BY frieze d/e in Interviews | 29 MAR 13
Featured in
Issue 9

Künstlerinnen International

In 1977 a groundbreaking survey exhibition of female artists, Künstlerinnen International 1877–1977, opened at Berlin’s Schloss Charlottenburg. The show was quickly met with a hostile reception before being just as quickly forgotten – even in the annals of feminist art history.

In 2012, artist and musician Michaela Melián made a video installation featuring a conversation with artist Sarah Schumann and writer Silvia Bovenschen, who were instrumental in realizing the exhibition. Here, frieze d/e publishes an edited transcript of their conversation.

Accompanying it are interviews with Melián herself and with three members of the feminist group ff: artists Mathilde ter Heijne, Antje Majewski and Juliane Solmsdorf. Looking back today, how important was that show? Over the past four decades, what has changed in the relationship between feminism and art?

BY frieze d/e in Interviews | 29 MAR 13

Michaela Melián, Silvia Bovenschen und Sarah Schumann (Video still), 2012

(courtesy: Michaela Melián, Barbara Gross Galerie, München and Galerie Karin Guenther, Hamburg; camera: Sebastian Bodirsky)

Silvia Bovenschen & Sarah Schumann

Sarah Schumann The women who put together the show Künstlerinnen International 1877–1977 (Female Artists International 1877–1977) were Ursula Bierther, Evelyn Kuwertz, Karin Petersen, Inge Schumacher, Ulrike Stelzl, Petra Zöfelt and myself. It was the first exhibition of its kind in Europe of women artists, and our role models were Americans. They did the research, rediscovered forgotten women artists and wrote their biographies. It was organized by Berlin’s left-wing NGBK art society, who also gave us a budget of 100,000 Deutschmarks.

Silvia Bovenschen When I joined the group, I was very impressed: it was a totally autodidactic affair, as none of these women were professional exhibition-makers.

SS One faction within the group campaigned for the works shown to be realistic psychological portrayals: what women dream about, how they suffer from being women, women as victims, how they liberate themselves from this, etc. For those of us who were working to support art by women in a general sense, this was pure kitsch. There were hard-fought debates, which sometimes caused divisions within the group.

SB Those who believed in the existence of ‘women’s art’ wanted to establish a consistently ‘feminine aesthetic’; the others, including Sarah, opposed that. They said: let’s start by showing everything that exists. The exhibition was huge, with some very valuable exhibits. Art of all different kinds – but no housewife art.

SS Valie Export, Ulrike Rosenbach and many others did performances during the show.

SB The tenor of public opinion was that it made no sense just to show women because they are women. That’s a legitimate concern. But the outrage came from two very different sides. The fundamentalist feminists said: this is just the same old art shit again and all women are artists! They stormed the show and hung up tampons and were outraged that we had actually made choices, a selection. From the other side came scorn and derision along the lines of: what’s all this women’s stuff? There was no respect, not even for artists who had a place in art history or the contemporary art scene. The fact that women dared to organize an exhibition of this scale and scope in this venerable palace was seen as impudent, the cheek of it! Looking back, it’s hard to understand. Later, when similar exhibitions were staged on a much smaller scale, this show was never mentioned – it’s been more or less forgotten, although it would now be totally impossible to bring the same exhibits together in this way again.

SS In total, the show included 265 women artists – from Magdalena Abakanowicz to Rugena Zaptkova.

SB The artists were not suspicious; they were happy for their work to be included. Sarah went to see Meret Oppenheim in Paris. They got on well and Oppenheim gave her a gift.

SS She said: yes, great, I like you girls, go right ahead.

SB Later many women artists said they wanted nothing to do with the ‘art by women’ pigeonhole. Even today, this is something many women artists are scared of. But it goes in waves – there are also others that are more open to it.

I met Sarah during the preparations for the exhibition. At the time, I was working with Peter Gorsen on an upcoming issue of the magazine Ästhetik & Kommunikation with the title ‘Frauen Kunst Kulturgeschichte’ [Women, Art, Cultural History – published September 1976]. We had heard about the project in Berlin and we decided to contact the group. The strain of the preparation phase, which I had only witnessed from afar, was nothing compared with what happened when the show actually opened. It was intense. The group, who had frayed nerves and no energy left, recruited me as a kind of unofficial press spokeswoman. ‘You do this now’, they said. All for no money, of course.

SS It was featured in the main evening news on national television. The reporters were already there outside the gallery in the morning and we were late because we needed to catch up on some sleep …

SB In slightly reduced form, the exhibition then travelled on to the Kunstverein in Frankfurt, where it started all over, and I immediately found myself back on countless podiums defending the show.

