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 

Clementine Butler-Gallie at Pilotenkueche – From Elsewhere to Leipzig


Clementine Butler-Gallie is the current curator of the 39th issue of the Pilotenkueche international art residency program and has the premiere of her first group show Elsewhere a Blue Line and the Absurdity of a Ghost on a Stone in the Basement of Kunstkraftwerk LeipzigA conversation about curating, the art scene in Germany compared to Great Britain and the role of women in art. 

Von Laura Gerstmann

Installation view with front work by Anabel Nájera-López, Absent Presence, 80 × 90 × 88 cm, Found fabric and plaster, 2019 and back view work by Dominga Vergara, Reflect Conversing, 135 × 380 cm, Painting on canvas, 2019 // Photo credit: Coffee Kang and Adrian Rötzscher

VASiSTAS:
You originally came from near London, studied and worked in a gallery at the capital. Most recently, you organized exhibitions in East Berlin with your collective East of Elsewhere. How did you come to Leipzig and the Pilotenkueche residency?

Clementine:
There is always push and pull when you move to a new city. It felt that Berlin was becoming over saturated and expensive, and Leipzig had space and energy. My practice was becoming more research based, and so the appeal of Leipzig’s pace and prices led me here. That said, it is also important in the art world to get to know the scene you are entering before you begin projects. Pilotenkueche offered a great opportunity to connect and experiment within a residency format, hopefully sowing the seed for what I hope is a long future in the city.

VASiSTAS:
The title of the exhibition Elsewhere a Blue Line and the Absurdity of a Ghost on a Stone is quite complex. What is the best way to understand and interpret it?

Clementine:
The exhibition responds to the question who defines a narrative? The title tries to encompass the absurdity of certain narratives in society. We are often controlled by narratives and it’s an important exercise to train our minds to step off the given line and find our own versions. The construct of a residency brings together many different artists, themes, mediums and narratives. There is no restriction on what the artists produce during their stay. From this, I see the exhibition more as an exercise for the viewer to find the hidden connections. If we can find the things that connect us in the microcosm of an exhibition then maybe, we can find them more easily in the macrocosm of society.

Jos Diegel, detail of Loose film anthology in two different states of matter (made by people gathering and armed with celluloid), scratched and painted 35mm Film installation, 2017-2019 // Photo credit: Coffee Kang and Adrian Rötzscher

VASiSTAS:
How did the concept of this exhibition come about?

Clementine:
The residency’s 15 artists come from different channels of production, cultures, and countries. The experience of curating the residency provides the challenge of connecting people and practices that are so diverse. Pilotenkueche offers a great opportunity for cultural and group exchange. Part of this exchange includes finding the exhibition titles as a group. My role was then to create the concept after the title was chosen.

 

“If we can find the things that connect us in the microcosm of an exhibition then maybe, we can find them more easily in the macrocosm of society”

 

VASiSTAS:
Completely different from how you usually work?

Clementine:
Yes, this is the reverse format to what I am used to, but as the exhibition encourages, it is always positive to step off the line and try something new.

Louis Bouvier, A Seperate Seat for One Person, 5 × 40 × 55 cm, Plaster, metal, found object, 2019 // Photo credit: Coffee Kang and Adrian Rötzcher
Izdehar Afyouni, She’s A Cult (Work in progress), 210 x 300, Oil on linen, 2019 // Photo credit: Coffee Kang and Adrian Rötzscher

VASiSTAS:
In her work, the artist Izdehar Afyouni deals with the Renaissance painter Artemisia Gentileschi. For many centuries, female artists remain rarities in art history. And even today women are still underrepresented in the art market. As a curator, what is your view of this problem like?

Clementine:
It is a sad fact that we are still having to reference figures such as Artemisia Gentileschi in the contemporary context, but it is important. The gender gap in art world representation, employment and pay, art market values and general treatment within in the sphere continues to be apparent. The underrepresentation of women artists in galleries was something I first noticed when exploring the scene in Leipzig. However, the international dialogue on such issues is strong and slowly progress is being made, in some places more than others.

