taught by Josh Decter, and has shitty jobs—so closely mirrored my circumstances, I felt queasy as I tittered in the gallery. Bag’s work offered liberation through embarrassment—as humbled and indicted as I felt by the portrayal of her student’s juvenile angst, I was elated and vindicated by her punk-style critique of art school and the entry-level art world. Most importantly, I realized that the personal and intellectual isolation I felt that time was the obvious subject for my own art.

I wrote about Untitled Fall ‘95 and Alex Bag’s monograph for the new issue of Bookforum, in print and online.