The exhibition stems from the need to restore the erased memory of feminist knowledge, practices and genealogies in our country: it is important to recover and make visible the work of artists (some men, but especially women) who were unfairly shunned or forgotten; but it is even more important to reread the recent history of Spanish art from a different stance, with other keys and viewpoints. Not only has the legacy of feminisms been underestimated in the most traditional historiography, but also in many of the accounts of art creation in Spain that are supposed to be more ground-breaking or renovating.
The term “genealogies” alludes to the diversity of ideological sensitivities and positions that traverse the feminist, transfeminist, transgender and queer universe. It also refers to the peculiarities and singularities of the development of feminist policies in the Spanish state, which cannot be interpreted by mechanically extrapolating Anglo-Saxon models. While the emergence of the so-called “feminist art” in the United States and Great Britain is customarily situated in the late 1960s, in Spain it was not until the 90s that the gender discourses began to get mainstream attention in art galleries and institutions (which does not mean that they did not exist, but that they had been neglected or overlooked). In addition, as opposed to their contemporaries inBritainand theU.S., the feminist artists “of the 90s” inSpainwere fundamentally influenced by foreign references: their artistic and theoretical models mainly came from French and Anglo spheres and they rarely had the opportunity to engage in a dialogue (whether intellectually or personally) with their Spanish predecessors. How can this generation gap be explained? Why do we face a history riddled with omissions, faults and discontinuities?
Some hypotheses can be suggested to explain why the artists who emerged in the decade of the 90s were unaware of the work of the pioneers from the sixties and seventies. With the arrival of democracy inSpainartistic discourses were increasingly depoliticized: the official culture promoted the oblivion of artistic practices that had, toward the end of Franco’s regime and the beginning of the Transition, articulated a criticism of the social and sexual norms of the dictatorship, particularly those that questioned machismo and patriarchy. Throughout the 80s, the incipient art institution’s need to equate itself with the European and international context facilitated the surge of formalist and commercial manifestations adapted to market demands, in detriment to a more critical art in which the feminist viewpoint could have been inserted.
The exhibition structure arises from the will to facilitate that dialogue between generations that could not be; to weave a network of convergences and dissidences; to provoke a conversation between works by artists of different ages and contexts, who may nonetheless be united by a mutual discontent in the face of (hetero) patriarchal structures and codes. The exhibits are not arranged in chronological order, because there is not a single story to tell: there are many interwoven voices and experiences here. Nevertheless, the presence of a wide array of magazines, pamphlets, photographs and documents from the era enables us to understand the works in their contexts, reflecting the historical and social changes that have taken place over time.
Through all that wealth and diversity, there is a series of themes and core reflections that reappear over the years and that give rise to the show’s 11 thematic sections: the production of feminine and feminist genealogies; the sexual division of work and the work conditions of women; maternity and caretaking attributed to the female sex; the oppression exerted by aesthetic models and standardized cannons of beauty that, even in our day, are still relentlessly transmitted through advertising, film, television and the Internet; bodily experiences and sexual diversity; militancy and collective struggles; the masquerade and performativity of gender; sexist violence; the role of women in history; the relationship between popular culture and the construction of sexual identities. The last section of the exhibition is devoted to the recent emergence of a set of artistic and activist practices known as “transfeminisms” or “new feminisms”: based on a rejection of the binary concept of sexuality and the essentialist approaches, the “transfeminisms” propose an imaginary and provocative use of performance and new technologies, which challenges the more domesticated discourses of institutional feminism.