Cindy Hinant’s work often references the male bastion of conceptual practice of the 1960s. Hinant’s Grids Next Door 2011 is a video where a pink grid is computer- generated in response to audio from an US television series starring Hugh Hefner’s girlfriends called Girls Next Door . The video is shown on a typical television monitor, a fitting format for such work. For Hinant, the grid is a homage to the late Minimal artist Sol LeWitt, while also suggesting a modernist paradigm of order and control (Agnes Martin is relevant to note here), which is dismantled by the chattering young women. 20 A younger female artist openly displaying her affinity for a male conceptual artist is a gesture that departs from earlier feminist tactics. Also, that she engages with such “low” subject matter as reality television is not surprising given her interest in the founding generation of conceptual artists. 21 Recall Victor Burgin’s relationship to advertising, Dan Graham’s magazine works, and Robert Smithson’s essays. Hinant acknowledges her debt to Minimalism, explaining that while growing up in the Midwest and becoming interested in art in high school, contemporary art meant Minimalism. Before the advent of the internet and the growth of interest in contemporary art, most art books and classes would lead up to the postwar period circa 1960 and stop there. Hinant’s visual language, therefore, was predicated on this generation of artist.
The playmates, whose job is to make public appearances and be kept as multiple girlfriends of the Playboy founder, are symbolic of both the triumph and failure of consumerism and popular culture, where softcore models and reality television stars are revered and reviled in equal measure. The inane dialogue of these women, whose appearance and lifestyle epitomize the objectification of women, is heard in the background. Hinant used computer software called Incomptech Grid Generator to construct a grid through the trigger of sound from the television show. In the course of 22 minutes, a grid builds one line at a time and we understand the reality of television playmates through their words and voices rather than their appearances. Perhaps, in today’s expanded notionmof what feminism is, one might understand the playmates as women making the ultimate enlightened decision, using their feminine attributes as a source of income and notoriety; however, it is a far stretch to understand Playmate as a feminist career option as it is intrinsically linked to youth and beauty, both of which fade.
In this work Hinant uses a Minimal format – the grid so revered through the work of Lewitt and his drawings. But she imbues it with another layer of meaning: the media’s continued depiction of women as sexual objects and ciphers of male exploitation.
-Battista, Kathy, New York New Wave: Feminist Artists in Emerging Practices, London: IB Taurus, 2019