This was underwhelming and superficial but not bad. Five women artists are presented in sequences of 15-20min each, without introduction, without explaining why them (although the documentary shows them installing solo shows and similar and their art is related to gender, so it does become clear why), without bringing them together. The women are, in order of appearance: Swoon, Ghada Amer, Kiki Smith, Marina Abramovic, Nancy Spero. They do talk a little bit about New York City in very abstract ways, which they all moved to from elsewhere, and what home means to them. Some also touch upon the topic of relationship - Swoon and Amer both mention, in different words, that they felt the degree of involvement in their art precluded a long-term relationship. I learned separately that Smith lives alone and Abramovic had two short-lived marriages. Spero also felt she didn't have time for marriage when she was a young artist but she got married at 25 and ended up in a very happy and solid marriage to fellow artist Leon Golub, who died in 2004, some 50 years later. (She died in 2009.) We see their art. We also see them at openings of exhibitions about their art, which is how the viewer knows they are recognized artists, since there is no voice-over and no context given.
My favorite artists profiled were Ghada Amer and Kiki Smith, following by Nancy Spero. (I liked Swoon's art and she seemed personable but I didn't feel she wasn't very articulate about her art and so maybe she wasn't the best choice to open the documentary with. As for Abramovic... let's just say other people like her work more than I do.)
A good quote by Ghada Amer (slightly edited): "At first I wanted to fit in. And then I realized it's ok not to fit in. I fit in with people who are like me: people who don't fit in, people who have left their home and they've traveled and keep on traveling." The segment about her parents in Egypt and what they think about her art (you have to see the images of her art to understand why they're asked) was priceless. Their pride in their daughter's success is obvious. Interestingly, her father was the driving force who encouraged her to become who she wanted and go away and travel.
A good quote by Kiki Smith: "I’m much more comfortable with myself now than when I was 20-something and I think my work reflects that. Whether it makes for better art, I don't know."
There are a lot of good tidbits, for instance when Spero finally moved to NYC in a loft that wasn't meant for residential use like fellow artists, people had A.I.R. (Artist In Residence) painted on their doors to let the firefighters know there were people living there, in case of fire. Later that was the name given to the all-women's gallery she co-founded, and she mentions many women artists were reluctant to be associated with an all-women gallery.
Overall I felt there was a missed opportunity for an in-depth documentary about being a woman artist in NYC (you can't draw any generalization from the cases of those five, although at least a variety of ages are represented), but it was interesting nonetheless.