Showcasing photos, videos and performance pieces from the feminist avant-garde of the 1970s, this exhibition at the Mumok is fascinating – and more relevant than ever.
Determined to shatter perennial clichés and redefine “the fair sex” as Women’s Lib gained traction, art’s feminist avant-garde during the 1970s was pointedly radical and unflinchingly uninhibited, attacking old mores with a zest for provocation and a tongue-in-cheek tone, as evidenced in the Mumok’s comprehensive retrospective, WOMAN.
Struggling to break into a male-dominated art world, female creators turned mostly to newer media like photography, video, film and performances to expose and deconstruct the manifold stereotypes and false expectations – recreating womenhood in their own image, disenthralled from motherhood, objectification and the normativity of beauty. Co-curated by Gabriele Schor, WOMAN showcases 300 works by 48 artists from Europe and the Americas, offering a broad mix of works by icons and lesser-known artists: Featured are photographers Cindy Sherman and Lynn Hershman Leeson (and her alter ego Roberta Breitmore); Austrian performance and video legend Valie Export and the controversial Ana Mendieta, who explored identity, violence and death by straining and mutilating her own body. Also included are Renate Bertlmann’s captivating studies of the relationship between masculine and feminine forms, as well as photographs by feminist surrealist Penny Slinger. Thus tracing the colorful pivotal years of emancipation for women artists, WOMAN serves as a compelling reminder that feminist expression reaches far beyond #hashtags and T-shirts.
Through Sep 3, mumok