Cordially invited to the exhibition opening on Tuesday, 8th of March at 8pm in the Alkatraz Gallery.You are also invited to take part in the rest of the program of 12. International Feminist and Queer Festival Red Dawns organized by cultural association KUD Mreža.
Curators of the exhibition: Jadranka Ljubičič and Ana Grobler
Illustration is a medium used by many female painters to enable the women to survive in art. It used to be the market gap for female artists as the field of the “artistic” had been taken and controlled by their male colleagues that had been better accepted in it and had also gained more recognition.
Despite the contemporary multi-disciplinarity of male and female artists, the expert domain still considers illustration as something secondary and not ultimately artistic. Similar understanding applies to design; should a female or male artist evolve from the field of design, the label “artistic” tends to slip away for the description of their entire opus. Such generalization does not always prove appropriate as there are artists currently getting involved in various projects, also such with an obvious artistic engagement – it is the content invested into their works and their attitude that matter. Reflections on art and the current society can be – regardless of the discipline of its execution, artistic.
The exhibition at the Alkatraz Gallery, deals with the status of women in the society and emphasizes the critique of stereotypical depiction of female images and roles, exposes illustration as the “real” artwork. It negates the stand towards illustration as Secondary, overseen in the relation to art and defined as a deviation, reconstructing its importance as equal to painting. Simone de Beauvoir has, in her book ”The Second Sex” written: »One is not born a woman, but becomes one. Considering her most famous quote, the exhibition wishes to turn over the understanding of illustration.
Alenka Sottler is a recognized illustrator who has received many prizes and awards for her works. Quite deliberately she always inserts critique of contemporary society and relations into her illustrations. The artist also creates works that are not based on orders; and there she ever again conceives new, innovative and creative solutions, speaking primarily about the economy of consumer system that surrounds us. These are critical, but rarely exhibited works with a subtle and refined sense of humour and cynicism. At the Alkatraz Gallery there will be several of her illustrations on display. The illustrations for a book of a French poet Malcolm de Chazal depict women in various situations and positions. The letters in the illustrations represent texts by an existentialistic philosopher Henri-Louis Bergson.
In two of them the two depicted naked female figures hold a silhouette of the lower part of a female figure (up to the waistline) as if they are putting it on as an article of clothing. Their content decisively outlines the fact that the importance of appearance has become too-big-a-burden and concern. One of the images depicts a female figure frontally, putting on “buttocks”. The viewer is faced with a question concerning the importance and perception of female body in the society. »Are tits and bum staring at the viewer the only physical attributes determining a woman?«
The next illustration – a handbag that outgrows the woman in the background by its size - surely points out the over-burdenness with being busy. Proposals for a graphic work EX Libris for Slovenian Word, (print on paper, coated with white tempera paint), depict a woman with a vacuum cleaner between the letters. In palimpsestic manner, the letters are coated and superimposed several times, blurred and added anew, representing intellectual work. The message of all the proposals is clear; women intellectuals are nevertheless still women and household chores belong to female tasks and duties. Even though emancipation has brought new opportunities it has not wiped out the old rules, resulting in a doubly burdened women.
Household chores are only one of the voluntary unpaid chores in the life of a woman. A duo called Lukatarina (Katarina Mrvar and Luka Mancini) speaks about love and serving as women’s tasks. Their digitally supported illustration DeSACRARIUM, the Loves and Passions of a Cosmic Woman, placed above a female image on a crucifix, bears the inscription »Love all, serve all« in the manner of altar icons. The expression of the depicted woman shows panic, hysterical overburdenness with ever new demands the environment expects from the woman. The authors have taken the content primarily form the images of mass media and pop culture and used it in the manner of pop art, the manner in which the society glorifies, recycles and co-creates the image of a contemporary woman. They have been very successful as the images provoke resistance in the viewer. The position, the image and relation towards the woman in society is what they are interested in. They illustrate them by two mutually intertwined aspects. The first one is the woman as the archetype of the mother who protects and represents support, leading them to the Saint Mary, the personification of chastity. The other, in mass media incessantly used aspect is the one of the woman as an object attracting the looks and attention, serving as a tool in the marketing of mass consumption products. Various details in the illustration illuminate numerous nuances of the situation, each of them bringing to awareness a new aspect of abuse of the woman and her body for advertising and ideological purposes.
Kiki Omerzel shows the results of these impossible demands on a female body with Mona, (acrylic on canvas). The aged Mona Liza of Leonardo da Vinci who was looking for the ideal woman in the look, smile and gestures shows its complete opposition. This is a sad and embittered old woman that has never in her life done anything according to her own will, but has, instead, only followed the instructions of the world surrounding her. This is a portrait of a woman, the sagging silicon breasts alluding that she cannot come to terms with herself and her age. Contemporary society only supports the cult of a young body, leaving no room for individuals who are – according to their physical looks, psychological state and capacity over 30. The struggle for perfection leads to dissatisfaction as the demands for the appearance the body cannot fulfil create inner conflicts. Mona shows the trap a person can be caught in when he/she swaps the meaning of life with the hound for success and popularity at any cost.
The solution of the situation may be offered by the author’s Purushas. More than just resembling pudenda, disclosing the soft tissue; the paintings unveil the look at the Essential. The contact with the Essential brings about the discovery of the inner strength, usually covered by entangled thoughts, memories and perceptions, caused by the limiting environment, prescribing its rules. Alenka Sottler’s illustrations in the book Prividi (Mirages) brings an affirmative message. White and black tempera on paper paints a landscape of perfect hills with female figures sitting on their tops. The ratio of the size between the hill and the female figure is similar to the ration between a breast and its nipple. Here, the women are the ones taking over the hills, they have, once again become the masters and the owners of the hill (their body) and claim their power back.
Ana Grobler & Jadranka Ljubičič