Yes, we want all people to have the same rights and opportunities! Yes, we want to use art to raise awareness and to enable sustainable and effective encounters! Yes, we want to contribute to equality and to encourage and empower people who are marginalized or affected by discrimination. And yes, the world would be a better place if we were all feminists: “We should all be feminists!” (C. N. Adichie). The exhibition Empowerment brings together diverse feminist approaches and understands these as progressive methods to analyze the societies of the world with the means of art and to show possible ways out of the global crises.
Despite worldwide movements, demonstrations, and petitions to establish equality, it is still not possible in the twenty-first century to speak of comprehensive gender equality with regard to women and LGBTQIA+ communities—neither in this country nor elsewhere. In many places, structural relationships of power and inequality prevent equal payment or the remuneration of domestic work and ensure oppression and exploitation up to physical violence or even murder: Countless artists worldwide react to these untenable conditions with their works in order to achieve equal and future-oriented life opportunities for themselves and other marginalized people. Now is exactly the right time to gain an overview of how artists imbue their art with political meaning and create such fascinating and evocative works of art.
With the exhibition Empowerment, the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg is for the first time offering such a comprehensive global overview of art and feminisms of the twenty-first century with roughly 100 artistic positions from some fifty countries from all continents. Within the framework of seven thematic fields that have emerged from the worldwide research (Protest & Empowerment, Gender & Identity, Herstories & Other Narratives, Desired & Violated Bodies, Labour of Care, Planetary Challenges, Feminist Futures), the artworks will explore the following questions, among others: How do artists act out of their respective situations in the postcolonial, digital present? What emancipatory understanding underlies their art? How do they broaden their view of a feminist-oriented future? Questions regarding social inequality, sexism, racism, migration, the relationship of bodies, technology, and ecological concerns will also be negotiated. These issues affect everyone.
In order to do justice to these globally significant perspectives, several international networks of scholars, curators, and artists were initiated for Empowerment. Our own research was thus supplemented by artistic proposals from globally active regional experts. The curatorial perspective has also been expanded by the invited collectives Nacional TROVOA (Brazil), Njabala Foundation (Uganda), What the hELL she doin! (Great Britain/ Kenya/South Africa/Uganda), AXA projects (China), and Sandbox Collective (India), each of which will curate their own Guest Space within the exhibition. Empowerment is presented in a scenography designed especially for the show by the award-winning Berlin studio raumlabor.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a comprehensive publication in cooperation with the Federal Agency for Civic Education: Empowerment. Kunst und Feminismen (Art and Feminisms) with contributions by roughly fifty international authors and interview partners, edited by Andreas Beitin, Katharina Koch, and Uta Ruhkamp, with 500 pages, approx. 400 illustrations, German (separate English text edition), available for only 7 € in the museum shop, at kunstmuseum.de/shop, or at bpb.de (plus postage).
Andreas Beitin, Katharina Koch, and Uta Ruhkamp
Regine Epp and Dino Steinhof