Vienna exhibition explores gender in art

16th November 2009, Comments 0 comments

Starting from the "genderless" society of Social Realism of the 1960s where both male and female workers were portrayed as heroic figures, it traces a chronological path through changing perceptions of masculinity and femininity.

Vienna -- A major new exhibition opened in the Austrian capital's MUMOK Museum of Modern Art Friday exploring the role of gender in art from eastern Europe since the 1960s.

With more than 400 works -- including painting, sculpture, photography, installation, posters, film and video -- by more than 200 artists, the show, entitled "Gender Check", examines the way the masculine and feminine has been portrayed in both official and unofficial art from the former communist bloc over the past 50 years.

Starting from the "genderless" society of Social Realism of the 1960s where both male and female workers were portrayed as heroic figures, it traces a chronological path through changing perceptions of masculinity and femininity, in both official and unofficial art, in subsequent decades, through the fall of communism in 1989 and up until the present day.

As communist societies became more liberalised in the 1970s, gender roles began to be reassessed outside of the propagandistic cliches of the past.

Heterosexual norms and heroic ideals of masculinity were increasingly called into question. And with the fall of the Wall in 1989, and the growing influence of consumerism from the West, new artistic freedoms were found, allowing a critique of chauvinist, militaristic, misogynist and xenophobic ideologies.

Curator Bojana Pejic said the exhibition was the result of several years of research by 25 experts from 24 different countries.

Among the exhibits, Russian photographer Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe depicts himself as Marilyn Monroe, in a low-cut black dress, a platinum blonde wig, thick make-up and bright red lipstick, but complete with prominent Adam's apple.

German photographer Cornelia Schleime, born in the former East Germany in 1953, uses the mass of papers and documents compiled by the infamous Stasi secret police who tracked her to recreate the regime's "official" view of her life and biography, and interspersed it with her personal photos.

The exhibition runs until February 14.

AFP/Expatica

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