The Feminist Avant-Garde of the 1970s
Works from the SAMMLUNG VERBUND collection, Vienna
Museum of Modern Art, Vienna
4 May – 10 September 2017
Curated by Gabriele Schor
The Museum of Modern Art in Vienna will be showcasing Penny Slinger, Gina Pane and Ewa Partum as part of the “Feminist Avant Garde of the 1970s” exhibition recently featured at the Photographer’s Gallery in London. Curator Gabriele Schor coined the term Feminist Avant-Garde to underline the pioneering achievements of these artists, and to highlight the progressive, radically transformative vision of women’s liberation and empowerment they championed through their various practices. These artists’ works will be showcased alongside established feminist practitioners such as VALIE EXPORT, Cindy Sherman, Francesca Woodman and Martha Rosler, while in turn providing a rare opportunity to discover the influential work of artists including Katalin Ladik, Nil Yalter, Birgit Jürgenssen and Sanja Iveković.
The exhibition will include photographs, collage works, performances, films and video projects produced throughout the 1970s, drawing from an historical moment during which theories about gender equity, emancipation, and civil rights became a part of the common vernacular. The wide array of work produced by these artists provided women and the public at large with a language and medium to at once speak to and address the restrictions against women culturally, politically, creatively, and within the art market and the greater art historical canon. Through radical, poetic, and often humorous modes of inquiry and social critique, these artists assertively engaged the public, defying the ingrained assumptions about feminine subjectivity, traditional gender roles and repressive sexual politics through various modes of artistic innovation and creative expression. Their bodies, voices, and ideas are presented as authoritative, complex, imaginative, reasoned and central to their identity, practices and profession.
Often using their own bodies as central motifs and linguistic devices within their works, these artists sought to claim ownership of their narratives and experiences while simultaneously challenging the objectification and submission of women’s bodies to the male gaze and male dominance. Transgressing the boundaries of the personal and the political, the intimate and public spheres, these artists asserted themselves and their presence both literally and figuratively within the contemporary arts discourse and the political climate moreover, challenging patriarchy and sexism politically, culturally, and within an industry that often ignored or tokenized them. Their work was foundational in broadening our conceptions of gender, and in creating empowered and radical possibilities for women’s self-definition and authorship within artistic fields.