SCULPTURE HUB a network for sculptors

Sculpture Talk V: The Expanding Field & The Collective as Strategy

Saturday May 14th at 2:30-4pm, Galleri Box in Göteborg, Sweden

In our fifth Sculpture Talk we expanded upon the field of sculpture and presented Sisters of Jam - Mikaela Kristensen in dialog with Karolina Pahlén curator at Borås Art Museum. We also showed part of S.O.J video installation from Kate Millett Farm. “It takes a million years to be a woman”, video 10 min. The talk also included The Temporary Separatists - artist Rose Gibbs and Sofia Landström.

The discussion took departure in the women collective Kate Millet Farm and the evolution of that community to expand into the ideas of sisterhood and working in collective. The dialog continued to revolve around the pros and cons with all-women-shows as a strategy to make women artists more visible especially when organizing exhibitions that does not have clear feminist or women issues as the core concept to tie the artists to one another. Since our sculptureHUB research and in extension the series of talks can be seen as explorations of different strategies for making women sculptors and artists visible, this conversation served as a good way of tying up the lecture series that have touched upon varying subjects such as; material, aesthetics and social practice.

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Documentation images by Martin Hultén

 

Lecture at Göteborgs Konsthall: RE/FORMATIONS: Disability, Women, and Sculpture

Göteborgs Konsthall
Saturday February 5th from 2-3:30pm

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The forth presentation in our Sculpture Lecture series focused on art and disabilities and the exhibition “Re/Formations: Disability, Women, and Sculpture”. Professor of English at Davidson College, Dr. Ann M Fox and Jessica Cooley, Ph.D. candidate in the art history department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison presented their research and field of crip theory, disability aesthetics, and the presence of disability in modern and contemporary art (including the art of HIV/AIDS).

 
They started off by giving the audience an introduction to the academic field of disability theory and described the social structures surrounding disabilities, the status of bodies, traditional narratives and oppressive behaviors. They laid out the history of disability studies and grounding this in visual culture, such as medical photography in the 1900 century which played a huge role in the stigmatization of the disable identity, art and visual culture connects directly to categorization and the caption and policing of bodies and normality. 
 
Further they talked about how art and visual culture also can be used the other way around, to break stigmas and challenge the normative narratives, and thereby create a liberating platform to create new identities and power. Within this context they presented their exhibition “Re/Formations: Disability, Women, and Sculpture” that they co-curated at the Van Every/Smith Galleries at Davidson College, North Carolina. “Re/Formations” was the first exhibition to address the intersection between disability identity and female identity. Five female artists, exhibited sculpture that examined disability not as mental or physical insufficiency limited to a small minority, but as a widespread and diffuse cultural identity, like race or sexual orientation. The interesting thing to note in this was that not all the artist identify as disabled, Fox and Cooley gave us a thought worthy explanation to why: As we have a pre-fixed idea of normality we have to change our gaze and understand that it is about the reading of the work and the idea of the body. The body itself doesn’t have to be disabled but the work can in an interesting way question normality and body abilities that makes it possible to read through the eyes of disability theory. In this case Rebecca Horn.  Together with the art of Judith Scott, who’s disability informs her art we can access a way to produce and understand art from a new direction. To take this idea further and not get stuck in conventional ideas of normality, their immediate curatorial strategy was designed to be tactile, manageable and accessible, by making space for wheel chairs, using bigger fonts and having the work in a height where it was accessible. This way of designing an exhibition got praised by not only wheel chair users but also by people standing because it helped the exhibition to become more intimate.
 
Fox and Cooley ended their talk by presenting the exhibition Re/presenting HIV/AIDS, an exhibition about the scientific and social perspectives on the illness. This exhibition included personal stories of HIV/AIDS – how is it to live with AIDS and what does the medicine do to the people who’s on them? What follows from diagnosis and treatment?
 
This interesting presentation was followed by a Q&A where questions about terminology and abelism was discussed, Fox and Cooley described for us how terminology can be used as a reclaiming of a word. They spoke about abelism which is, like sexism, a way to structurally or directly oppress individuals based on their abilities. They also answered question about invisible disabilities such as depression and ADD, how we have historically portrayed the artist as hysterical or mad, and usually as something negative that needs to be healed and fixed instead of realizing that this invisible disability can have helped to make their art possible. In relation to all-women-shows we asked questions about labeling and categorization and realized the importance of explaining, contextualizing and understanding the categories outside of an oppressive framework.

Text by Sofia Landström 

 

The presentation at Göteborgs Konsthall is the fourth in the sculpture lecture series organized by artist Josefina Posch and curator Sofia Landström – sculptureHUB. Produced by Snowball Cultural Productions supported by Göteborgs Stad Kultur, Stiftelsen Längmanska Kulturfonden, SWEA- North Carolina and Galleri Box.

