Women Artists Take Over EMST

Women Artists Take Over EMST

If you’ve passed down Syngrou Avenue, you’ve probably seen Yael Bartana’s inspiring neon light installation as it preaches a powerful message to passers-by: “What if Women Ruled the World”. Until the end of October 2024, the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens (ΕΜΣΤ) presents a three-part cycle of exhibitions exclusively dedicated to the work of women artists or artists who identify as female, under the umbrella title “What if Women Ruled the World?” With the re-hang of one entire floor of the museum’s permanent collection and a series of twelve solo exhibitions of Greek and international artists of different generations the entire museum will gradually be taken over by women artists.

Yael Bartana. What if Women Ruled the World, North and South Façades

Despite recent advances, as women artists and cultural practitioners are still underrepresented in most aspects of the art world, this project, initiated by the museum’s artistic director, Katerina Gregos, aims to radically reimagine what a museum would look like if, instead of a few token pieces, works by women artists were the majority. She notes: “Especially in a country like Greece, where there was never a prominent organised feminist movement in the visual arts and women artists were systematically marginalised over decades, this is both an important statement and a redressing of a major imbalance. At a time when we are witnessing a resurgence of attacks on women’s rights, the question of female empowerment and gender equality, across the board, is more urgent than ever.” The exhibition cycle posits an oft-repeated hypothetical question: Would the world be a better place if women led governance and were key decision makers? Would it mean the end of political and armed conflict and deadlock? Would human rights be better respected? Would economic policy be more socially equitable and considerate of the environment and our non-human companions? Would there be more discussion and compromise? And, ultimately, would the world be a more caring and compassionate place? Or would we bear witness to the same human flaws, corruption and abuses of power engaged in by those in critical decision- making positions.

Claudia Comte. The Origin of the Shockwave Ripple, Foyer

At a time when we are seeing the rise of male-driven authoritarian rule in Europe and beyond, leading to social and political polarisation and heightened geopolitical tensions, it seems a timely moment for reflection. From 20 January 2024, visitors to the museum will be confronted by the question, What if Women Ruled the World? by way of Yael Bartana’s iconic neon work of the same title. The two installations, one in Greek and the other in English, each 10 metres in height, ware presented on the north and south exterior façades of the museum, interrogating passers-by along one of Athens’ main thoroughfares, Syngrou Avenue.

Part II of What If Women Ruled the World? opens on 9 March 2024 with solo exhibitions of work by Lola Flash, Bouchra Khalili, Tala Madani, and Malvina Panagiotidi, as well as special projects by Yael Bartana, Claudia Comte, and Hadassah Emmerich, while Part III will inaugurate three further solo exhibitions of work by Bertille Bak, Penny Siopis, and Eva Stefani on 11 May 2024.

When: Opening of Part 2 of the exhibition on March 8, at 7.30 pm with talks and performances.

Where: Kallirrois Ave. & Frantzi, Athens. emst.gr

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