press release

Mons Veneris is an expedition into transsexual geographies, border regions, strategic locations, spaces of conflict and isolation, places where identities are fragmented and overlap.

'I always wanted to see an exhibition dealing with female sexuality and desire that wasn't going to fall into a dry and anxious politics or curatorial didacticism ... an exhibition capable of avoiding so-called 'mainstream Feminism'—where political issues have almost disappeared—but refusing to be marginal. After all, Feminism is a dissident political standpoint and a strategy to work with.' (Rosemarie Reitsamer, editor, Female Sequences)

The exhibition brings together pioneering work by some of the women who developed their artistic practice in the 1960s and 70s alongside a strongly political feminist theory, and work by younger artists who made their reputations in the 1990s or who are gaining recognition now in very different circumstances. While, in the 'developed' economies of western Europe, feminism has become mainstream and identity politics a 'lifestyle' issue, this exhibition investigates dissident feminisms and specific aesthetic strategies dealing with sexuality, politics and daily life as well as the experience of women in post-communist countries.

East and central Europe have experienced sudden political change and more than ten years of rapid economic reorganisation during which contemporary artistic practices and discourses have been assimilated along with the other baggage of western capitalism. They have also experienced some of the most brutal forms of identity politics and slowness of social change. The exhibition aims to show that art remains a site where identities can be contested, desire is not always sublime and borders—like the supposed line between art and pornography—are not so easy to draw.

The pornography issue becomes at once more problematic and a lot clearer when it is a matter of artwork by women, especially at a time when the art world seems more eager than ever to adopt material directly from the world of porno, without questioning its own structures of consumption and exploitation. Each in their own way, works by Fiona Banner, Tanja Ostojic (Looking for a husband with EU passport) and Julia Wayne seek to find expression and intervene on this sensitive topic. Banner almost obsessively consumes a porno film, a film not intended for a female subject. She goes through it over and over, she drinks it in, transcribes and transforms it. The distancing effects of Banner's work do nothing to reduce the intensity of her engagement, or to soften the material for the sake of art. Wayne's window installation Discrete Side Entrance, also touches on the theme of subjectivity, subtly disturbing expectations.

Pioneer artists, like Valie Export and Sanja Ivekovic, whose work to some extent still awaits an appropriate historical assessment, showed in their early engagement with the female body how a woman could be come a subject in art and not just an object. Aktionshose: Genitalpanik shows Valie Export in her 'action trousers', machine gun in hand, with her eyes fixed on the camera.

Violence against women, one of the main issues of Feminist theory and activism in the 1970s, is taken up again by Fiona Rukschcio (b. 1972) in her instructional video Self-defence Earflaps, a thoroughly humorous work which nonetheless deals with a serious subject in a poignant way. Works by Mare Tralla and Mara Mattuschka, likewise deploy and absurdist, satirical humour.

Although female homosexuality has become little more than a 'lifestyle choice' in western society, one can hardly find artists accepted by the mainstream who deal with Lesbian sexuality and identity in their work. Artists like the outstanding video-maker, Sadie Benning (also know for her work with the band Le Tigre) have avoided the art world. In her video Desire. Different Codes, Marth compiles clips from existing works foregrounding Lesbian representation and desire. Pressetext

only in german

Mons Veneris: Female Geographies
mit Uli Aigner, Jamika Ajalon, Fiona Banner, Sadie Benning, Ursula Biemann, Anca Daucikova, VALIE EXPORT, Christina Della Guistina, Roza El-Hassan / Milica Tomic, Sanja Ivekovic, Susanna Jacobs, Le Tigre/Elisabeth Subrin, Ly Lestberg, Marth, Mara Mattuschka, Muda Mathis/Sus Zwick, Tanja Ostojic, Fiona Rukschcio, Cindy Sherman, Mare Tralla, Julia Wayne
Koordinatorin: Rosemarie Reitsamer
BeraterInnen: Anthony Auerbach, Anca Daucikova, Marina Grzinic, Sally Tallant