The Photographers’ Gallery presents Feminist Avant–Garde of the 1970s, an expansive exhibition comprising forty-eight international female artists and over 150 major works from the VERBUND COLLECTION in Vienna (7 October 2016 - 29 January 2017).
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. Alongside established practitioners such as VALIE EXPORT, Cindy Sherman, Francesca Woodman and Martha Rosler, the exhibition also provides a rare opportunity to discover the influential work of artists including Katalin Ladik, Nil Yalter, Birgit Jürgenssen and Sanja Iveković. Curator Gabriele Schor coined the term Feminist Avant-Garde to underline the pioneering achievements of these artists.
Focusing on photographs, collage works, performances, films and videos produced throughout the 1970s, the exhibition reflects a moment during which practices of emancipation, gender equality and civil rights protest movements became part of public discourse. Through radical, poetic, ironic and often provocative investigations, female artists were galvanised to use their work as further means of engagement – questioning feminine identities, gender roles and sexual politics through new modes of expression.
Challenging accepted social conventions including the mechanisms and male dominance of the art industry, these artists sought to reconfigure, and ultimately reshape, the prevailing iconography of ‘woman’ as passive muse surrendering to the male gaze. Operating across 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.
Feminist Avant-Garde of the 1970s is co-curated by Gabriele Schor, VERBUND COLLECTION, and Anna Dannemann, The Photographers’ Gallery.