Note: reviews are not in historical order, and in most cases are not the complete reviews. If you need more complete copy (including images) for research or review please make a request by email.
Martha Wilson, Franklin Furnace
One of these artists was Ilona Granet, who did a performance that would have put Vito Acconci to shame, had he been there. It was about rape. First, Ilona appeared on the street outside the storefront space FF occupies, herding in the audience with a billy club: "Cmon you assholes, move those butts inside!" Verbal abuse. Everyone sat down, Ilona sat on a stool slowly stripping off her "raptist" clothes, and hysterically told the audience how she was raped once, twice, three, four times. All the while a male voice coming from the mezzanine above interrupted her, heckled her: "Aah you women love it, you really wanted it!" More verbal abuse. Ilona entwines herself in a bedsheet, looking like she is rising out of her hospital bed.
Lucy Lippard, Art Review
Ilona Granet, the only other artist of these eight who didn't use huge slides, did a chaotic cabaret act about disillusionment, violence, armament buildup, and militarism in relation to the alienated individual. In "Is It War or Is It Work", she gave a virtuoso performance of "Little America" as a spoiled brat screeching, caterwauling, and cooing her way through a parodic New Wave "opera," accompanied by a zany technology of out-of-control computerized toy oil rigs and missiles (by sculptor Barry Holden).
Christine Tamblyn, The New Art Examiner
Ilona Granet has been raped four times. This is a shocking and uncanny piece of information. What is perhaps even more startling is that she had the courage to do a public performance based on her experiences In her performance which was entitled Ranting and Raving is Almost in Season, Ripe for the Picking, I'm Sick of the Licking, dealt with both the personal and the universal implications of rape. At the beginning of the performance, the audience was seated so that they faced the windows and could look out on the street. Granet was dancing around on the sidewalk, attracting quite a bit of attention from passers by. A tape began playing inside the Gallery articulating the inner monologue Granet's vulnerability might inspire in a potential rapist. However, the voice on the tape was Granet's, which emphasized the psychic interface between rapist and victim.
After a few minutes, Granet came inside and herded the audience into another part of the space, giving sharp orders like, "Get going, you think this is going to be easy, that it won't hurt?" Once the audience was settled in their new seats, Granet delivered a long intense monologue from a podium. It ranged from haranguing to humor to pleas for social change as she alluded to her own experiences and her series about them based on historical research she had done. At one point she referred to the row of doll chairs which she had arranged on both sides of the podium. "Those are all my children," she explained, symbolizing in an eerie way the possible consequences of rape. She ended the piece with wordless, cathartic singing.
The performance was raw and unaestheticized although Granet's skill as a performer gave it an aura of professionalism. Its effectiveness was dependent on arousing emotions in the audience-anxiety, empathy, anger. As might be expected, some audience members were moved and others were not. Granet seems to be in the process of establishing the boundaries of an elusive subjective territory. Her integrity makes such a strong impression that critical judgments seem irrelevant in comparison, as do considerations about whether or not her activities constitute "art." Our culture lacks rituals for exorcizing its horrors. Performances like Granet's help to fill the void left by this deficiency. (N.A.M.E. Gallery)
New York Sun
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Eleanor Heartney, Art In America
Like Erika Rothenberg, whose pseudo-storyboards convey similar messages, Granet plays folksy ad styles against some of the more pressing current threats to personal freedom, The contradiction between style and content serves as a warning against the dangers of complacency. These are clever signs which make one smile and then think. One wishes to see them infiltrate the world outside the gallery.
Lisa Liebman, New Yorker Magazine
The centerpiece of this energetic display of paintings and other works comprises three cheery-looking metal billboards with several political themes. Even when the politics in Granet's work are obvious - an anti-anti-abortion work is painted with slogans such as "State Womb" -she can be funny and endearing, without losing her sense of agitation. (Through Nov. 11. (P.P.O.W) 532 Broadway)
Edward Waisnis, Cover Magazine
IIona Granet has placed signs and billboards all over the streets, but this is her first one-person show indoors. Feminism is the issue, and Granet's current signs demand a little respect for women in the workplace. She's a one woman advertising firm, producing public service messages about toxic waste, corporate greed, and sexual harassment. Her art is most effective on location, but the "originals" (the artist makes large editions) are beautifully painted objects Much art.. like much popular music and television, basks in the light of self-serving fashion. A large stake of contemporary art practice, production, and theory differs little, in quality and impact, from that of those other "lower" disciplines. Not so the work of Ilona Granet. Granet's agenda to raise consciousness to the plight of women in the work-place society is something of serious proportions, indeed.
This widely ranging subject is dealt with, by Granet, concisely with wit and an insider's understanding and fury. In addition to feminine subordination, a panoply of topical social issues (nuclear armament, toxic waste, the scope of the powers of state etc are confronted in these "public works" (show title).
Elizabeth Hess, Village Voice
State Womb is a hilarious billboard that deserves to be put up in Washington D.C. An eagle clutches two helpless sperms in its claws, as if they were endangered species. The bird is framed by two bubble-gum pink pregnant women, one of them looks down with horror at her protruding belly, where a tiny White House is growing. Get this womb the abortion pill! Granet has reproduced this peculiar pregnancy on a wearable button, a fitting and farcical protest against the advent of a "state womb."
Kim Levin Village Voice (recommended Voice Choice)
ILONA GRANET: An underground artist with a reputation for smart signage does a sweetly venomous update on a genteel decorative object: the Wedgwood urn. Hers have woman warriors, supersonic aircraft, and guided missiles as well as class conscious Arcadian motifs. P.P.O.W.
"Signs of the Times" Says their creator artist Ilona Granet: "People laughed at the Pooper Scooper signs too but they cleaned up the streets"
Baltimore Evening Sun
Down you animals! Ilona Granet is tired of the sexist behavior of New York men, so she's putting up 2-foot-squire metal signs to urge those who must leer to do so in silence. One sign shows a shapely woman admonishing a tomcat truck driver- "No Cat Calls - Whistling or Kissing Sounds." The other, illustrated with a man restraining a struggling wolf, advises in English and Spanish: "Curb Your Animal Instinct." "The eye-catching signs came to be because I was bothered a lot. Every girl I know was bothered a lot" Granet, a believer in art with a social message, said yesterday. She said she has Invested about $3,500, some, from an arts grant and some from her own money to print 100 of her signs. Later this week the East Village artist says she will begin putting up "12 little signs which are going to change mankind so everyone will be gentlemen and ladies again."