PERSPECTIVE 2008 a Contemporary Feminist Art Project

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Location: Anaid Art Gallery, Bucharest, Romania

Program:
November 13th – press conference, Anaid Art Gallery, 5 p.m
November 13th – opening, 7 p.m
November 14th – lecture, Monica Mayer (Mexico), National University of Arts, 5 p.m.
November 20th - screening FemLink International Video Collage, Anaid Art Gallery, 7 p.m


Perspective 2008 catalog


Statement:

If the communist period generated cultural flaws which distanced the Romanian artistic scene from a series of political and social movements with major cultural effect in the West, after the events from `89 Romania found itself in a painful cultural wandering, in a search for identity which still continues nowadays, in a need, especially after the integration in the European Union, to fall back on the copy-paste formula. A world that wakes up in a self-service phase is a world which will suffer from the unconsciousness handicap, because the past, the causes disappear leaving only the effects visible.

Self-service generations are numb generations which do not care about the context that generates respect, advantages, protection, non-discrimination and other things.

In this context those who activate in Romanian contemporary art, avoid certain political, social, religious based cultural problematic, because they are uncomfortable, or they completely ignore them both on the theoretical level and on the practical one, as if these problems were irrelevant.

In Romania the concern for feminism restricts itself mainly to an academic orientation, around gender studies from some of the universities in Romania, and on the artistic level one cannot talk about a concern or a coherent discourse undertaken by the artists and theoreticians. The examples, if they exist, are isolated. We still live under the imperative idea that, what does not concern us, or does not please us, does not exist.

Avoiding an artistic phenomenon with solid cultural basis is not the solution in approaching contemporary art.

Perspective 2008 project aims to demonstrate that ignorance is not a solution, that feminist art exists, underlining valuable aesthetic and conceptual guidance beginning with the 60s and 70s in the West, and that the resources of this art are still present in today’s social reality. Feminist art submits a critic discourse addressed to ignorance. The artists communicate messages taking into account the relations between genders, forms of abuse, misinformation, discrimination on various criteria (gender, age, race, social status, ethnicity, sexual orientation), and the way in which the condition is inequitable on the level of power. This project holds forth to observe not so much if feminism is relevant in the international contemporary art, but how it is relevant. This filter of analysis can only be applied by taking into account, as much as possible, the rule of diversity. Perspective 2008 gathers artists from various cultural areas, of different ages, different perspectives, as far as the project, although ambitious, must submit to the rules of space and financial implications.

Who is afraid of feminism? This is a question often asked and written after the end of the second wave of feminism, the one of difference and liberation, after solving the equality of rights problem, and entering a stage of emphasizing women’s power, and the pluralism of women’s experiences opposed to the so called victimist approach. In the East - European countries and in the Orient the politics of capacitation are relevant as far as the victimist stage has been overcome. Under the sign of post feminism Western culture offers the prototype of the socially and economically independent woman, of the liberated woman who rejoices the success of the feminist agenda, actually generating a stereotype which does not depend on reality and its context. The effects of the post feminism thinking generate more powerful and visible contrasts, with a background of manipulative economical structures. Great industries need dependent women on the image of independence, because this is marketable. A powerful social contrast has been developing between the groups of women who are the main target of great companies and those of poor women harnessed for a small amount of money, in order to produce merchandise intended for the upper and middle class women.

The participant artists from the Perspective 2008 exhibition practice a self-referential discourse. The inquiry of identity implies the woman as a body, as a biological presence in the meaning that Judit Butler, starting from Michel Foucault`s theories, gives to the body as a performative element playing a role, being an engraved and shaped surface by power practices, and also in the meaning of a manifest of body preservation as a natural anatomical fact. The danger of the biological determinism is the one of maintaining and legitimating socio-cultural discrimination, as far as the birth is not respected as an option but couched as an obligation. The works of Emily Laliberte (Canada) talk about the trauma of abortion, but her concept slides towards an assumption of the biological determinism from a fear which endorses the loss of womanhood/femininity, therefore the maternal qualities, in the fight for the equality of chances. The assumed feminist discourse does not lack confusions due to the quality of information and personal experience.