SS Silvia was really great.

SB It was fun, too. But we were prepared to give everything for the cause. Art was still a sacredly male domain. Nothing had changed in Germany on that front. That needed to be faced head on. There are countless exhibitions showing art works made almost exclusively by men. And when a show comes along including only work by women, all of a sudden there’s an outcry. That was the political argument. But of course there is also an aesthetic-theoretical problem: does art by women have some special quality that justifies showing it in isolation? That sparked a lively, interesting discussion that still doesn’t appear to have been resolved.

When art is seen and communicated, that creates a different space that picks up a tradition and passes it on. Our exhibition created such a space – but nothing was passed on. Before long, everyone stopped talking about it, even women. Strange. Positively uncanny, in fact, since it seems to affirm the history of women’s historylessness. It’s like the hiccups; there’s nothing you can do about it.

Sarah and I certainly benefited from having done the show – but not in any financial sense. In that respect, it had more of a negative effect for Sarah. But in terms of how we saw the world, it was enormously useful. And we stand by it.

SS It was useful in personal terms …

SB … for one’s everyday awareness, but certainly not in public terms.

SS No.

SB When I was in school, I had no idea about the feminists of earlier times, but we did have this image of the suffragette: a matronly figure who was against all forms of fun. In reality, the suffragettes of the 19th century, especially in England, were unbelievably courageous women who threw themselves in front of police horses – some of them even died for the cause. By comparison, we were poor, puny figures. But I didn’t know all that: ‘suffragette’ was an insult signifying spoilsport, haggard, has-been. That’s exactly what we represent for young women today. I find it grotesque when someone from my generation expects gratitude: ‘We fought for all this, back then, for you, and now you couldn’t care less.’ That’s not the point. But many of these young women will think again eventually, for example when they have children, or if they build a great career but notice that they somehow can’t get right to the top. And they will have to re-examine the notion that the whole fight has already been won. That is the point here. You can’t get a lifetime subscription to progress. Under tough economic conditions, even things that have already been achieved can quickly be rolled back again. It’s a struggle that must be conducted continually. There’s no safe sinecure. And that also applies in art, right?

SS Yes.

SB And the women’s movement was not a single block; there were also stuffier groups, like the ones who suddenly started knitting – every movement quickly brings forth its own caricature. Sarah also came under attack … that cover you made for Courage magazine …

SS I was commissioned to produce the cover image for an issue on menopause. I took a section from a photograph of the naked torso of Ursula Lefkes, who was often my model, and I scraped it slightly with a knife. When it was published, many women turned against it, thinking it was pornographic.

Sarah Schumann, Das Herz ist ein einsamer Jäger, 1980, Collage (courtesy: Sarah Schumann)

SB With the rise of feminism, all forms of imagery were initially suspected of being dominated by the male gaze. Which is why there was a ban on beauty. As soon as a woman was attractive, naked or erotically arousing, there were suspicions of falling into male possession. Such fundamentalist

obsessions always limit the options for pictures; Sarah opposed that, putting women centre stage in her pictures, making them beautiful, in an opulent setting. And sometimes also bringing the exposed or naked body back into the picture. There was a chorus of whistles from both sides: from the official, male-dominated art world on the one hand, and from one section of the women’s movement on the other.

Even today, I’m mortified by my own narrow-minded reaction to Sarah’s pictures when I first saw them in 1975. I stood in front of one of her big, powerful canvases with a woman against a semi-abstract landscape of incredibly explosive colours, and I asked myself: is this allowed? Thankfully, the second thing I asked myself was how I came to react that way.

SS My use of colour set me apart from the contemporary painting of the time, painting that was more or less colourless.

SB In Sarah’s pictures, even the relatively abstract ones, there is this tension between something archaic, elemental, that could be interpreted as dread, and a sharply defined cultivation in the nuances of colour, in the constellations.

SS I always liked the inside and the outside: in the room and outside the room, or in the house and outside the house.

SB They are private and public figures.

Sarah Schumann, sich von unten sehen, 1960, Photocollage (courtesy: Sarah Schumann)

SS In this world I constructed they didn’t need a home. They are so solid and independent that they can live anywhere. They’re not portraits, but model figures. Of course I also project my own dreams onto them. I’d like to be that way, not to need a house, that would fine by me. But I can’t achieve it, so I paint it.

