Invitation to a press conference | The Medea Insurrection. Radical Women Artists Behind the Iron Curtain

28 November 2018

[Translate to English:] Medea 1

Medea: femme fatale and überwoman from the east. An escape into mythology? Not with her! In the years before 1989, writers and painters in East Germany often turned to ancient scenes when they wanted to express a lack of freedom.

  • DATES 08/12/2018—31/03/2019

[Translate to English:] Medea 1.2

The artists presented here – all of whom came to maturity on the socialist side of the Iron Curtain – interpreted female figures such as Medea, Cassandra and Penthesilea as contemporary images of women in the broadest sense. Under the cloak of the accepted artistic media, they provoked, protested, played with fire and experimented, baring themselves and their rage whilst refusing socialist and bourgeois role models alike. With this double refusal they were exposing themselves on the whole to more risk than their male colleagues. Until today, many of the works shown at the exhibition “The Medea Insurrection. Radical Women Artists Behind the Iron Curtain” remain largely unknown. In the present moment, when there is a call for the public visibility of art from the time before 1989, this lack of recognition is particularly apparent. Medea steps in as a corrective.

[Translate to English:] Medea 2

To gain a thorough understanding of the singularity of these artistic responses to authoritarian dictates, it is not sufficient to make sole reference to the East German context, charged as it is with its own contemporary history, nor is it adequate to simply draw comparisons to the post-1945 Western art canon. Now the time has come to consider this art within the broader context of the East: “The Medea Insurrection” examines those territories with socialist structures where the conditions for freedom in artistic practice (or a lack thereof) resembled those in East Germany. A readiness to take risks, a talent for improvisation, self-irony, categorical reinterpretation of classical materials and motifs: These are by far not the only connecting points between Magdalena Abakanowicz (PL) and Christa Jeitner, between Katalin Ladik (HU) and Gabriele Stötzer, between Zorka Saglova (CZ) and Else Gabriel, between Zofia Rydet (PL) and Gundula Schulze Eldowy, between Geta Bratescu (RO) and Christine Schlegel.

Foto einer wütenden älteren Frau
© Gundula Schulze Eldowy, Foto: Stefanie Recsko
Gundula Schulze Eldowy, Berlin 1987, aus dem Zyklus: Der große und der kleine Schritt (1984–1990) Förderankauf des Freistaates Sachsen 1998, Kunstfonds, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden

[Translate to English:] Medea 3

“Medea” kicks back against the forgetfulness of recent art history and the marginalization of female perspectives. Far from gestures of victimhood and scenarios of resentment, the special exhibition celebrates strength, self-assurance, resilience and, above all, artistic quality.

Presenting thirty-six national and international female artists and artist groups, the exhibition developed by the Albertinum of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden will run from 8 December 2018 to 31 March 2019 at the Kunsthalle im Lipsiusbau. In addition to painting, photography and media art, it will feature textile works and works on paper as well as performances and installations.

Extensive public programming will accompany the exhibition, including performances by Ewa Partum (PL) and Katalin Ladik (HU), a short-film night at the Lipsiusbau on 21 December 2018, an evening dedicated to the history of the East Berlin fashion collective Allerleirauh as well as an international colloquium. A 250-page catalogue in English and German will be published by Verlag Walter König, containing contributions by Susanne Altmann, Marie Klimesova, Kata Kraznahorkai, Emese Kürti and further authors.

The SKD will communicate on social media with the hashtags #medeamucktauf, #medeasinsurrection, #albertinum and #skdmuseum on social media.

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