reboot: Equality, Diversity, and Solidarity in the Art World
Thursday, October 7, 2021
Lectures and dialogues by and with Michael Annoff, Maximiliane Baumgartner, Madeleine Bernstorff, Gürsoy Doğtaş, Pary El-Qalqili, Ewa Majewska, Stephanie Marchal, Chus Martínez, Nadine Oberste-Hetbleck, Bahareh Sharifi and Brigitte Sölch
A cooperation between the Department for Art History and the Marie Jahoda Center For International Gender Studies (MaJaC), Ruhr-University Bochum and reboot: responsiveness, Kölnischer Kunstverein and Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf
Organized by Eva Birkenstock, Nikola Dietrich, Viktor Neumann and Änne Söll
It has been 100 years since women were admitted to state art academies, thus marking a milestone within the long struggle for professionalization of female artists in Germany. Femininity continues to function as one of many, often intersecting, hierarchizing and exclusionary categories that have always been established and constructed in transnational art institutions. While a continuous increase in the presence of women at German art academies can be noted from the 1950s onward, their discrimination in the art world persisted. In response, part of the 1970s women’s movement—along with its allies from other freedom movements—dedicated itself both theoretically and artistically to combating institutionalized gender inequality; from the beginning, Black women along with women of color underscored the intersectionality of structural mechanisms of exclusion. While studies show minimal changes in parity within the field of contemporary art since the 1990s, inequalities remain ubiquitous. To what extent the women’s or gender-equality officers intended in all German states can transform the art system remains an open-ended question. The persisting patriarchal, anti-social, and racist structures and resulting power imbalances only reluctantly destabilize the myth of the—white, heterosexual, cisgender, and ‘capable’—male genius in all areas of the field.The symposium will analyze causes of intersecting power structures and mechanisms of exclusion and discuss proposals to overcome them. How can the art world achieve an equality that considers factors such as migration and educational background, sexual orientation, and physical and neural difference from the very beginning?
The event will kick off on October 7, 2021, at the Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf. The temporal and thematic framework of the symposium will be introduced by a screening of the suffragette movement at the beginning of the 20th century, compiled and commented by Madeleine Bernstorff, as well as a keynote lecture by the feminist philosopher and author Ewa Majewska. Based on the Guerilla Girls’ actions for equality in art institutions, Majewska will present current strategies of resistance as tested and practiced by art institutions in Poland. She proposes to avoid simplistic conceptions of parity in favor of urgent intersectional and decolonial perspectives.
The second part of the symposium will take place on October 8, 2021, at the Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne and will bring together lectures and dialogues between thinkers, artists, and cultural practitioners. The first block will be devoted to historical excursions on the processes, problems, and potentials of equality in the art world: Brigitte Sölch (University of Heidelberg) will shed light on the situation of female art historians around 1900 and present the DFG network “Women Art Historians before 1970.” Nadine Oberste-Hetbleck (University of Cologne) will provide insight into the holdings of the Central Archive of the International Art Trade. The artist Maximiliane Baumgartner will talk about exclusions from the canon and trans-temporal solidarizations. In a second block, Stephanie Marchal (Ruhr-Universität Bochum) uses the example of art criticism, while Chus Martínez (FHNW Basel) examines institutionalized inequalities based on artistic training, to consider art historical revisions and structural transformations. In a concluding block moderated by Gürsoy Doğtaş (University of Applied Arts Vienna), curator Michael Annoff, director Pary El-Qalqili, and Diversity Arts Culture program director Bahareh Sharifi describe how discrimination is interconnected, critically question the art system’s notion of diversity, and discuss the need for an institutional code of conduct and further structural changes.
