© image taken from: https://vsg.sk/en/echoes-within/

OPENING: Echoes Within

Curators: Štefánia Ďuricová, Korinna Tánczos

Alžbetina 22, Košice

Exhibition duration: 29. 3. 2024 – 25. 8. 2024

Exhibiting artist:

Anna Daučíková, Lucia Dovičáková, Andrea Fajgerné Dudás, Viktória Hitka, Judit Horváth Lóczi, Svetlana Fialová, Anetta Mona Chișa & Lucia Tkáčová, Martina Chudá & Peter Lančarič, Judit Kele, Daniela Krajčová, Eszter Magyar (makeupbrutalism), Kata Mach, Eva Moflárová, Mara Oláh OMARA, Anna Eszter Tóth, Jana Želibská

This group exhibition featuring works by Slovak and Hungarian contemporary female artists explores the relationship between an architectural space, specifically the house or the flat, and the women who live within it through the lens of visual arts. The concept of the ‘house’ or ‘home’ are presented as sources of inspiration for contemporary female artists, with positive, humorous, satirical, yet also critical connotations, reflecting the rich emotional spectrum associated with the notion of home. The exhibition also presents the historical, social, and cultural contexts in which women artists in the post-socialist region have developed their practices. The exhibition goes beyond individual narratives to explore the rich heritage, shared histories and unique cultural identities of Slovakia and Hungary. Our theoretical framework is based around Griselda Pollock’s “spaces of femininity” which reflects on the positionality of woman artists in modernism.

The home is more of a concept, a overarching image of the circle which surrounds us, and one which has always been associated with the female domain. It is a space in which traditional constellations and the division of roles within it remain preserved. Furthermore, the arrangement of the house and its rooms has also been divided between the male and female inhabitants – the female area is associated with the kitchen, bathroom, dining room, living room or bedroom, while the male domain is seen as the study, the hobby room or the entertainment area. These spaces within the home are further divided between ‘public’ and ‘private’ spheres; the private sphere was typically associated with women and the public with men.

These paradigms started to attract criticism from feminist theories which called for a greater sense of equality and challenged male domination of the public domains encompassing power, authority and potency. Nonetheless, have we really achieved complete equality? Amidst the political and populist storm clouds gathering over Central and Eastern Europe and the calls by many for a return to patriarchal gender roles, Echoes Within confronts issues such as the open homophobia and misogyny of Slovak politicians and Hungarian challenges to gender equality. For example, EU’s 2020 equality report reveals the continuing existence of a stark gender gap, with 33% of EU women pausing their careers to raise a family compared to just 1% of men.

The exhibition will be held in an old burgher house on Alžbetiná Street in Košice, housed within a space reminiscent of a nineteenth-century flat in which artists such as Gyula Benczúr and Ákos Aranyossy once lived, imbuing the theme of the house with a symbolic significance. The space has been “reconstructed” as an apartment through works by female artists which examine the themes of the everyday sorrows and joys of women’s lives in their homes. The show also pays hommage to the iconic Womanhouse installation from 1972, the first-ever public exhibition of art centred around female empowerment. This reference adds a layer of continuity to the discourse on women, the home and societal expectations and stereotypes, drawing attention to the enduring relevance of these themes. The presentation of a bathroom evokes the themes of the objectification of the body, beauty standards, body shaming and sexuality. The kitchen, for example, tackles topics under the outdated notion that “women belong in the kitchen”, while other rooms will explore the themes of caretaking, invisible work and the challenges of balancing motherhood and artistic practice. Several female artists from the region address these issues, and while these themes are by no means new, having been openly discussed since the sixties, they nonetheless remain relevant and demand our attention, as gender equality and social justice have not yet been fully achieved. Our aim is to open up discussions of the backward traditionalist ideas that are currently seeing a revival across Europe in opposition to democratic and feminist progressivism. Echoes Within emerges as a platform for spirited discourse, countering the insidious creep of regressive ideologies. With a blend of astute critique and lighthearted humour, the exhibition aims to spark conversations that will resonate far beyond its walls.