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Feminist avant-garde photography exhibition

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exhibtion, photographers' gallery london, feminist avant-garde of the 1970sUnderlines the pioneering achievements of these artists as part of the history of photograhpy.

‘Feminist Avant–Garde of the 1970s’ is an expansive exhibition comprising forty-eight international female artists and over 150 major works from the VERBUND COLLECTION in Vienna and currently being shown at The Photographers’ Gallery, London.

It is a timely show that harks back to an era of true radicalism in the arts.

The exhibition is organised into four loose themes:

In ‘Domestic Agenda’ artists challenge the confines of the domestic sphere.

In her video work ‘Semiotics of the Kitchen’ (1975), Martha Rosler employs drama and parody to criticize the traditional role of the housewife.

Penny Slinger’s humorous photographic series ‘Wedding invitation (Art is just a piece of cake)’ (1975), depicts the artist dressed as a bride embedded within a wedding cake, theatrically and sarcastically linking the cutting of the wedding cake with the act of the wedding night.

In her self-portrait ‘I want out of here’ (1976) Birgit Jürgenssen expresses the desire to break out of the limiting role of the housewife.

‘The Seductive Body: Sexuality and Objectification’ brings together artists who exploit their own bodies as art material.

These include Hannah Wilke’s ‘Through the Large Glass’ (1976), featuring the artist stripping behind Duchamp’s ‘The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even’ (1915-1923); and VALIE EXPORT who presented herself and her body as a desirable and accessible object in ‘Tapp- und Tastkino’ (Tap and Touch Cinema) (1968).

Cultural ideals of beauty and body image are examined in ‘In My Skin: Normative Beauty and the Limits of the Body’.

‘Change’ (1974), by Ewa Partum, depicts a split portrait image of the artist in which one half of her face is aged using make-up techniques.

In ‘Body Halves’ (1971), Rita Myers collages together pictures of her body to create the perfect version of herself.

Others, like Ana Mendieta or Gina Pane, pushed themselves to the very limits of physical endurance, experimenting with facial and body manipulation and distorting their features through pressing them against sheets of Plexiglas or slicing their skin with razors.

‘Alter Ego: Masquerade, Parody and Self-Representation’ groups artists that analyse and deconstruct stereotypical personality manifestations and ‘systems of representation’ through role-playing and costumes.

Cindy Sherman, Suzy Lake, Alexis Hunter and Marcella Campagnano cast themselves in a variety of roles for their photographic explorations into visual representations of women in popular media.

Among the other projects is Lynn Hershman Leeson’s ‘Roberta Breitmore’ (1974-1979) in which the artist assumed an alternative identity playing to American stereotypes of the ideal woman.

The exhibition highlights groundbreaking practices that shaped the feminist art movement and provides a timely reminder of the wide impact of a generation of artists.

A gathering of still-resonant works by Martha Rosler, Cindy Sherman and Francesca Woodman, as well as the brilliantly disturbing Birgit Jürgenssen, and merging photography, performance, film and collage, this show is provocative from start to finish.

Alongside established practitioners such as VALIE EXPORT, Jürgenssen, Rosler, Sherman and Woodman the exhibition also provides a rare opportunity to discover the influential work of artists including Katalin Ladik, Nil Yalter and Sanja Iveković.

The exhibition reflects a moment during which practices of emancipation, gender equality and civil rights protest movements became part of public discourse.

Operating in both the public and personal realms – as well as using their own bodies as central motifs – these artists sought to address broad political issues and confront patriarchy and sexism in art and society.

In doing so they created new, positively assertive female identities.

At a time when protest has been all but replaced by process in an art world mesmerised by the market, this may have you wondering about the startling complacency of today’s so-called avant garde.

The 48 artists are: Lili Dujourie (b. 1941, Belgium), Letítia Parente (1930-1991, Brazil), Sanja Iveković (b. 1949, Croatia), Ana Mendieta (1948-1985, Cuba/USA), Kirsten Justesen (b. 1943, Denmark), Esther Ferrer (b. 1937, Estland), ORLAN (b. 1944, France), Gina Pane (1939-1990, France), Annegret Soltau (b. 1946, Germany), Renate Eisenegger (b. 1949, Germany), Ulrike Rosenbach (b. 1943, Germany), Marcella Campagnano (b. 1941, Italy), Ketty La Rocca (1938-1976, Italy), Margot Pilz (b. 1936, The Netherlands), Lydia Schouten (b. 1955, The Netherlands), Anneke Barger, (b. 1939, The Netherlands), Teresa Burga (b. 1935, Peru), Ewa Partum (b. 1945, Poland), Helena Almeida (b. 1934, Portugal), Katalin Ladik (b. 1942, Serbia), Nil Yalter (b. 1938, Turkey), Penny Slinger (b. 1947, UK), Judith Bernstein (b. 1942, USA), Judy Chicago (b. 1939, USA), Lynda Benglis (b. 1941, USA), Eleanor Antin (b. 1935, USA), Lynn Hershman Leeson (b. 1941, USA), Leslie Labowitz (b. 1946, USA), Rita Myers (b. 1947,USA), Lorraine O’Grady (b. 1934, USA), Carolee Schneemann (b. 1939, USA), Cindy Sherman (b. 1954, USA), Hannah Wilke (1940-1993, USA), Martha Wilson (b. 1947, USA), Francesca Woodman (1958-1981, USA), Mary Beth Edelson (b. 1933, USA), Martha Rosler (b. 1943, USA), Suzanne Lacy (b. 1945, USA), Suzy Lake (b. 1947, USA), Suzanne Santoro (b. 1946, USA), Alexis Hunter (1948-2014, USA), and Renate Bertlmann (b. 1943, Austria), Karin Mack (b. 1940, Austria), Linda Christanell (b. 1939, Austria), Friederike Pezold (b. 1945, Austria), Birgit Jürgenssen (1949-2003, Austria), Brigitte Lang (b. 1953, Austria) and VALIE EXPORT (b. 1940, Austria).

Co-curator Gabriele Schor, from the VERBUND COLLECTION, coined the term Feminist Avant-Garde to underline the pioneering achievements of these artists as part of the history of photograhpy.

Discover essays, interviews and new writings on The Photographers’ Gallery’s Blog; recent highlights include an interview with Suzanne Lacey.

Download the Timeline 1968-1980.

Contribute to Club des Femmes film script that considers how contemporary feminist cinema frames the modern woman

On 19 January at 18.30 Gabriele Schor will present an illustrated talk ‘Why it matters to call the feminist art movement of the 1970s an Avant-Garde’. She is then joined by Anna Dannemann, Curator at The Photographers’ Gallery for an in-conversation, followed by a discussion with the audience.

The exhibition runs until 29 January 2017. It contains images of an adult nature – parental/guardian guidance is advised for under-16s.

For opening times and other such info click here.

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