Liberté, égalité, l’art
Follow my writing in English @ https://augustaatla.substack.com
My monthly column at Kunsten.nu maps new perspectives and explore a new land of the future, in which the history of gender and gender issues are a matter of course. I wish to shed light on issues that have been hidden away in history, and outline new discoveries in art history using cases from exhibitions, new foundations, films, libraries and publications.
I also discuss the political backbone and virtues of our times in relation to the political and institutional practices of contemporary art and, in a broader context, anything that makes my heart miss a beat.
Writing in various newspapers
In 2003, when I applied for art education in London, my work was already back then about gender issues and the body as political. Throughout the years 2003-2008 I tried to develop a free art practice which did not unconsciously employ art history’s biased gender issues on the figure and the body.
In 2003-2009 I was introduced to the much loved and groundbreaking books by Linda Nochlin, Gill Perry, Griselda Pollock, Judith Butler, Whitney Chadwick and Germaine Greer.
In order to further my own art practice to not rely on the fiction of a male made art history, in 2009, I initiated a conscious research project for myself, to find out more about women artists in history, as I refused to rely on the fairytale of a purely “male” canon of art history. Frankly, I did not believe it.
The following years, especially in 2009-2016, I visited libraries and folk, cultural history, art and textile museums in Europe, and I researched online in order to dig into this forgotten and erased part of history. Since I was brought up with an art historian mother and knew from very early age the traditional canon of art, I literally and deliberately wanted to reprogram my brain.
In 2018 I made my research “public” and started the instagram profile @womenpainters as a memory board of my research about women artists.
In 2019 I came up with the idea of an issue of Magasinet Kunst (DK) devoted to women and gender issues and I was co-editor on this special women in the arts edition in 2021. The magazine also included a critical essay of mine, on the Danish art scene.
In 2020, prompted by the lack of equality in the Danish art scene, I initiated a regular series of conversations with key people – people who are working to create real change vis-à-vis gender equality among artists.
In 2020 I interviewed the art collector and patron Valeria Napoleone, and the interview was published in Magasinet Kunst, CHART Publication and Børsen.
In 2021 I interviewed Camille Morineau, an acclaimed curator and art historian, on the subject of gender equality in the world of art. In 2009-2011, Camille Morineau devised and curated the pioneering exhibition Elles@centrepompidou at the Pompidou Centre in Paris. She is also the co-founder and director of AWARE, a non-profit organisation, research centre and archiving platform that promotes work by women artists. It is crucial to talk about female artists and feminist work – they have been forgotten, they have not been heard, their works have not been shown or, as the French art historian Camille Morineau has said, “they have simply been erased from history“.
In 2022 I interviewed the Minister of Culture in Denmark on diversity in the world of visual arts in Denmark.
Gender is not just a trend that fills in gaps in the history of art, but also an essential part of art history and art theory, on equal footing with new areas of basic research that redefine the history of art – forcing it to take a long hard look at itself and its methodology.
However, all this work and research – now also published writing – is not just about changing the world or the art scene around me towards more diversity. It is indeed also for myself to keep an innovative look art history, and to feed a fresh conversation about life and identity, and very importantly to further and thrive in my own art practice, that is, an art practice which continuously and “as far as it is possible” is NOT rooted in gender discrimination.
“If you do a Gerhard Richter show, people think it will be a blockbuster. It won’t be. Whereas Hilma will. Museums at the level of program and board are suffering from being behind the times.”
Helen Molesworth, former Chief Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
“The primary ambition of AWARE is to rewrite the history of art on an equal footing. Placing women on the same level as their male counterparts and making their works known are long overdue,” states Camille Morineau on AWARE’s website
“Let’s take as our basis that men and women are equally good artists, and then say, ‘Okay, if they are equal then why is there this difference in the market?’ It starts with the galleries. They don’t represent enough women in their program. There is also a structural issue: you need to educate collectors and you need to confront them with quality.”
Marc Payot, Partner and Vice President, Hauser & Wirth
“I call bullshit on the idea that it takes a while to see change. How much more time does it take? If a new generation of art historians and curators have to be re-sensitized to this then, my God, We have amnesia at this point. It really comes down to people putting their money where their mouths are.”
Michelle Millar Fisher, Curator, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
“There is a perception that change has been so substantial, when the reality is not the case. There is such a huge imbalance that some kind of radical gesture is required.”
Jessica Morgan, Director of the Dia Art Foundation
“When it comes to silencing women, Western culture has had thousands of years of practice.”
Quote from Women & Power by Mary Beard (Professor of Classics, University of Cambridge)