What all these women have in common is that they’ve become fixtures in Western institutions in the past few years. Houghton is currently the subject of a show at Australia’s Art Gallery of NSW that finds a parallel for her drawings in the abstractions by Wassily Kandinsky, a much better-known artist. Blavatsky’s name recurs regularly in texts for exhibitions, including the 2018 retrospective for af Klint at New York’s Guggenheim Museum, which became the most well-attended show ever staged there. It turns out you can cram all this art referencing invisible worlds, spectral figures, and more into museum walls, those hallowed settings where art history is made.

Is there any way to free these women from the deadening force of the canon? Higgie makes a valiant attempt by writing something that is not necessarily a history. The Other Side broadly has a chronological structure, but it does not always move from Point A to Point B, as a textbook might. Partly, that is an attempt to reflect the very nature of this art itself, which, as Higgie points out, resists rationality and scientific study. {read}