SB Sarah has certain notions of beauty that could be vilified as owing too much to the male gaze. I don’t see it that way. I know what I’m talking about, I’ve experienced it firsthand, I’ve never conformed to the dress codes that existed in certain branches of feminism, and neither has Sarah. Whatever you do, be it politics or art, you can always expect to be caught in the middle, between two stools. Finally, that’s become our place, for life. And it’s no bad thing: the career chances might not be so great there, but you do meet some very nice people.

Translated by Nicholas Grindell

Silvia Bovenschen is a writer and literary scholar living in Berlin. Her book Die imaginierte Weiblichkeit (Imagined Feminity) was published in 1979. In 2000 she was awarded the Roswitha Literary Prize, and in 2007 the Ernst Robert Curtius Prize for Essay Writing. Her most recent publication is the novel Wie geht es Georg Laub? .

Sarah Schumann is an artist who lives in Berlin. Her first gallery show was in Frankfurt in 1953. Since then, she has had numerous solo shows, including at Kunstverein München (1976) and Kunstverein Hamburg (1983). Comprehensive catalogues have been published by Frölich & Kaufmann Verlag, Berlin, in 1982 and by Nicolai Verlag, Berlin, in 2003.

Michaela Melián

Michaela Melián, Sarah Schumann und Silvia Boveschen, 2012, exhibition view Shedhalle, Zürich (courtesy: the artist)

frieze d/e How did the video installation Sarah Schumann und Silvia Bovenschen of 2012 come about?

Michaela Melián I had been thinking of doing something on Schumann and Bovenschen for a long time. And when I received an invitation from Shedhalle Zürich to be part of an exhibition on feminism in the summer of 2012, I knew it was the right moment to bring in characters who are owed a historical debt, whom I still find relevant and who, like myself, still proactively use the term ‘feminism’. The Zurich show aimed to foster discussion of the term feminism itself in light of the fact that many women today no longer identify with it. This aspect was also reflected in the title, The F-Word, which I think was an unfortunate choice. The curator, Anke Hoffmann, argued that the social phenomenon of being uncomfortable with the word feminism should be highlighted – but I still think it problematic to create such a direct link between ’feminism‘ and the usual F-word, ‘fuck’. I was also not happy with the fact that the show only featured women.

Why? The exhibition in 1977 was also women only …

MM Those were different times. Today, we need to conduct the debate in a different way: men must also be involved. It can no longer be about a two-gender model. Back then it was about taking stock: where do we stand? What are our historical points of reference? This was also the key to my work. Looking at the catalogue for Künstlerinnen international 1877–1977, it is striking how many of the artists have been forgotten. At the same time, the show featured names like Valie Export, Lucy Lippard and Martha Rosler. When I met Rosler at a dinner in 2012 and asked her about it, she said she had no memory at all of this show. That is another important point: the exhibition itself is no longer present, many artists have omitted it from their biographies. Perhaps because they don’t want to be restricted by this context.

How did you come across the exhibition Künstlerinnen international in the first place?

MM Many of my works have dealt with mechanisms and gestures of power: what is retained, what is left out. I first heard about the 1977 exhibition from Sarah Schumann herself. Sarah showed me the catalogue, which I then bought second-hand. And it made me think: strange, this catalogue can be bought easily and cheaply online, but the exhibition was never mentioned in the various art-related gender debates of the 1990s and 2000s.

In your video Bovenschen speaks of matricide … Or is it just forgetting?

MM I have no explanation. Over the last 20 years, the gender debate has spread right across academia, and it is firmly inscribed in younger artists and in major exhibitions like the last Documenta – but in spite of this, certain things are not retained, even in versions of history written by women. A filter is created as a kind of gesture of power. And this exhibition fell victim to that filter. It was accused, among other things, of adapting its format too closely to the male art system. In 1985, the Museum Moderner Kunst in Vienna hosted a show entitled Kunst mit Eigen-Sinn. Aktuelle Kunst von Frauen (Art With Its Own Sense of Self. Contemporary Art by Women) curated by Silvia Eiblmayr and Valie Export – and this show does get mentioned in people’s biographies, even though many of the same artists took part.

What impact does amnesia have?

MM The aim of Künstlerinnen international was to present these pioneers of feminism to a new generation. When I think of Nadja Geer, for example, whose 2012 book Sophistication offered a critical analysis of male pop theorists, it is striking that when Klaus Walter asked her during a radio interview to name some women role models, she couldn’t name a single one. This is a huge problem: if you ask women to name role models and all they can think of are male artists, then it’s as if the female artists have been taken out of the equation. It’s not as easy to get away with that today as it was 30 or 40 years ago, but it still happens all the time.

