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Feminist Art Seeks to Raise Awareness

St. Petersburg showcase of feminist art at Borey gallery features lectures on women’s issues alongside the art.

Published: February 27, 2014 (Issue # 1799)



  • Yana Smetanina’s drawing from the graphic story ‘Inmates of the 5th Psychiatric Clinic in Khotkovo.’
    Photo: Yana Smetanina

  • ZhENA Group’s stencil graffiti addresses the fear of saying ‘no.’
    Photo: ZhENA Group

Feminist Pencil 2, an exhibition of socially-engaged art made by women held in Moscow in October and November 2013, comes to St. Petersburg, even if in an abridged form and not with complications.

Curated by artist Viktoria Lomasko and art researcher Nadya Plungyan, the Feminist Pencil concept dates back to 2012, when a small exhibition by six artists was held at the at Fabrika hostel in Moscow.

In 2013, the project won support from the Moscow branch of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, one of the largest political education institutions in Germany, and featured about 40 artists. The exhibition was held as part of the MediaUdar (MediaImpact) festival as part of the Fifth Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art and was accompanied by a catalog.

Related: Viktoria Lomasko’s Portraits of Life

The genres covered by the more than 20 artists to be exhibited in St. Petersburg include paper stickers, activist posters and leaflets, graffiti, graphic stories and graphic reports as well as artist’s books.

According to Lomasko, many local galleries refused to host the exhibition when she attempted to bring it to St. Petersburg soon after it had closed in Moscow.

“The reason is that there’s still no recognition of feminist art [in Russia]; there is no one with a venue or the resources ready to support it,” Lomasko told The St. Petersburg Times ahead of the opening.

“The word ‘feminism’ scares people: ‘What is this?’ they ask. ‘Will they be talking about how they hate men?’ While everything is clear with exhibitions of complex conceptual art — there is an unstoppable deluge of such exhibitions — there is no niche for what we do yet. We’re creating that niche right now. It is no wonder that we face difficulties.”

According to Lomasko and Plungyan, the idea to create the independent Feminist Pencil art group and exhibition arose following an incident at the Worker and the Collective Farm Woman Museum and Exhibition Center in Moscow in 2013, when work by Lomasko and Umnaya Masha was removed from the exhibition “Feminism: From the Avant-Garde to Today.”

The organizers claimed that the works did not fit due to a limited amount of space and their allegedly poor quality. The artists believe it to be an act of censorship because the works mentioned the then-imprisoned feminist punk group Pussy Riot and religion.

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A retrospective of the films of Roman Polanski starts today at Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt, with a screening of ‘Repulsion’ at 7 p.m. and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ at 9:15 p.m. The series runs through Feb. 4 and will include Polanski's eminently creepy ‘The Tenant,’ the cult comedy ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’ and ‘Cul-de-sac’ among others. Tickets are 150-200 rubles and the complete schedule is available at www.vk.com/artpokaz/



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