 

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Thoughts on: Network meeting in Copenhagen/NLHspace

On Thursday night the 4th of February we went to Copenhagen and had a round-table discussion at NLHspace. As usual we started off with a short presentation of SculptureHUB and summarized our thoughts so far, Josefina shared her experiences as an artist, asking questions and presented statistics to the audience. Sofia then presented thoughts on underrepresentation and different strategies of All-women-shows, followed by statistics of the contemporary art world made by East London Fawcett’s Art Audit. This time we had also added some numbers from the Copenhagen art scene, presenting the numbers at commercial galleries and the big institutions it became clear that there were only around 25-30% female artists regardless of type of venue and that women were especially underrepresented when it came to solo-shows.

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As in Helsinki there was only women attending the discussion which shows how framed this subject seem to be. We have also found different attitudes towards the issues depending on the different countries. In Denmark we found that many women have not thought about the questions we presented them with and it seems to be promoted to a higher extent that representation is based on quality and not gender. This lead to an interesting discussion about content versus quotas. We were pleased to hear so many women talking about these issues and also questioning the aims and goals of the project. Interestingly, again, women attending seemed keen on creating networks and some suggested that we should move from exhibition to online platforms and other kind of networking were galleries, institutions and artists could get information about other women in art, and by that strategy find ways to expose women in the galleries and exhibition venues. The group had a rewarding discussion about ‘Open-calls’ and solo-shows, would it be beneficial to have ‘Open-call’ or what is the most democratic way of curating these kind of exhibitions? It seemed like quality rather than quantity was an important matter and therefore focusing on a few women exhibiting solo over a period of time rather than showing a lot of women at once would be more beneficial to prove our point and give these women a push forward in their careers. As we continued talking these topics made us think about value, what are the three aspects of value: venue, money and the token man seemed to be agreed upon as defining value. For a successful project we therefore have to think about those aspects when we plan and organize the exhibition in order to give the project and artists credibility but at the same time not giving up on our aims and goals. We are very pleased to have heard so many ideas and thoughts, we were glad to hear so many views on our project and not just the issue as such, how people seem to be interested in the final goals and aims of the project and not just focusing on women in art.

The following day we had meetings with female artists from Copenhagen, we were very grateful so many wanted to show their portfolios and their work with us. We are especially happy to hear that so many people and artists seemed to appreciate the idea of Josefina and I travelling around, since that gives both them and us an opportunity to get seen which would not have been possible if the trip had not been done. We would like to thank all participants, Miriam and Mette at NLHspace for hosting us.

 

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Text by Sofia Landström 

Thoughts on: Network meeting in Oslo/Tenthaus

This weekend we arranged our second round-table discussion outside of Sweden. We went to Norway where Tenthaus Oslo hosted us.

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We started off with a short presentation of SculptureHUB and summarized our thoughts of the project, Josefina shared her experiences as an artist, asking questions and presented gender related statistics to the audience. Sofia then presented thoughts on underrepresentation and different strategies of All-women-shows, followed by statistics of the contemporary art world. The audience was given time to reflect and contemplate upon the issue at hand while we all took a short break with food and drinks.

As everyone sat down again we opened up for the participants to discuss their own experiences and what they thought was lacking in the art scene. Attending the discussion was artists and curators from Norway and thanks to Tenthaus Oslo´s large network we had a great turnout. This informal round-table discussion lead to an interesting dialog concerning history writing, media attention and the fear of becoming victimized as a woman artist. The talk went from formulating the problems, concerning the writing of history, the inclusion and exclusion from art history and the importance of re-writing such history, to institutional selection and the current situation in Norway, to finding solutions and strategies to challenge the current order through quotas, using the word ‘feminism’ and the importance of create networks for women artist. The idea of networks was a reoccurring notion and seems to be something that is lacking for women artists in their career, suggestions were made for us to start a facebook group and/or find other ways to establish a common ground for women to help each other and address concerns. The evolving discussion manifested how important it is to find a place in art history for women and to establish platforms where we can discuss and help one another along in an art world where we don’t get included. This round-table discussion was very rewarding as everyone shared ideas and opinions, which will be great help in our forthcoming research since it also gave us a hint of what the artists themselves lack.

The following day we had one-on-one meetings with artists from Oslo and other places in Norway. We were very grateful that so many wanted to share their portfolios and their work to us. But for the two of us Marianne Hultman, the artistic director of Olso Kunstförening/Oslo Fine Art Society in Norway was also meeting with artists. Hultman is a curator that has become known for showing art made by female artists, a fact that according to herself is simply that she shows work that she finds interesting and it just more often happens to be made by female artists. We would like to thank Marianne for participating along side with us during the Saturday event. During the second day at Tenthaus Oslo we found prospective names and possible collaborations for the future. We would like to thank all participants, everyone who wanted to meet us and especially Tenthaus Oslo for hosting us.

