100 Jahre/Years VBKÖ Festschrift

The anniversary publication, the Festschrift, has been elaborated for the centennial anniversary of the association of women artists in Austria, the Vereinigung bildender Künstlerinnen Österreichs (VBKÖ, Austrian Association of Women Artists), founded in Vienna in 1910. The Festschrift advocates for a discourse ‘For The Long Revolution’ of artistic women’s movement/s (in Austria and worldwide). It fulfills VBKÖ-demands for a stronger thematization of terms such as National Socialist regime, visual arts, women artists, institutions, organizations, co-complicity, memory and remembrance. In the chapter ‘What Ever We Are’, among others, it therefore also takes up current identity debates.

Authors and Contributors:

100PosterClub, Hamra Abbas, Humaira Abid, Amanda Amaan, Fahim Amir, Claudia Arozqueta, Elke Auer, Gülsen Bal, Christa Bittermann-Wille, Sabine Breitwieser, Hyun Jin Cho, Carla Cruz, Katy Deepwell, Ricarda Denzer, Valie Djordjevic, Lina Dokuzovic, VALIE EXPORT, Eduard Freudmann, Vlatka Frketic, Jasmina Hirschl, Elisabeth Kittl, Veronika Kocher, Rudolfine Lackner, Ana Hoffner, Helga Hofmann-Weinberger, Meike Hopp, Kathy Rae Huffman, Eva Jantschitsch, V. Nino Jaeger, Julie M. Johnson, Tatiana Kai-Browne, Naiza H Kahn, Barbara Karahan, Angelika Kaufmann, Elke Krasny, Ulrike Krippner, Marissa Lobo, Ivana Marjanovic, Diana McCarty, Iris Meder, Verena Melgarejo Weinandt, Karin Nusko, Tazeen Qayyum, Sascha Reichstein, Us(c)hi Reiter, Johanna Schaffer, Nina Schedlmayer, Renate Schnee, Gabriele Schor, Esther Straganz, Natascha Vittorelli, WASSINQUE INC., Julia Wieger, Simone Wille


100 Jahre/Years VBKÖ Festschrift by Rudofline Lackner

Erika Almenara | University of Michigan

Rudolfine Lackner (Hg.in/Ed.): 100 Jahre/Years VBKÖ Festschrift, VBKÖ: Wien 2011, FarbeSW/ColorBW, 480 Seiten/Pages, € 19,10, 978-3-200-02201-0

It is undeniable that the word is still male dominated. In this volume, The Austrian Association of Women Artists (VBKÖ) destabilizes this domination by recovering and making visible the historically silenced voices of women artists. The book invites readers to listen to and recognize these voices for their power of resistance. Rudolfine Lackner’s discerning selection of essays and histories catalogue artistic projects that reveal both violence against women, as well as debates concerning issues of gender and sexuality.

The book brings to light unrepresented feminist practices and reflects on the limitations of official, normative histories that denied spaces for women’s artistic production. July M. Johnson’s essay, “The Ephemeral Museum of Old Mistresses: A Tale of Two Exhibitions” calls attention to marginalizing historic discourses that perpetuated inequalities and excluded women’s art in Vienna.

The volume reviews women’s artistic movements and specific works performed within the contexts of cultural and political events. Claudia Arozqueta’s article on women’s death in Mexico, and Tatiana Kai-Browne and Verena Melgarejo’s Weinandt’s essay discussing the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts’ complicity with Nazism are critical examples of the above-mentioned cultural and political contextualizations of women’s artistic movements and performances. Kai-Browne and Melgarejo’s analysis pays special attention to the impact that the era of National Socialism had on the efforts of women’s artistic movements. Additionally, this essay considers the development of VBKÖ’s work and its consequent interruption by the regime.

Other essays in the publication focus on patriarchal globalization’s misrepresentation of the female experience in the art scene. In this context, by signaling the continuities and developments of women’s artistic movements, the book reappropriates an ignored memory. In turn, recalling the memory of women artists and their efforts to reinscribe feminist art practices within a broader art scene empowers women within the context of the global feminist struggle. Sabine Breitwieser’s text, “From Female Creativity to Practices of Feminism: Several Women’s Initiatives in Austria” is suggestive in this regard. The author indicates the liberating potential of VALIE EXPORT’S work, and explains EXPORT’S work on television as threatening to the phallocentric machinery’s touting of a heteronormative logic and social construction.

Additionally, the 100 Poster Club included in the volume addresses the topic of sexuality, as they incorporate queer content and promote dialogue based on associated topics. For example, one author indicates the imperative “to meet and chat and bring thoughts, attitudes, statements and wishes on paper and on the streets of Vienna.” The article “Unique Individuals and Survival, or Connecting the Interior and the Exterior or the Freedom to be Irrational or Off the Top of my Head or Heart on my Sleeve, etc.” discusses “alternative sexualities” inspired by the feminist movement. These sexualities serve as “an emancipation model and example” of feminist resistance. Moreover, the volume considers conceptualizations of identity for the female artist. For example, “Kuratiert von Elke Auer, Eva Egermann, Esther Straganz und Julia Wieger. Textbeiträge von Fahim Amir, Elke Auer und Julia Wieger” review of the show “Dear Anus”. It proposes the anus as a site from which gender-based ideologies of domination can be challenged. Furthermore, the intersectional essay “Reproduction as Oppressive Appropriation or as Artistic Resistance: Strategies of Gendered and Queered bodies” enriches the volume’s treatment of gender and sexuality through an analysis of class, capital and gender, and their role in generating violence against non-normative subjectivities.

The Austrian Association of Women Artists (VBKÖ) publication reinforces an historical continuity in the development of and production arising from women’s artistic movements. It does so by connecting past events with the future of the feminist movement and struggle. For this reason, the project does not limit itself to producing a closed historical text. On the contrary, it confirms that the discourses of women’s artistic movements are open-ended and evolving. Above all, the volume encourages readers to ask the question: where do we go from here?

A native of Peru, Erika Almenara studied Translation, Interpretation and Hispanic Literature in The Peruvian Pontifical Catholic University. She got her Masters Degree in Spanish at University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. Her research interests include twentieth-century Latin American Literature and subaltern communities. Erika’s recent publications include the books of poems Reino Cerrado (2006) and Para evitar los rastros (2009). She has been published in magazines as Divergencias and Sinister Wisdom, among others. One of her essays, “El cuerpo como metáfora del barrio en Por la patria de Diamela Eltit”, was published in the Spring 2008 edition of the magazine El Cid. She just published the article “La poesía como terapia para José Fernández en De sobremesa de José Asunción Silva” in the Winter 2009 edition of Divergencias Revista de Estudios Linguisticos. Currently she is going for her PhD in Spanish at the University of Michigan.

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