The exhibition was organized to generate visibility, and the result was that the exhibition itself became invisible.

MM For Sarah Schumann, it was very damaging to have been perceived in this context: prior to this exhibition, she had big solo shows at numerous German Kunstvereins – and suddenly she was stigmatized. This stigmatization probably reinforced the way others later erased the show from visibility. An additional factor is the transition from the 1970s to the ‘80s. My generation, which emerged in the early 1980s, wanted to break away, to cut any ties with essentialist feminism – this is probably what Bovenschen refers to as matricide. We took points of reference from the 1920s and ‘30s, artists like Hannah Höch and Meret Oppenheim. And figures from the 1970s were treated very unfairly, all tarred with the same brush. But in fact, when I look back at this exhibition, it was not so essentialist, both sides were at least represented. People like Schumann and Bovenschen had an entirely different approach: they are interested in fashion, they are always also looking at culture, at artificiality. But this barely registered at the time.

In Bovenschen’s book Die imaginierte Weiblichkeit (Imagined Femininity) published in 1979, she writes about women’s ‘history of historylessness’ in male-dominated accounts of culture …

MM And 11 years before Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble [1990], this anticipated much of the gender debate.

Bovenschen talks about visualization, especially visualizations of the female body, being generally suspect to feminists in the 1970s.

MM This is highly topical, because today those women who do not refer to themselves as feminists do so, among other reasons, because they want to wear sexy clothes, and want the male gaze on their bodies. This major conflict already existed in the women’s movement back then: both Bovenschen and Schumann liked wearing high-heeled shoes, dressing fashionably, etc. ‘Sackcloth and ashes’ was totally not their style and I think they also liked to play with the male gaze. It was about developing a complicated, distinctive concept of beauty.

Did this play a part in the way you portrayed them?

MM During the conversations that I conducted with them over a period of months, I developed the work’s aesthetic concept. Each step was discussed with them: they approved the interview recordings and we worked together on choosing the precise setting in their apartment, in front of the portrait of Silvia painted by Sarah in 1977, the year of the exhibition. Since both are very heavy smokers, the duration was the length of one cigarette. With the tableau vivant, I wanted to create a pictorial situation that refers to Schumann’s working method of staging beautiful women in strongly stylized surroundings. Schumann’s pictures take an incredibly head-on approach to materials and colours, and then I noticed parallels to works from later decades, by artists like Amelie von Wulffen or Jochen Klein. Right through to links with Kenneth Anger and Magnus Hirschfeld.

Ketty La Rocca, in principio erat, 1971, Photographic emulsion on canvas (courtesy: Georg Kargl Fine Arts, Vienna)

Is that what’s fascinating here: the fact that Bovenschen and Schumann were at the centre of the ‘difference feminism’ of the 1970s, that was later stigmatized even by women, but that at the same time they possessed ‘cool’ bohemian knowledge?

MM Exactly. They were certainly both cool bohemians in a circle of friends that also included people like filmmaker Harun Farocki, art historian Peter Gorsen and literary critic Walter Boehlich, but at the same time they operated in the tradition of the classic women’s movement. In 1972, for example, Schumann worked with Helke Sander on the film Macht die Pille frei? (Does the Pill Liberate?) which dealt with the then topical problem of contraception.

Bovenschen is still publishing, and in 2008 her book Älter werden (Getting Older) was a bestseller. Sarah Schumann still works every day in her studio, and you can see how hard it is to generate attention over the whole of one’s lifetime as an artist. The two of them are role models for how to keep a watchful eye on current discourse and occasionally contribute something while not annoying people with excessive zeal. How to grow older with great elegance and dignity.

Translated by Nicholas Grindell

Michaela Melián is an artist and musician living in Munich and Hamburg. Melián is a member of the band F.S.K. (Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle) (founded 1980), and since 2010 has been a professor at Hochschule für bildende Künste, Hamburg. Her solo show at K’ Zentrum Aktuelle Kunst, Bremen, opens 7 September. The video installation Sarah Schumann and Silvia Bovenschen (2012) will be shown in collaboration with frieze d/e, kindly supported by Salon Dahlmann, Berlin, Galerie Barbara Gross, Munich and Karin Guenther Galerie, Hamburg, at Haus an der Marburger Straße 3, Berlin (26–28 April).

ff: Mathilde ter Heijne, Antje Majewski, Juliane Solmsdorf

frieze d/e: How did ff come about?

