02.06–11.07.2020, Rainis and Aspazija’s Summerhouse, Jāņa Pliekšāna Street 5/7, Jūrmala
The title of the exhibition contains a reference to the well-known Austrian writer Robert Musil’s novel Man without Qualities (“Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften”,1943) and at the same time embraces feminist critique of the prevailing assumption in Western culture of man as the measure of all things (and humanity itself), perceiving woman as his Other, man’s fantasy projection, the dark continent and the inexpressible void. Literary and philosophical references are accompanied by a visual allusion to the iconography of feminist art, which discloses the feeling of affinity over generations, as well as a self-irony: a woman without qualities is like a snail without a shell – shapeless, disproportional, anonymous, unruly and doubtful, but at the same time with sufficient capacity to accommodate the many (and often contradictory) roles assigned by culture. The desire to materialize the trail left by the snail into contemporary works of art is another creative impetus of the exhibition.
Woman without Qualities puts forward an artistic position in which feminist reflection is self-evident. It does not provide definitions, avoids forging identities or drawing strict boundaries, as well as questions the neutrality of art or the need to talk “on behalf of eternity”. Instead, the exhibition embraces diversity, ambiguity and mutability by reflecting on subjects like corporeality, vulnerability, ageing, the fragility of life, creation and renewal. Its venue – the summerhouse where Latvian writer and women’s rights activist Aspazija once lived – symbolically emphasizes the (yet only partly acknowledged) genealogy of feminist ideas in Latvia and encourages to shape new feminist solidarities, communities and encounters.
Artists: Elīna Brasliņa, Krista Dintere, Liene Mackus, Krista Dzudzilo and Sandra Krastiņa.
Exhibition curator and text: Jana Kukaine.
Scenography: Gundega Evelone, Andris Landaus.
Graphic design: Elīna Brasliņa.
Translation: Jānis Frišvalds.