VASiSTAS:
What do you think is the best way to solve this problem?

Clementine:
Well, the continued dialogue on the situation is always important, but it is also about constructive response. People in positions of selective power; gallerists, curators, directors of museums, art schools, residencies and other cultural institutions, should acknowledge this power. These individuals should see the solving of the problem as their professional duty. By automatically reassessing an exhibiting artist list or gallery program if the large majority of artists are male, a huge difference could be made. It is not that talented female artists are not out there, it just takes a little bit of extra effort to discover them. Unfortunately change often has to start at the top, the place where gender bias is most entrenched.

Clementine Butler-Gallie / Backround: Louis Bouvier, (Rail) Not So Continuous, 2019

VASiSTAS:
What are your impressions of the art scene in Germany compared to the UK?

Clementine:
I find the German art scene much more open and dispersed, in the UK it is very London centric and with that comes an embedded elitism due to the cities high costs. But my experience of the German art scene lies predominantly in Berlin and Leipzig, cities known for their accessibility and lower costs, so perhaps my scope is not totally rounded. That said, my personal experience of Germany has allowed for my projects to be much more experimental and not so commercial.

Elisabeth Kraus, detail of Selfies, diameter 4cm, silicon, wax, concrete, fluorescent epoxy, ash, 2019 // Photo credit: Taïs Bean and Louis Devereux

VASiSTAS:
But you have free entrance in London?!

Clementine:
Yes, that’s true, there are so many counterpoints. The museums are one of the things I miss most about London. But I would say the gallery scene there is much more elitist, I way prefer the open energy and beer culture of openings here.

VASiSTAS:
And Leipzig compared to Berlin?

Clementine:
The space for activity here is most prominent to me, I imagine it has a feel of what Berlin must have been 10 years ago. The scene here is more local and painting focused compared to the more international and multimedia representation in Berlin, but I’m excited to watch how that transforms.

Sabrina Jolicoeur, detail of We Share Our Blood, 200 × 200 × 900 cm, Found wire, carbon fibre, fools gold, shungite, avocado pits, patchouli & sandal, 2019 // Photo credit: Coffee Kang and Adrian Rötzscher

 

“The space for activity here is most prominent to me, I imagine it has a feel of what Berlin must have been 10 years ago”

 

VASiSTAS:
What are your next projects?

Clementine:
East of Elsewhere will be taking the exhibition ‘While You Were Sleeping’ that we first curated in London to Kuwait at the end of November. It`s a double solo of two Berlin-based artists from Syria, Hiba Al-Ansari and Fadi Al-Hamwi. For three months at the end of the year I will be based in Beirut to continue my research on the cultural exchange between the DDR and the Middle East. This is a more longterm project, that I plan to eventually present in Leipzig.

Marijn Rooslind Green, Becoming Solid, Modules 48 x 23 x14 cm, Paraffin Wax, 2019 // Photo credit: Coffee Kang and Adrian Rötzscher

VASiSTAS:
And there is also another Pilotenküche Exhibition?

Clementine:
Yes, there will be the final exhibition of this round of the residency opening on June 21st. The show is titled Wrestling with Impermanence, and will play with the concepts of renewal and return, as the artists and myself prepare to leave the residency and let it welcome the next round. It will be held both inside and outside the Pilotenküche studio on Franz-Flemming Straße.

 


Elsewhere a Blue Line and the Absurdity of a Ghost on a Stone runs until June 2nd at Kunstkraftwerk Leipzig.

If you want to know more about Clementine’s projects, we recommend this website.

Featured Image by Riccardo Cagnotto

Zerrissene Gesellschaft: Eröffnung des 8. Festivals für Fotografie f/stop in Leipzig


Wie zerrissen ist unsere Gesellschaft eigentlich? Die Frage stellt sich nicht erst seitdem Donald Trump im Oval Office spukt.

Weiterlesen “Zerrissene Gesellschaft: Eröffnung des 8. Festivals für Fotografie f/stop in Leipzig”