In the late 1960's in the United States, at the heart of the second wave of feminism, the journalist Gloria Steinem distinguished herself from her male and female colleagues working on the women's cause through her cross-layered research. She was thus placing on the same level the different minorities and layers of discrimination, whether they were of a sexual, racial or class nature, before this question of category appeared in the following decade. While the war in Vietnam was drawing to an end, consciences were released and citizens were taking to the streets. The publication of her biography My Life on the Road in 2015, available in French from 2019 under the title Ma vie sur la route, has accompanied, incidentally or not, a resurgence of these same themes in an emerging generation of artists.
In the art field, Martha Rosler, Nancy Spero or Annette Lemieux have, for many decades, been questioning the interaction between the public and political sphere and the private domain, notably that of women in the home. Today however, reflection on the construction of a collective memory is again gripping our attention, as in the work of Leslie Hewitt or Iman Issa. They both make us reflect on the porosity between the intimate and socio-political, particularly during this era of galloping globalisation. How can we analyse and interpret language, art or history in terms of our family roots, culture or sex? How do we shape our identity or gender? Here there is a transition going from Carolee Schneemann and Mary Kelly to Macon Reed, Sara Cwynar and Chloe Wise. How then do we regard the body of a woman? In turn an object of desire, curiosity, fear, even exotic as in the context of colonial oppression or evidence of passing time when set in the tradition of vanities...these different perspectives are analysed and embraced by Cassi Namoda and Theodora Allen. But the body, this envelope, is as much of the mind as of the flesh, source of eroticism and unfeigned pleasure. Loie Hollowell, Julie Curtiss and Amy Lincoln explore this, asserting a sensitive feminist commitment, without rejecting the attraction of aesthetic form, along the lines of Kiki Smith. In these times when the codes linked to instruments of power, privilege and archetypal figures are being taken apart, the sixteen artists presented at La Patinoire Royale confront these themes freely, through painting, drawing, photography, photomontage, video or installation, in order to further the dialogue. For two years on from the start of the movement #MeToo, a new conception of desire and consent is emerging. This process is in keeping with the policy of La Patinoire Royale, which has strongly supported women artists ever since it opened.
Marie Maertens is a journalist, art critic, and free-lance curator, based in Paris and frequent resident of New York. She has opened up numerous dialogues between the American and French scenes and has already addressed the evolution of gender and feminism for the exhibition Le Quatrième Sexe at Le Coeur gallery, Paris in 2017.
Theodora Allen born in 1985 in United-States, lives in Los Angeles
Julie Curtiss born in 1982 in France, lives in New-York
Sara Cwynar born in 1985 in Canada, lives in New-York
Angela Dufresne born in 1969 in United-States, lives in New-York
Leslie Hewitt born in 1977 in United-States, lives in New-York
Loie Hollowell born in 1983 in United-States, lives in New-York
Iman Issa born in 1979 in Egypt, lives between New-York and Berlin
Mary Kelly born in 1941 in United-States, lives in Los Angeles
Annette Lemieux born in 1957 in United-States, lives in Boston
Amy Lincoln born in 1981 in United-States, lives in New-York
Cassi Namoda born in 1988 in Mozambique, lives between Los Angeles and New-York
Macon Reed born in 1981 in United-States, lives in New-York
Martha Rosler born in 1943 in United-States, lives in New-York
Carolee Schneemann born in 1939 in United-States and passed away in 2019 in New-York
Kiki Smith born in 1954 in Germany, lives in New-York
Nancy Spero born in United-States in 1926 and passed away in 2009 in New-York
Odessa Straub born in 1989 in United-States, lives in New-York
Chloe Wise born in 1990 in Canada, lives in New York
Press release courtesy La Patinoire Royale – galerie Valérie Bach.