Thursday, October 7, 2021, 6 – 9 pm, Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf
6 pm, Welcome
Eva Birkenstock (Director Ludwig Forum, Aachen / reboot: responsiveness) and Änne Söll (art historian, Ruhr University Bochum)
6:15 pm, Screening with commentary, in German
Suffragettes at the Kunstverein
Madeleine Bernstorff (film curator, author, educator, cultural producer)
“At the beginning of the 20th century, the First Women’s Movement with its demands for women’s suffrage also became visible in the new medium of cinema. In the streets of the cities, the suffragette movement had become perceptible as a social force that provoked great fears and no longer seemed tamable: women, often sheltered members of the bourgeoisie, were organizing themselves and demanding to participate in democratic processes! By 1913, more than 1000 suffragettes were in prison for their political struggles. In addition to caricatures in the print media, newsreels and comedies were produced that caricatured the suffragettes’ emancipation movements in an ambivalence of subversion and affirmation. Under the cover of comic non-reality, comedies played out a breakdown of gender and class order.”
The following three films mentioned in the lecture are available online:
Director: George D. Baker | A: Flora Finch, John Bunny
Production: Vitagraph Company of America | USA 1913
FLM52849 | Film from the collection of EYE (Amsterdam) – https://www.eyefilm.nl/
A SUFFRAGETTE INSPITE OF HIMSELF
Director: Bannister Merwin | A: Miriam Nesbitt, Ethel Browning, Marc McDermott, Production: Edison GB 1912
CUNÉGONDE REÇOIT SA FAMILLE
Director: unknown | Production: Lux (France) | France | 1912 |
FLM13828 | Film from the collection of EYE (Amsterdam) – https://www.eyefilm.nl/en
Thanks to EYE Filmmmuseum (Elif Rongen, Marleen Labijt) and the Kinemathek Hamburg, Thomas Pfeiffer.
7:30 pm, Keynote, in English
Parity? Yes, but with bubbles. Or: why intersectional and decolonial perspectives will make the art sector more egalitarian
Ewa Majewska (feminist philosopher, author, activist)
“In my presentation, I will follow the gender equality in art institutions query made by the Guerrilla Girls and presented at the Whitechapel Gallery in London in 2016. Starting with their poster revealing that 9 out of 10 major state sponsored art institutions in Poland are run by women (!!!), I will discuss the issue of center/periphery and gender equality, the issues arising with the efforts to build intersectional strategies in art institutions, especially in the context of art collections—some museums in Poland discuss displaying ethnic minorities and the art made by/ about the LGBTQ+ artists and groups as well. I would like to investigate some problems of flat understandings of parity, particularly in the context of non-binary and LGBTQ+ persons, ethnic and class divisions. I will also discuss the wider context — gender inequality in art schools, media attitudes and other factors, emphasizing the necessity of intersectional and decolonial perspectives for a better theory and practice of equality.”
Moderation: Eva Birkenstock and Viktor Neumann (independent curator / reboot: responsiveness)
Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne and Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf jointly announce the launch of reboot: – a collaborative, multi-cycle, anti-racist, and queer-feminist dialogue encompassing performance and research based practices.
The first cycle, reboot: responsiveness, departs from desires, anxieties and hopes amplified by the current pandemic. Hosted in two different yet aligned sites that mutually interact with one another as much as they support, complement and challenge each other, reboot: responsiveness provides infrastructures for provisional stagings, rehearsals, processual choreographies, and encounters around notions of presence, intimacy, care, and responsibility. reboot: responsiveness develops activities together with a core collective comprised of Alex Baczynski-Jenkins, Gürsoy Doğtaş, Klara Lidén, Ewa Majewska, Rory Pilgrim, Cally Spooner, and Mariana Valencia. Embracing diverse formats, and working together with further invited guests and audiences in Cologne and Düsseldorf, these artists and thinkers will explore ways to dedicate time to one another and to perform in time, to develop alternative vocabularies, archives, gestures, movements, and translations, to share and transmit resources and ideas, and to find modes of resistance and togetherness in response to the current situation we are living in.
Conceived by Eva Birkenstock, Nikola Dietrich, and Viktor Neumann
Core Collective: Alex Baczynski-Jenkins, Gürsoy Doğtaş, Klara Lidén, Ewa Majewska, Rory Pilgrim, Cally Spooner, and Mariana Valencia
Graphic design by Sean Yendrys
reboot: responsiveness is supported by