This past September I went to Sweden for the first time, on the occasion of the exhibition WOMAN at Mjellby Konstmuseum. For three years I‘ve been working for the corporate art collection SAMMLUNG VERBUND, of the Austrian electricity company VERBUND in Vienna. Since the 1970s, we collect art with two main focuses, The Feminist Avant-Garde and Spaces/Places. The first one now includes more than 500 works by female artists from the 1970s. As we do not have our own exhibition room we are showing our exhibitions in the staircase of our corporate headquarters (we call it the „Vertical Gallery“) or we cooperate with national and international museums. When we heard about the possibility to work together with a museum in Sweden, we did not think twice and started to conceptualize the exhibition!
It quickly became clear that we couldn’t show all of our 500 works. Thus we concentrated on the photographs and videos of the female artists who focused on the question how women would like to present their selves and how they would like to get perceived. Birgit Jürgenssen, Martha Rosler and Penny Slinger struggled against the traditional view of the woman as a housewife. Cindy Sherman, Martha Wilson and Eleanor Antin transformed themselves into different characters and showed the numerous and variable roles of a woman (and men). Rita Myers and Ewa Partum dealt with the themes of beauty and the age of women. VALIE EXPORT and Renate Bertlmann worked on the sexuality of women.
While walking through the exhibition at Mjellby Konstmuseum, you quickly realize that the 1970s was an exciting decade. The female artists highlighted issues which were essential and paved the way for the life of the “modern woman” of today. I believe that the exhibition represents the fact really well. It’s also worth mentioning that exclusively women – with one exception –are working at Mjellby Konstmuseum: from the director, the art pedagogue, the exhibition producer to the technician. I was lucky to meet some of these “power women”, who had the energy to show me around Halmstad after an exhausting exhibition installation!
Curatorial Assistant, SAMMLUNG VERBUND, Vienna