7. October – 5. November 2021
Extended gallery, passage of cinema Komuna, Tomšičeva ulica 2, Ljubljana
Authors: Tina Konec, Agate Lielpetere, Sara Rman
Curator: Teja Kosi
While the time of the global pandemic threw the world of its axle and transformed the familiar everyday life, leading to increased violence towards and sacrificing of women, the current »disaster patriarchy” continues to use the crisis as a means to re-establish control, dominance and the erasure of the hard-won women’s rights. In spite of this patriarchal machine, powered by the current crisis, a diagnosis has long since been established through statistics: within the field of the arts, only 11,2% of all the recipients of the prestigious Prešeren awards have been women, with 82,5% of them working on the stage or in front of a camera. It was the consideration of personal stories and positions of female visual artists from the youngest, post-transition generation – born in the 1990ies, which has also been hit hardest by the general precarization of life, that served as a starting point for the group exhibition “The Glass Ceiling”.
The metaphor of a glass ceiling was invented in the 1970ies, and serves to represent all those invisible obstacles, composed of prejudice and stereotypes, which impede the advancement and progress for women. Often, the perpetuation of gender dynamics is not a matter of open misogyny, but of a culture of norms and messages, soaked with the social gender. Subtly yet fundamentally, these shape the rules of engagement and involvement, while society as a whole – through years of socialization – teaches us to disregard female expertise and perspectives. It is exactly the symptoms and traces of this invisible structural and symbolic violence, that can be found in the drawings, paintings and installations included in the exhibition.
In her diptych painting “Three young women contemplating about the prosperity of their careers”, Agate Lielpetere draws upon the myth of success, and its proclamation that hard work allows us to achieve anything. With her idiosyncratic humour and a touch of irony, she points to the discrepancy between the myth, and a reality in which success is conditioned upon social structures and mechanisms. An important place is also held by the demands for clearly defined roles and attributes – such as emotionality and motherhood, shown by that well-known subtextual stage for the political, “the people’s opinion”.
Similar questions of intimate and socio-political positions of female artists are posed by Tina Konec, as she explores the oeuvres and life circumstances of exceptional female artists and scientists, who remain noted in (art) history. Expressed in her recognizable ink on paper drawings, the portraits of the two chosen artists Artemisio Gemtileschi and Yayoi Kusama, as well as the actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr are covered by the boughs and canopies of trees, alluding to the “nature” of a successful female (artist, scientist): obedient, modest, kind, diligent. The protagonists of these drawing thereby appear not only as the bearers of personal, but wider collective stories.
In her series “Settled Disorder” (2018 –) Sara Rman tests the capacities and expressive abilities of materials, transforming them from two-dimensional matter into three-dimensional objects. She pays particular attention to the process of creating artworks, filled with bending, flexing and constant adaptation, which can be understood as a metaphor for modes of production and strategies of survival in the art system. The blurring of work and leisure, the perpetual (unpaid) acquiring of references, the insecurity and burnout have all come to form a part of training in adaptation – to a system that limits one’s potential. The artists emphasize how the precarious working conditions make it necessary that – alongside experimenting with and bending of materials, one must bend oneself, the human capital.
The Glass Ceiling exhibition offers only a few thought fragments by young female artists, reflecting the societal expectations, demands and obstacles they must contend with. The exhibited works offer us an insight into the conditions the chosen artists live and work in, alongside the relations of power, which – due to the deeply rooted gender class, often remain invisible. With the aim of both symbolic and concrete transparency, this unfinished status report will be displayed outside conventional gallery spaces. The transparent shopping windows allow for viewings regardless of the ever-shifting pandemic regulations, while being accessible and attention-grabbing even for the passers-by, who would normally never even think of visiting a gallery or art institution; many of which keep glass ceilings of their own.
Agate Lielpetere (1995) is a visual artist and illustrator, living and working in Ljubljana. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in graphic art from the Latvian Academy of Arts. To date, she has held three individual exhibitions in Riga and Ljubljana, while also participating in numerous international group exhibitions. She is intrigued by the irony of life and claims her bad sense of humour runs in the family.
Tina Konec (1992) is a drawing artist and PhD student of humanities and social sciences. She is a recipient of numerous awards (among others the Piran Ex-tempore Grand Prix in 2018 and the Prešeren Award of the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana). She actively participates in individual and group exhibitions both in Slovenia and internationally, while continuing her theoretical and practical research of the development of drawing and its many layers.
Sara Rman (1992) is concluding her MA degree in photography at the Academy of Fine Art and Design in Ljubljana. In 2017, her BA thesis work “A Free Spirit” was awarded the Exceptional Student Achievement Award 2016/2017. Her work has been featured as independent and group exhibitions in both Slovenia and internationally. In her artistic practice, she dedicates special attention to the artistic process, turning two-dimensional materials into three-dimensional objects.
Produced by: Luka Piškorič and Eva Matjaž
Technical support: Fabrikaid
Design: Agate Lielpetere
Exhibition space: Extended gallery
Photos: Mankica Kranjec
Municipality of Ljubljana