Mathilde ter Heijne: When you study the history of art from a feminist perspective, you soon come across areas that have been totally forgotten. For me, it was a relief to find out that there are others for whom this is also important. That’s how the group began.

Antje Majewski: I’d like to jointly discover a new form of artistic language – in conversation, but also in artworks or actions. I had the feeling it would be easier if I thought it through beforehand just with female artist friends – because historically speaking there has always been a great lack of self-assurance, which can be regained by working together like this. Feminism is still an issue – in many areas, there are backlashes compared with what I know from my childhood.

Juliane Solmsdorf: I was born in 1977 in Berlin, the year of Künstlerinnen international 1877–1977. Hearing about the exhibition recently for the first time, I thought: I really am a child of that year, as even during my studies at the UdK I often worked collaboratively, mainly with female artist friends. Although I wouldn’t have specifically labelled this ‘feminist’ at the outset, I soon took it for granted that it would be continued and intensified in the form of ff.

ff masked ball ,2012, Vienna (Photograph: Drago Persic)

frieze d/e Künstlerinnen international aimed to generate visibility – only to be ‘condemned’ to invisibility itself.

JS Of the artists featured in the show, I know maybe a fifth, and most of those are from the United States.

AM In the English-speaking world and Scandinavian countries, big collections buying female artists has been the norm for much longer than in Germany. I recently spoke to someone who has a good knowledge of the collection at Berlin’s Neue Nationalgalerie who reported a striking bias in favour of male artists. And this is still going on today. Germany really has some catching up to do on this.

MH In Europe compared to the US, patriarchal structures have stronger historical roots, in the aristocracy for example.

AM When I taught at the art academy in Karlsruhe, there was me and one other woman professor – that was it, the rest were men. At Berlin Weissensee, too, I had two older men senior to me. Now, at the art academy in Kiel, I can run my faculty the way I want for the first time.

frieze d/e Juliane, how was it at the UdK?

JS I studied there from 1998 to 2005 with Katharina Sieverding. She regularly invited interesting new theorists in the fields of postcolonial studies, gender studies, etc …

MH I’m the women’s representative at the art academy in Kassel. As such I should actually be asked to attend the appointments committees. But I’m not. The vast majority of the professors are men.

frieze d/e The reception of Künstlerinnen international was also marked by turf wars within the feminist movement. Do you still experience that today?

AM For around a year now, we’ve been talking and arguing a lot within the group. Then we realized that our different approaches are our strength. Experiencing heterogeneity as enriching is easier said than done – be it a different artistic idiom or a different political orientation. But it’s the only way. One source of the problems that arose in the women’s movement was powerlessness. If heated discussions take place within a small group, coupled with a feeling of not being able to realize many of the resulting ideas in society, such differences become unbelievably tricky because failures can always be attributed to the other faction.

frieze d/e But aren’t there also just dogmatic differences? In the case of the 1977 show, for example, it was the issue of eroticism.

MH Much has changed since then. In the 1970s, portraying the female body was central to art made by women. Now there are other issues. The female body as such no longer needs to be liberated.

frieze d/e You’re currently planning a show called Erogenous Zone.

JS Yes, it’s the opening exhibition for our residency at Berlin’s Galerie im Körnerpark. Some of the artists show very explicitly what they consider to be erotic ideas. Others were more surprised by our invitation: ‘eroticism? Me?’

MH It ranges from incorporated pornographic images through to totally abstract work.

frieze d/e One major difference between then and now is the increased presence of queer viewpoints, right?

MH We’re not interested in feeding that academic discourse. You don’t always have to cover the whole field. That’s a typically German idea, to categorize everything.

AM Of course we also work with lesbian artists. In recent years, discourse had shifted strongly towards queer issues. We don’t see a conflict there, but what we did miss was a formulation of the desire of heterosexual women. One example would be the Naked Men show at the Leopold Museum in Vienna: there was almost no work by women who find men desirable. And you think: hold on a moment, what world are we living in? That’s the trouble when you only deconstruct and resist sexist, patriarchal descriptions – you don’t formulate your own position. For us, it’s very important to stand up and say: yes, we’re talking about our wishes, our desires, our idea of beauty.

frieze d/e Do you also see the same thing in Schumann and Bovenschen’s 1977 show?

MH Definitely. If you look at the catalogue, you see that no homogenization took place. No two contributions are the same. I can imagine that this in itself must have been very annoying to some people: ‘what? No strict selection procedure?’ Today, it strikes me as a feminist agenda, but at the time people probably took them for dilettantes.

frieze d/e In the 1980s, if not before, people became uncomfortable with the idea of a kind of ghettoization – the ghetto of ‘women’s art’.

