Birgit Jürgenssen

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Meret Oppenheim and Her Artist Friends

MASILugano
February 11, 2017 until May 28, 2017

Meret Oppenheim (1913-1985) is a foremost twentieth-century artist, a legendary figure who achieved recognition within the male-dominated context of Surrealism, while at the same time developing her own independent research.

The aim of the Lugano exhibition is to highlight the relationship between Oppenheim and her fellow artists in the 1930s: Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Alberto Giacometti, Jean Arp, to name just a few, documented by some of their most significant works. The exhibition offers the chance to understand the young artist’s interpretation of the themes of Surrealism, and how she herself influenced the movement with her personality and her charisma.

Emerging from the works by Meret Oppenheim and her fellow artist are the themes that the artistic imaginary of the time especially focused on: dream-like fantasies and erotic aberrations; the woman as an enchanted creature or a sorceress; fetishism and the relationship with nature. In the post-war years Meret’s work was enriched by her research into abstract art, strongly influencing the following generations of artists; parallels can be drawn with the work of Daniel Spoerri and Birgit Jürgenssen, among others, as well as with contemporary artists like Robert Gober and Mona Hatoum.

Lastly, it is worth stressing that the decision to hold an exhibition of this outstanding artist in Lugano is also based on the fact that Meret Oppenheim spent long periods of time at her family home in Carona, not far from Lugano, a place she held close to her heart. 

Pro(s)thesis

Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien
xhibit, Gemäldegalerie der Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien
March 10, 2017 until May 14, 2017

The exhibition Pro(s)thesis explores the technological penetration of the human body, which has been culturally accepted in the meantime on a large scale. The field of problems opening up with this development reveals the human physique as the central medium of the access to man, its vulnerability providing the anthropological premise for the machinations of power structures.

Though the upgrade culture doubtlessly implies increasing possibilities of living one’s life in accordance with one’s wishes, it also entails the risk to assist the functionalization and reification of the human body. Considering this sufficiently postulated crisis of the human body as an opportunity offers the perspective of a room for maneuver, as suggested in posthumanist and postfeminist discourse, not least thanks to the transformative possibilities offered by biology and technology. The body is lent a self-empowering potential if regarded as a constructive component.

Relating to the collection of the Paintings Gallery, the course of contemporary art practice developing out of xhibit modulates the poetic-metaphorical potential of the prosthesis and invites to oscillate between past and present images of the body. The views of artistic practices opening up to visitors draw out and reinterpret the participation in power-structural orders, revealing the potentials behind the appearance of technical perfection.

The show focuses on feminist artworks that, with irony and humor, run counter to normative claims. Thus, the souped-up prosthesis, as an art artifact, turns into an effective sign of self-invention and self-empowerment.

Pro(s)thesis
Curators: Berenice Pahl, Felicitas Thun-Hohenstein
Architecture: Dorit Margreiter
Artists: Renate Bertlmann (AUT), Lisa Bufano (USA), Virginia Chihota (ZIM), Chitka (Anetta Mona Chişa & Lucia Tkáčová) (CZE/SVK), Erika Fransson (SWE), Kerstin von Gabain (USA/AUT), Judith Hopf (GER), Rebecca Horn (GER), Anne Imhoff (GER), Birgit Jürgenssen (AUT), Mari Katayama (JPN), Brigitte Lang (AUT), Roberta Lima (BRA/AUT), Kumi Machida (JPN), Iris L. Moore (CAN), Nadine Rennert (GER), Barbis Ruder (AUT), Toni Schmale (AUT), Anne Schneider (AUT), Evelin Stermitz (AUT), Angela Su (HKG), Viktoria Tremmel (AUT), Anna Vasof (GRC/AUT)

The Beguiling Siren is Thy Crest

MoMA Warsaw
March 25, 2017 until June 18, 2017

Those visiting the newly opened pavilion can view historic materials – works of art and artefacts – as well as creations of modern artists inspired by the mythological siren. This exhibition, the first ever of this scale to discuss the siren, aims to portray and activate her potential as a symbol. It combines different takes on hybridity, national identity and mythology.

The title of the exhibition is a quote from a poem by Cyprian Kamil Norwid (one of the great Polish romantic poets), who addresses Warsaw by means of a personal invocation (“capital of my youth…”) and formulates a reminder that the mythological siren was originally a dangerous hybrid of a human and animal (specifically a bird with a woman’s head), that lured sailors to their doom. The poet calls upon the origins of Warsaw’s coat of arms to explain his multifaceted relationship with the city. This quote proved deeply inspiring to the exhibition’s creators.

