They say #futureisfemale. And what is our present? In hospitals, universities, farmlands, construction sights, and the art scene, there are women. Some of them lead and create. Others follow the orders. Hopefully, there are more of them seeking equality than losing hope on it. The future won’t exist without the female in it. We’ve spoken with Ugne Buzinskaite, the ‘Lewben Art Foundation’ director about the future and the present of women artists and their voice in the land of equality.
Was a search for talented but rarely noticed female artists ever a goal for the ‘Lewben Art Foundation’?
We made the first turn to women artists in the ‘Lewben Art Foundation’ collection in 2017 when we organized the exposition at ArtVilnius’17 – ‘All These Beautifull Ladies,’ curated by Francesca Ferrarini. At that time, only 40 out of 300 artists in the collection were female. I and my colleagues, we’ve counted this number out of a simple curiosity back then, but this unexpected discovery inspired us to put more effort into analyzing and sharing the female art within our institution and between our followers, viewers, readers of our publications. While answering your questions, I’ve also counted how many pieces by female artists were acquired for the ‘Lewben Art Foundation’ collection in the past 3 years. It’s around 60.
A project ‘A Room of One’s Own,’ which inspired a book ‘What Took You So Long,’ compiled by Monika Krikstopaityte was a breakthrough moment for us and our collection regarding women artists. While creating a book, art pieces by Egle Gineityte, Laisvyde Salciute, Egle Ridikaite, Keren Cytter, Egle Karpaviciute, and many others complimented our collection. The book was later followed by the exhibition ‘Parade Extract,’ curated by M. Krikstopaityte too.
Are we on the right path supporting female artists?
Not only our personal interest and impulse to search for talented artists, but the international trends play the role too. Women got more recognized in different fields lately: exhibitions and biennials covering specific topics are being organized, museums reconsider their collections, and acquire more female art to make the collection more balanced gender-wise.
Female artists, together with politicians, businesswomen, public activists, get more attention. The changes are not only reflected in visual arts, but in fashion, journalism, or politics. I feel personally influenced by the public attention towards women. And so I ranked mostly women in this year’s Lithuanian Parliamentary elections. The field of this question is much broader than the art scene itself.
Different female artists are finally acknowledged in personal retrospectives or joint exhibitions throughout the world, now museums reconsider their collections. It’s good. However, the near future shouldn’t be about excluding and discussing women’s artist profession anymore. A female artist is no different from a man creator. It’s just a profession.
What artists in your collection are the bravest and most vocal in discussing women’s role and equality in the art scene?
Though this is not the only topic that these artists are interested in, it’s quite frequent in their art and social, political contexts.
My beloved Laisvyde Salciute was born in 1964 in Kaunas. This artist takes an important place in the field of Lithuanian art. She is an authentic artist who does not follow what currently dominates the contemporary Lithuanian art world. Although the artist creates with various mediums – from graphic sheets to embroidery, textile – her most remarkable and expressive works are her drawings. Laisvyde Salciute art’s main idea is that our feelings are formed culturally – they are not learned. Her art is in itself ironic and emotional, exploring the phenomenon of post-emotionality in the Western world of today. In her authentic, subtle, distinctive work, we can also easily recognize the general features of the feminine worldview, as it is viewed through the prism of emotions.
Tschabalala Self – a gem of our collection – was born in 1990 in Harlem, New York. Tschabalala Self’s artistic practice is characterized by the use of varied binding and sewing techniques to accompany paintings and drawings. The artist explores how the body functions as a political and social symbol. Tschabalala Self observes the body as an object of discrimination, whether on the basis of gender or racially.
Monika Fumanaviciute Furmana was born in 1978, Vilnius. In her artworks, she analyses primordial womanhood, questions the identity of a woman in contemporary society. The main figure is the woman’s body, the silk canvas becomes her skin, and by using various painting techniques, she tries to emphasize her pieces’ erotic nature. M. Furmanaviciute’s feminist artworks are filled with inner-feeling and personal experience.