She BAM! What about Women in Art?


The representation of female artists is still a problem. She BAM! has been founded by Laetitia Gorsy who consciously advocates representation for female artists with her gallery She BAM!. The gallery is located at the Leipziger Baumwollspinnerei and does pop-up in different cities as well. She BAM! aims to work with women artists, creative women, collectors, curators, other gallery owners and all people who support women in arts.

Some facts that are in need to be changed! She BAM! is a very precisely curated gallery space in which artistic practices in diversity find unity and at the same time enable a discourse about the actual art market. A conversation about women in Arts.

von Laura Gerstmann

She BAM!’s gallerist Laetitia Gorsy

A lot has happened in the last five years, especially in the institutional area. The long overdue museum rehabilitation of the representation of female artists has taken place. For example, Maria Balshaw, director of the Tate Britain, announced that she would only be showing works by women in the Collection of Art from 1960 from April for at least a year. At the auctions 2018 was a record year for women. The most expensive living artist Jenny Saville earned 12.4 Million Dollars at Sotheby’s in London with her work “Popped”; which is nothing compared to David Hockney. The most expensive living male artist generated a value of 80 million dollars with “Portrait of an Artists (Pool with tow Figures)”.

Only a brief look at the numbers reveals to everyone to what extent the price categories between gender differ. All the while the first person who painted an abstract picture was a woman, the swedish painter Hilma af Klint. She created her first abstract painting in 1906. Four years before Wassily Kadinsky is said to have painted his first abstract masterpiece to 1910. Probably he painted it in 1913. It disappeared, so no one will know. But only Wassily, not Hilma, receives recognition.

Exhibition View, Paulina Semkowicz, « Bathingsuit and Surroundings », August 2019

VASiSTAS
You originally come from France, how did you get to Leipzig? As a curator or as an artist? What was your practice?

Laetitia Gorsy
At this time, I came to Leipzig, after applying for a residency called One-Sided Story, which were located at the 3rd floor of the Halle 14, in the Baumwollespinnerei. That was just after getting my diploma in graphic design at the art school of Strasbourg. The studies were more like artistic research between visual communication and personal practice. I was very interested in making self-published editions with images, photographs, illustrations, and texts. I considered at this moment my books as small nomad galleries in which pages were my walls. I explored the possibilities of narration and rhythm through the pages as space. I self-published my books, besides this, I was collaborating in that direction with other artists as well. That was maybe how I started to be interested in curatorial research.

VASiSTAS
So the idea of an own gallery came up?

Laetitia Gorsy
A bit later. First, after my studies, I lived between Paris and Strasbourg working for a fashion magazine as an art director besides my personal practice. It was actually my first serious job but I thought I had to move on to discover a bit more the world… I had a friend in Leipzig and I heard about the city, so I decided to go there and check out what was possible. I found this residency and went for the adventure with under my arm, very small luggage. That was, at first, planned for a couple of months.

Dorothée Louise Recker, Mais le soleil ne le sait pas, 2019, oil on canvas, 150 x 150 cm

VASiSTAS
And how long did you stay in Leipzig / How long did the residency take part? 

Laetitia Gorsy
I was supposed to stay for three months, but then I stayed a bit longer and longer with go and back between France and Germany. At this moment, I learned to know Fugitif, a French-German residency program based in Leipzig. I started to be seriously involved there and through Fugitif, I wrote down a large curatorial program and won a grant from the cultural ministry and the OFAJ-DFJW for the 50th anniversary of the Elysée-Vertrag to realize it. That was sort of a cultural program, with 5 different workshops in France and in Germany covering topics such as anonymous art and pop imagery. I did this for one year living between France and Germany.

After this, I started to work for a French gallery that opened in the Spinnerei area. I managed the gallery for a couple of years. I was also part of the Cultures of the Curatorial’s program at the HGB and wrote articles for the French magazine Konbini. Then the gallery brutally closed and after a short retreat to Greece, that was the right moment to launch She BAM!.

Opening of “Permanence” – collaborative exhibition, May 2019 – pict. Enrico Meyer

VASiSTAS
She BAM! represents only female artists, how did that idea come up?

Laetitia Gorsy
The idea has been thoroughly reflected and came up during my last experience as a gallery manager, where we represented a lot of male artists, not only, but that was very determinant. They were really nice and I liked some of them, don’t get me wrong. But there was something quite unbalanced that I could also analyze more largely in the art world. Should we be ok with that? There are just, for me, too many male artists and male positions are monopole of the representation. After a couple of times, I was definitely convinced that it was not due to a lack of women artists in the art world but more due to some conscious choices and a systemic problem.