Depictions of the siren have changed so often over the centuries, that the one thing they all have in common seems to be her dualistic, hybrid nature: she is both human and animal. Appearing on Warsaw’s medieval coat of arms is – surprisingly – a half-man, half-dragon figure. The image of the fish-woman became prevalent as late as the beginning of the 18th century. The exhibition focuses on this diversity of forms.

The Mermaid of Warsaw is a symbol that doesn’t bind forcefully, but organises the community while allowing it to remain diverse.

The exhibition features the works of the following artists:
Korakrit Arunanondchai, Evelyne Axell, Alex Baczyński-Jenkins, Zdzisław Beksiński, Louise Bourgeois, Eugène Brands, Agnieszka Brzeżańska, Bernard Buffet, Claude Cahun, Liz Craft, Edith Dekyndt, Christian Dietrich, Leo Dohmen, Drexcyia i Abdul Qadim Haqq, Elmgreen & Dragset, Leonor Fini, Ellen Gallagher, Malarz Goltyr, Justyna Górowska, Zdzisław Jasiński, Dorota Jurczak, Ewa Juszkiewicz, Birgit Jürgenssen, Tobias Kaspar, Marek Kijewski, Aldona Kopkiewicz i Mateusz Kula, Łukasz Korolkiewicz, Gina Litherland, Jacek Malczewski, Witek Orski, Sylvia Palacios Whitman, Pablo Picasso, Krzysztof Pijarski, Aleka Polis, Agnieszka Polska, Karol Radziszewski, Joanna Rajkowska, Carol Rama, Erna Rosenstein, Tejal Shah, Franciszek Siedlecki, Tomasz Sikorski, Penny Slinger, Juliana Snapper, Franz von Stuck, project „Warsaw’s Sirens” (Jacek Łagowski, Danuta Matloch, Katarzyna Opara), Alina Szapocznikow, Stanisław Szukalski, Jerzy Bohdan Szumczyk, Wacław Szymanowski, Dorothea Tanning, Wolfgang Tillmans, Tunga, Anne Uddenberg, Aleksandra Waliszewska, Wojciech Wilczyk, Hannah Wilke, Ming Wong, Marcelo Zammenhoff, Anna Zaradny, Artur Żmijewski.

WOMAN

FEMINIST AVANTGARDE in the 1970s from the SAMMLUNG VERBUND Collection

mumok
May 6, 2017 until September 3, 2017

mumok is presenting more than 300 artworks from the SAMMLUNG VERBUND collection that show how women artists in the 1970s first began to collectively redefine their own “image of woman.” As this significant artistic movement has been neglected in art histories to date, the collection director, Gabriele Schor, coined the term ”feminist avant-garde” and introduced it into art-historical discourse—with the aim of highlighting these artists’ pioneering work. Schor thus extended the avantgarde canon hitherto dominated by men.

In the 1970s women artists emancipated themselves from the roles of muse and model, rejecting their status as objects in order to assert themselves as subjects actively participating in social and political processes. One-dimensional role ascriptions as mothers, homemakers, or wives were radically challenged—often using irony. Key themes were female sexuality, women’s own bodies, clichés and stereotypical images of women, the dictate of beauty, and violence against women. The women artists of this generation were united in their committed rejection of traditional normative notions, even if they did not all know each other.

At a time when civil rights and women’s movements were gaining ground, women’s issues were increasingly the subject of public debate. One important slogan was “the private is political,” gaining women and their quasi-private concerns greater influence and resonance in public life. They set up feminist networks, organized exhibitions, wrote manifestoes, and founded numerous journals and magazines. In their art, they made strategic use of historically “untainted” media such as photography, video, and film. Performances and actions were also preferred means of expression—as a contrast to the male-dominated genre of painting.

The exhibition shows works by 47 European, North American and South American women artists, including Eleanor Antin, Helena Almeida, Lynda Benglis, Renate Bertlmann, Lynda Christanell, Lili Dujourie, VALIE EXPORT, Sanja Ivekovic, Birgit Jürgensson, Ketty La Rocca, Karin Mack, Ana Mendieta, Rita Myers, Orlan, Gina Pane, Ewa Partum, Margot Pilz, Ulrike Rosenbach, Martha Rosler, Carolee Schneemann, Cindy Sherman, Hannah Wilke und Martha Wilson.

Curated by Gabriele Schor (director, SAMMLUNG VERBUND) and Eva Badura-Triska (mumok curator)