Mary Ascher, Corridor of Power: Ideologies I, 1965, Oil on Canvas

Mary Ascher
Corridor of Power: Ideologies I, 1965
Oil on Canvas
The Mishkin Gallery at Baruch College

Power struggles are not collaborative endeavours. Corridor of Power: Ideologies I offers a necessary meditation on the political ideologies that developed during times of global unrest, specifically between WWI and WWII. Painting served as a vehicle for internalized criticisms of the surrounding world, especially for women artists. With little canonical recognition to be gained, Ascher’s investment in making was purely idiosyncratic and personal. Preconism was fading out of western painterly techniques, as positive architectural depictions of an industrial globe no longer made sense after the destruction of the Second World War. Abstract expressionism began to take over, as artists further invested in their own psychological landscapes. By focusing on destructive, world-crushing ideologies, Ascher surfaces one of the more ominous current events of her time. A swastika and sickle and hammer occupy the farthest corners of the painting. By pushing these symbols together in a singular painting, a feeling of discomfort arises. The painting is unsettling, just as the political powers were, as they played out and interacted with each other in real-time. Ascher takes note of the ways in which the United States was implicated in internal and global dilemmas. I think this entire Corridor of Power series can simultaneously be read chronologically or individually. Each work, regardless of order, informs and communicates with another. This, the most globally focused work out of the group, takes note of the grander implications of the political and social climate. Power and attention were invested in subverting symbols and reordering them in order to exercise control.