Louise Bourgeois lived through the 20th century and died in 2010, at almost 100 years of age. Although her art can be found in the world’s greatest museums – think, for example, of her monumental spiders – it should be recalled that her work was only recognised at a very late stage.
She was indeed 70 years old when the Museum of Modern Art in New York gave her her first major exhibition, which was also the first retrospective devoted by the institution to a woman artist. International exhibitions followed, especially in the 2000s, even though the artist’s career had begun in the 1940s. Although the works of women creators can be found in all artistic fields,art history distinguishes above all male figures, eclipsing the contributions of many women who are relegated to the periphery of the recognition networks. This ‘invisibilisation’
due to male domination is now at the heart of public debate. Recent studies have shown that printmaking, considered a minor art form because of its reproducibility, has long been associated with the feminine, as part of women’s artistic education in the same way as drawing. Today, books and exhibitions about women artists are prolifterating, while showing the plurality of mediums in which their art has developed. The MBAL, which during its long history has exhibited only men – the default norm, as it were – is also seeking to redress this imbalance. For the tenth edition of the TRIENNIAL OF CONTEMPORARY PRINTS, the choice was made to show works by women artists exclusively, not with the idea of locking them into a reductive category, but rather to put into perspective the themes they take up in their art, which is often marked by relationships of domination.
With a real creative freedom, some of them assert themselves without fear of tackling so-called feminine subjects. They experiment with different practices to highlight their perception of the world. From Laia Abril (Spain, 1986) to Billie Zangewa (Malawi, 1973), including Batia Suter (Switzerland, 1967) and Sophie Wietlisbach (Switzerland, 1993), these contemporary artists radiate out from Louise Bourgeois (France, 1911-2010), whose engraved work is exhibited. The Triennial, which has shown over the years that the multiple is not a minor art form, is also the occasion to offer a space to the Zurich-based publishing house Parkett, which brings together more than 90 works produced over the last 30 years by international women artists.
Without being fully aware of it, our gaze has been conditioned according to the values set up a patriarchal system. With this feminine-centered programme, the MBAL shows works that offer a counterpoint to a masculine art form and encourage a renewal of our collective imagination.