Voicing the silence: an online Russian feminist show champions gender equality

Voicing the silence: an online Russian feminist show champions gender equality
Image: Sarah Browne, The Shambles of Science, 2019, Video, 28:30 minutes (still).

6 August 2021

An online exhibition celebrates the Russian feminist tradition and the shortfalls of today’s legislations in serving women across the world.

Through multimedia artworks,Voicing the Silence, a show put together by the St Petersburg-based Creative Association of Curators TOK, brings together 13 artists from Russia and beyond and combines archival photography, poster art, video work, and installations. The show’s curatorial text champions Russian and early Soviet writer and politician Alexandra Kollontai’s pioneering work in promoting feminist labour legislation, sexual education, and free love.

We wanted to do a feminist show looking at the history of women’s rights over the past centuries, and how their achievements are now erased in different parts of the world, including those considered democratic and progressive,” curators Maria Veits and Anna Bitkina said. In particular, the project responds to the decriminalisation of domestic violence in Russia, Turkey’s Istanbul Convention exit, and the new laws restricting abortion in the USA and Poland.

Among the highlights, Georgian-Russian artist Alevtina Kakhidze’s video, 44, captures a close shot of a woman repeating the word “no” for six minutes. Meanwhile, Natalia Nikulenkova’s Captured Bodies shows school girls in green uniforms dancing against the backdrop of the Russian flag, while, one at a time, they come to the front and answers an adult’s questions on happiness, first love, and dreams for the future. “That wasn’t love. I was bored and broke up with him,” the first respondent says of her early romance. “I am happy when no one touches or bothers me,” explains another.

See the exhibition, running until 19 September, here.

Image: Petra Bauer and Rebecka Katz Thor, And all is yet to be done – image of a journey, 2021, Installation of wallpaper, texts, and images from Kata Dalström archive/Swedish Labour Movement’s Archives and Library, Dimensions variable (detail)
Image: Polina Zaslavskaya, Basics of Contemporary Housekeeping, 2020
Sarah Browne, The Shambles of Science, 2019, Video, 28:30 minutes (still)
Image: Natalia Nikulenkova, Captured Bodies, 2021 Video, poster, performance, personal diaries, objects, 12 min. (video) and 30 min. (performance)

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