AM That can happen, for sure. I recently visited Goldsmith’s in London, where they have a special library donated by women artists for women artists, with a great archive of slides. But students have to register to use it. As it turned out, the main library doesn’t have duplicate copies of all these books, so it’s a kind of segregation. Althea Greenan, who runs the library, said the advantage is that nothing gets thrown away – that the documen­tation of these women remains, regardless of changing trends in art history. That’s what I think is important about the catalogue from 1977: its insistence that each individual woman has a life and an oeuvre of her own and that this is worth documenting.

MH Who makes ghettos? Mostly they’re an outside force, and you don’t have to take part in them. The problem is that sometimes women have not viewed themselves as strong.

JS In the project spaces I’ve occasionally organized, it was never about showing women artists because they were women. But I realized that many women artists who are friends of mine didn’t have the kind of visibility I could imagine them having.

AM The painter Sylvia Sleigh, who featured on the cover of the March issue of frieze, is a good example. She is mentioned in Linda Nochlin’s 1971 essay Why have there been no great woman artists? I’ve been following her work since the early 1990s. I researched her, met her and conducted a long interview. And I tried to get her included in exhibitions – to no avail. No one was interested. Sleigh was active in New York women’s groups. Her problem was that she was perceived as a female appendage to the famous critic Lawrence Alloway who also happened to do a bit of painting. She died in 2010 aged 94, and a retrospective of her work is currently touring Europe.

Is our main aim to raise women out of obscurity into the mainstream art business? On the one hand, yes, because we want as many people as possible to see Sleigh. On the other hand, we don’t view official recognition and money as the highest value.

MH Instead of just getting in on the game, we want to play a game of our own. Attempting to change the art world is possible. Not by changing ourselves, but by setting up a different kind of art production. We don’t need any MoMA or any high priests to turn us into high priestesses.

frieze d/e A classic political question: should one seek recognition, or should one seek to alter the criteria according to which recognition is given?

MH We need to get away from the notion of the canon, the idea that ‘this is what everyone ought to see and acknowledge as important’. How can we learn to accept different versions of art history as valid? For me, that is a far more modern, forward-looking notion. On this point, feminism and modern society fit together well, as conflicts always arise when people have to fight each other over what should be seen.

frieze d/e Isn’t there a risk of atomization? Everyone tending their own little garden …

MH In the old days, a far smaller number of people within society dealt with fewer issues that needed a decision. Today things are more demanding, but it also brings a certain freedom. For me, there is a feminist idea here: the idea of freeing oneself from small (in this case male) elite groups.

JS It also means not being automatically against male artists, but rather: let’s get on with supporting each other! We know plenty of artists, especially from the 1990s, who gave each other huge amounts of support, partly on artistic grounds, but also partly due to strong male friendships. And today I think: wow, I can do the same, and without expressing explicit opposition to specific male artists.

frieze d/e Antje, you mentioned how diversity sounds nice but is hard to put into practice …

AM Here’s how I see it: everyone keeps their name, their work, their identity, their history, their language – but at the same time, we know that no one is a hermetically-sealed subject. Writing history always involves a construction – by building contacts with women artists from outside Europe, for example – that also constructs us and our future.

MH It’s about exploring alternatives to the official canon now and in the past. There is no reason for allowing ourselves to be suppressed. And if such a reason does exist, then we should reject it. We can do that.

Translated by Nicholas Grindell

The group ff is a network of feminist artists: Nine Budde, Delia Gonzalez, Mathilde ter Heijne, Antje Majewski, Amy Patton, Katrin Plavcak, Nina Prader, Jen Ray, Melissa Steckbauer, Juliane Solmsdorf. At any time the number of artists that work with ff may vary.

Mathilde ter Heijne is an artist living in Berlin. Since April 2011 she has been a Professor for Visual Art, Performance and Installation at Kunsthochschule Kassel.

Antje Majewski is an artist living in Berlin and Himmelpfort. Since 2011, she has been a Professor for Painting at Muthesius-Kunsthochschule Kiel.

Juliane Solmsdorf is an artist living in Berlin. Solmsdorf and Mathilde ter Heijne will curate the opening exhibition of the ff project Temporary Autonomous Zone / 2, entitled Erogenous Zone, at Galerie im Körnerpark and Pony Royal, Berlin, which runs until 21 April.