Women in the MAR Collection
An exhibition from a feminist perspective should not only give value to the production of female artists, but also destabilize the traditional process of curation and seek new ways of producing meaning. In the elaboration of this project, over the period of two months we brought together collaborators from all sectors of the museum – security guards, receptionists, producers, administrative assistants, lawyers, journalists, designers, museologists, librarians and managers, among others – in a series of meetings to think about place of women, based on their private experiences. The problems, contradictions and difficulties were exposed in exercises and narratives and provided, bit by bit, support for the curatorial choices.
One of the consensuses we reached was that it would be important to exhibit works that not only addressed gender issues, but also showed that female artists should have the freedom to create what they want, even that which is traditionally produced by men, such as abstract works or landscape paintings, for example, not conditioning authorship to produce a so-called feminine art. Despite this, we know that independent of artistic language, women have always dealt with unequal circumstances within the art system and many of them have had their production interrupted for reasons such as invisibility, maternity, coordinating multiple tasks, misogyny, among many others.
However, the exhibition also presents works that deal with female identity and its representation, body and social disputes in a more direct way, seeking to emphasize gender beyond the conventional. Griselda Pollock warned that femininity should not be understood as a condition of woman, "but as an ideological form of the regulation of female sexuality within a domestic, heterosexual and familial environment, which is ultimately defined by law." She also defends Judith Butler by saying that gender is not a stable identity, but a historical situation, a performative production through the repetition of conditioned acts. These are lessons that tell us, in summary, that there is no essential gender.
According to these guidelines, the public can witness works by women brought together around five guiding axes: Portrait and Representation; Political Body; City and Landscape; Abstractions and Poetics.
We realize that the spotlight on gender, although it is surrounded by misunderstandings – some say that it sectorizes more than it integrates – must nevertheless be triggered so that revisions take place while there is no horizontality. However, no spotlight is homogeneous. Racial and class differences, for example, become even more evident and are deepened in institutions by means of systematic exclusions, that also remain unresolved here.
As well as uniting significant works from the museum, the conception and preparation of this exhibition triggered a process of analysis of the collection and the identification of important gaps that provoked an intense campaign of donations that in the last few months has resulted in the incorporation of dozens of new works by female Brazilian artists.
The Women of MAR