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Text by Sofia Landström

Documentation images by Stefan Schröder/Tenthaus Oslo

 

Thoughts on: Network meeting in Helsinki/HIAP

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Last week we arranged our first round table discussion outside of Sweden. We went to Helsinki and hosted a meeting at HIAP.

For this discussion we had invited artists, writers and curators from Finland to take part in the evening event. The event started off with a presentation of SculptureHUB where Josefina shared her experiences as an artist and the urgency of talking about these continuous issues. Sofia then presented thoughts on underrepresentation and different working and non-working strategies of All-women-shows.

Around 20 people attended the event, although the event was open for everyone there was only women in the audience, this can be seen as a further proof of the urgency of the subject. The presentation was followed by an informal round-table discussion where we invited all participants to eat and have a casual talk about women, underrepresentation and sculpture as an expanding field. The discussion became really interesting and went from formulating the problems, concerning ownership, selection and capital to finding solutions and strategies to challenge the current order through 50/50 quotas, anonymity and loudly addressing the problem. After this the discussion organically grew in to a discussion about sculpture itself, as an expanding field and the terminology and mediums that define sculpture. The evolving discussion showed us how important it is to open the discussion from institutional critique to the actual practices. This round-table discussion was very rewarding as everyone shared experiences and opinions, this will help us orient our standpoints and questions for further research.

Following day we had meetings with artists, curators and galleries – everything to give us a broad understanding of various thoughts on the subject. We got valuable feedback on our projects, prospective names and possible collaborations. Overall this first research trip was rewarding for our future work and we would like to thank all participants, everyone who agreed to meet us and HIAP for hosting us.

Text by Sofia Landström

Documentation images by Salla Lahtinen/HIAP

The SculptureHUB is supported by The Nordic Culture Point and the Helsinki meeting is made possible by the support by the Helsinki International Artist Programme (HIAP)

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Thoughts on: Sculpture, Photography and Drawing

This week started with the presentation by Dr. Jon Wood at Akademi Valand, the arts department of Gothenburg University. The third presentation in our Sculpture Lecture series focused on the relation between Sculpture, Photography and Drawing. Jon Wood, research curator and art historian from The Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, and Co-editor of Sculpture Journal presented his lecture `Drawing on Sculpture: Graphic Interventions on the Photographic Surface´.

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The lecture took its starting point in the exhibition at the Henry Moore Institute a few years back: “Drawing on Sculpture: Graphic Interventions on the Photographic Surface”, to which Wood written the catalogue text. The exhibition examined the subtle ways drawing and photography has been used to mediate sculpture and allowing artists to describe sculpture in a more flexible manner. The exhibition was put together primarily through the collections of Leeds Museums and Galleries and the Henry Moore Institute archive, and began with Rodin who used drawing on top of photos of his sculpture, like connotations which never were translated in to the sculpture but accordingly can be seen as an interpretation of the sculpture.

Jon Wood guided us from Rodin’s drawings through Willi Baumeister’s satire drawings of sculptures to present day, describing the works of Hew Locke, whose graffiti-like over-drawing references both Rodin’s sculptures and Baumeister’s mocking of the monumental sculpture tradition.

Wood opened up for an interesting discussion about the drawings and how we as an audience can interpret these interventions, on one hand it can be seen as a mocking of the sculpture tradition, trying to tease the idea of the masculine genius and the modernist ideologies by taking over the work and draw on it. This is a way to question authorship and challenge the idea of the autonomous artist. On the other hand it can be a way to give the work a new life, to experiment with the work, to animate and activate a sculpture from stable to unstable, from static to moving. These drawings gives us guidelines to the sculpture and expresses the internal emotional world of the sculpture, things we might not see with our bare eyes.

The relationship between sculpture and photography has been the subject of increased attention in exhibitions and publications in recent years, and we are very grateful Jon Wood came and visited us in Gothenburg, tossing drawing into the mix and giving us new understanding of sculpture, photography and drawing.

The discussion that followed also addressed the lack of women artists in the exhibition which Jon Wood attributed to the fact that they actually could not find any, probably because of the era from which the works where drawn. He also mentioned that there might be a tendency for women artist to hold a greater respect for the printed photograph thus being more reluctant in making alterations on it´s surface. This is an interesting notion as it’s a matter of authorship and who is allowed to become an author and takes the right to explore authorship. Women are now more represented in the art field which might give them the confidence and authority to explore authorship to a further extent.

We would like to thank everyone who made Jon Woods visit possible: The IASPIS expert visit program, Galleri Box, Lasse Lindkvist and Akademi Valand.

Text by Sofia Landström

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