I am now creating She BAM! mostly to bring up an idea of a balance through a provocative position. That’s simply a fact, there is no equality between women and men in the arts, such as in lots of other different domains. Empowering women artists underlines the fact that there is an important issue to solve which is worth to be defunded and dismantled.

 

“She BAM! also develops a studio design section and offers art consulting.”

 

Dorothée Louise Recker, Performance « Transition », June 2019

VASiSTAS
And for you it was important that it will be a gallery?

Laetitia Gorsy
Yes, I wanted it to be a gallery with windows in France and in Germany. I come from underground organizations and I still appreciate to dive into unconventional   formats but I was also seriously managing a commercial gallery where I was not the owner for a couple of years. I am excited to launch my own gallery space with my rules and that’s very challenging. It’s great to jump into the cold water and try to get warm. I was happy to build my own program, where I am able to diffuse artworks in good conditions and creating a self-economy is important in respect of my desire for autonomy and independency.

Anna Nero ,Moonshine (Cellini), 2019, oil acrylic and marker on canvas, 180 x 130 cm

 

“She BAM! is a gallery space very precisely curated where artistic practices find unicity in their diversity”

 

VASiSTAS
Is it important to insist on the fact that you are a gallery exclusively representing women artists practices ?

Laetitia Gorsy
At the starting point, I was hesitating. Should I make it a topic or not? Yes of course, and when I started to talk about it around me I also recognized that the people wanted to hear more about it, people were curious and excited that a gallery sitting on the art market is actually defending a civic cause. I saw that some people could identify themself with the concept, or that they wanted to support it as a political issue. I decided then to openly communicate and not to act like  everything was «normal». I am doing that space dedicated to women practices and it can be said. I support women’s artistic engagement and fight with them to be represented and to be much more considered. Why should it be kept non-said?

VASiSTAS
And are there also men who try to get in touch with She Bam!?

Laetitia Gorsy
Yes, but that’s obviously just not the right place for them. Art History has been written from a male perspective as we know, so they achieved enough place on earth to do exhibitions. She BAM! is dedicated to women artists exclusively.

Exhibition view, Céline Le Gouail, « This Very Long Wait », June 2019

VASiSTAS
Does art has a gender ?

Laetitia Gorsy
I can’t answer that question, yes, no,  maybe… I don’t know. When I see an art piece or a practice it talks to me or not, and that has nothing to do with pure gender. The idea of gender has nothing to do with your own intuitive approach and direct feeling of an art piece. Gender is a political and a social issue more than only an idea of an identity. It’s definitely something interesting, important and also difficult to discuss.

 

“She BAM! enables a discourse about the actual art market.”

 

VASiSTAS
How do you handle the showroom? 

Laetitia Gorsy
At the moment, the space itself is very tiny, 18m2, no windows, no heating. As infrastructure, there is nothing besides a tiny table. The constraints make it definitely very exciting. At the end you have really to consider each square meter when you’re taking decisions. I’ve never be a big fan of white-cube and I am very keen on adapting the space to each new exhibition. We are really working together with the artists on how we will present the works related to the exhibition concept. Such a small space created immediately an immersive impression, it’s very nice to use this impulsion to think about what we are doing. It turns often in very long and good discussions about the artist’s practice.

She BAM! is working on women artists representation, it is a feminist bubble, but it is absolutely crucial to say that when we are working with the artist in the space, we are speaking about art, about their art. The feminist discourse and position of the gallery is in the background all the time, but what we want to show within the exhibition is art; new international and various positions in France and Germany.

Exhibition View, Anna Nero, « Shiny Shiny », September 2019

VASiSTAS
How do you think the status of female artists will develop over the next few years?

Laetitia Gorsy
It’s hard to say, thinking about equality only concerns a minority of people and that’s very sad. At the moment, this questions are very current and people might more think more about equality, but it should not just sound like a wave. The rise of women artists could be more anchored within the next years but as soon as you stop fighting it will mend and patriarchy comes back like a mushroom on a wall. No one will ask you to fight for women and minorities rights, but if you want to do it you have to keep the power continuously up to keep it alive.

VASiSTAS
What are the next projects of She BAM! ?

Laetitia Gorsy
The 2020’s program is going to be very exciting with projects and exhibitions in Germany and in France. It would also be great to spend time on writing to find out what’s going on through She BAM! and share our experiences with other networks, but well, just follow us !

 


If you want to know more about She BAM! we recommend their Instagram-account.

Featured Image by Enrico Meyer 

Laura Gerstmann

written by Laura Gerstmann

author | B.A. in Art History, lives and works in Leipzig, Germany

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