The works from this exhibition tell stories, and the stories lean upon cultural provenance and the subjective feeling of the artists.

The body is the taboo element which must become visible, is an instrument of attraction and analysis of masculine social behavior (Maria Friberg – Sweden), a centre of emotional information (Denise Pelletier – Canada), a platform of contradictions and debates (Barbara Philipp – The Netherlands), an instrument of ironizing the patriarchal norms (Su Tomesen - The Netherlands), a fetish by its conventional sartorial cover (Jurate Rekeviciute – Lithuania), a cultural sign as a response to the avant-garde position (Chengyao He – China), a manifest for abuse control (Mary Coble – USA), and religious conventionalism (Dorota Nieznalska – Poland). The woman’s face and body are presences amending the effects of the oriental patriarchal traditional system (Ryoko Suzuki – Japan), but also the consuming mechanism of the postmodern woman captive of feminine practices (Marilena Preda Sânc – Romania). Monica Mayer (Mexico) amuses herself on the way in which the body is intercepted based on the role it plays, and Doris Mayer (Austria) banters the myth of the blonde and the associative conventionalism of „feminine practices”. Body theories emphasize the body as a form of representation, as a product of gender technologies (Foucault and Teresa de Lauretis) which imprint the body in a certain socio-cultural, historical context. Thus the corporality does not express but a time changing identity - that of gender – built along the social interactions. The body is not just a passive structure, but is also shaped based on options, taking over at the same time, an impressive baggage of influences, necessary for the social integration.

There is a certain lack of mobilization in Romanian contemporary art when it comes to organizing some events of vast proportions, taking into account the difficulties in finding the necessary financial support, the right space and last but not least, people willing to work. A serious international exhibition requires great efforts, a responsible team, without the handicap of ease or the one of fears of the public’s reaction to a particular concept.

The numerous valuable partners of Perspective 2008 project prove the importance of adjusting the attitude towards the feminist art in relation with history and art in this cultural area, and underline, not the simple act of checking off a discourse on the cultural agenda, but the opening towards normality.


Olivia Nitis - curator (http://olivia.experimentalproject.ro)

Olivia Nitis (Romania)

view the CV (.doc file)

 



Participant artists:

Barbara Philipp (The Netherlands)
Doris Mayer (Austria)
Denise Pelletier (Canada)
Su Tomesen (The Netherlands)
Marilena Preda Sânc (Romania)
Émily Laliberté (Canada)
Maria Friberg (Sweden)
Mónica Mayer (Mexico)
Jurate Rekeviciute (Lithuania)
Chengyao He (China)
Mary Coble (USA)
Ryoko Suzuki (Japan)
Dorota Nieznalska (Poland)


Special:
Laura Garcia Hernandez (Mexico)

view the CV (.doc file)
" Desbordamientos de una Periferia Femenina" a book by Laura Garcia

OVERFLOWALSS OF A FEMININE PERIPHERY
This research project is a play on words (dislocated modules), women artists who have conquered spaces. In their own codes, they defy laws, denounce the unexplainable (like the women murdered in Juárez City), break icons, recuperate the street, take over walls, museums, fashion runways. The project is also an opening towards other women who have been censured or silenced because of their vast production and impact, because of the content of their work. They are brought together in this book, to give a new direction to the diversity of voices in Mexican visual arts. Painting, installations, photography, stickers, stencils, graffiti, direct action, alternative fashions, performance, curatory work, museography and public spaces are among the areas of practice that make up a fragment of the expansion of art that is carried out in Mexico today.
view the book (.pdf file)



Screening Event: November 20th
FemLink international video colage

view the presentation (.PDF file)


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