On July 4, 1976, the Albright-Knox was the place to be. It was the day of Four for the Fourth, a dynamic program in which four artists—Diane Bertolo, Joan Jonas, Hannah Wilke, and Jackie Winsor—created work in the presence and with the assistance of the public on the museum’s grounds.
Wilke’s contribution was a nine-hour performance called “My Country-‘tis of Thee.” The performance, in which Wilke transformed a patriotic into a matriarchic theme, involved the local community. She created three twelve-foot photographs of herself bare-breasted and stoic as a goddess figure in emulation of Augustus Saint-Gaudens's Eight Caryatid Figures, which flank the museum’s Delaware Stairs. She then gave willing participants fruit-flavored bubble gum to chew and return to her, which she shaped into a series of abstract, organic forms affixed to index cards that were placed over the photographs. Wilke intended the vaginal shapes of these small sculptures to interrupt the viewer’s gaze and ultimately bring attention to his or her relationship with the imagery and the objectification of the female body.
Jonas conducted a workshop for visitors in the wooded area around the museum and Penhurst Park. Describing her artistic practice, she said, “In my work, space itself forms an image. But within this framework, there are a set of images that give each work its particular flavor . . . . The transferring of my work to film and tape is natural because the editing devices are similar in both. In this sense, anything transferred through the mediums I use—distance, mirrors, video, becomes an image.”