Must-See Queer Feminist Exhibitions in Europe this Summer

Edited by Anna McNay and Birthe Havmoeller

Inspired by Kathleen Massara’s list 17 Must-See LGBTQ Exhibitions This Summer in New York and California, Anna McNay and I have created Feminine Moments’ list of Must-See Queer Feminist Exhibitions in Europe this Summer. The exhibitions we have selected for this list feature works by Lesbian, Bisexual and Queer Women Artists. The first one on the list, Tamara de Lempicka in Turin, Italy, scores very highly on the red-lips-and-nice-tits-scale (!)
Some of the other exhibitions are more “queer” and some of the women artists are very subtle or academic in the way in which they integrate the queer/homosexual/political queer feminist in their creative practice. All the group exhibitions are mixed, so these exhibitions include works by gay male artists too – the most interesting are perhaps the gay artists from China who will be presented at the Antwerp Queer Arts Festival at the beginning of August.

Tamara de Lempicka

Dates: March 19 – August 30, 2015
Venue: Palazzo Chiablese, Turin, Italy
The exhibition features more than 80 works by the bisexual Polish artist Tamara de Lempicka (1898-1980). It not only showcases de Lempicka’s most iconic erotic paintings of women, it also features erotic drawings, lots of sensual vintage Hollywood-style photographs of the artist and a series of her photographs of nude models. The exhibition gives you the opportunity to discover new aspects of Tamara’s life and artistic career.
Curator: Gioia Mori

Patricia Cronin: Shrine for Girls

Dates: May 9 – November 22, 2015
Venue: Chiesa di San Gallo, Venice, Italy
In her site-specific installation Shrine for Girls, New York-based lesbian artist Patricia Cronin (US, 1963) commemorates three horrendous events: the rape, murder and hanging from trees of three girls in India in June 2014 (the “mango tree rape case”); the kidnapping of 276 female students by the jihadist militants of Boko Haram in Nigeria in April 2014; and the many young women pushed into forced labour in the Magdalene asylums and laundries in Europe and North America from the late-18th century to as recently as 1996. The installation is a collateral event of the Venice Biennale, presented by The Brooklyn Rail Curatorial Projects.
Curator: Ludovico Pratesi

Cabello/Carceller, Francesc Ruiz, Pepo Salazar + Salvador Dalí:

Los Sujetos (The Subjects)

Dates: May 9 – November 22, 2015
Venue: Spanish Pavilion, 56th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy
Artistic duo Cabello/Carceller was formed in 1992 by Helena Cabello (FR, 1963) and Ana Carceller (ES, 1964). Alongside Francesc Ruiz and Pepo Salazar, they are this year’s Spanish offering at the Venice Biennale, in a group exhibition that seeks to reinterpret and reposition Salvador Dalí from a contemporary perspective, exploring the artist as he is known through his words and his interviews. Cabello/Carceller’s work is a site-specific installation entitled The State of the Art _a performative essay. Incorporating elements of performance, film and installation, the work is rooted in feminist methodologies ,queer theory and the Brechtian aesthetic, offering a critical insight into the definition of identity and the political fight of the individual.
Curator: Martí Manen

Here We LTTR: 2002–2008

Dates: May 23 – September 27, 2015
Venue: Tensta Konsthall, Spånga, Sweden
‘A border-crossing approach that is characteristic for queer feminism, a feministic movement that is not so easy to define.’ This exhibition brings together the archives of LTTR, a feminist, genderqueer artist collective, originally based in New York in the 2000s. The collective – whose acronym LTTR can be read in various ways, including Lesbians To The Rescue, Listen Translate Translate Record, Lesbians Tend To Read and Lacan Teaches To Repeat – catalysed a vibrant queer community through collaboration, discourse, journal making and distribution. The collective’s groundbreaking work, including the five issues of the journal, as well as photographs and other documentation of its social energy, is being exhibited for the first time at Tensta Konsthall, where local and international guests connected to LTTR and queer art, activism, and research, will guide a series of walk-throughs.

Homosexuality_ies / Homosexualität_en

Poster: Homosexuality_ies, courtesy of Schwules Museum*Dates: June 26 to December 1, 2015
Venues: Schwules Museum* and the Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin, Germany
Homosexualität_en shows how same-sex sexuality and non-conformist gender identities have been criminalised and socially repressed and it tells the story of the LGBT liberation movement. The section of the exhibition on view at the Deutsches Historisches Museum focuses on historical developments in the fields of society, politics, art, law and science since the “discovery” of homosexuality in the mid-19th century. The section of the exhibition on view at the Schwules Museum* consists of contemporary artworks and addresses the present and future of gender codes and sexualities. Participating artists: Monica Bonvicini (IT/DE), Louise Bourgeois (FR/US), Heather Cassils (CA/US), Michael Elmgreen (DK) and Ingar Dragset (NO), Nicole Eisenman (FR/US), Lotte Laserstein (DE/SE), Lee Lozano (US), Jeanne Mammen (DE), Zanele Muholi (ZA), Henrik Olesen (DK), Andy Warhol (US), Mary Coble (US/SE), Sturtevant (US), Sam Taylor-Johnson (UK) and others.
Curators: Dr. Birgit Bosold, Dr. Dorothée Brill and Detlef Weitz
[Poster: Homosexuality_ies. Photo credits: Heather Cassils and Robin Black ]


Dates: June 17 – July 31, 2015
Venue: Thessaloniki City Hall, Thessaloniki, Greece
The concept of otherness, of the strange or the different is inherent within our identity. In an age that has seen a rise in neo-conservatism, racist, homophobic, lesbophobic and transphobic behaviours, attacks against women and discrimination based on race, nationality, sexual orientation and gender identity, Ident-alter-ity is a group exhibition addressing the issues of gender and self-determination. The exhibition is a part of the 5th Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art. Participating artists: Lynda Benglis (US), Ursula Biemann (CH), Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz (CH-DE/DE), Marianne Darlen Solhaugstrand (NO), Yevgeniy Fiks (RU/US), Kostis Fokas (GR/UK), Hector de Gregorio (UK), Igor Grubic (HR), David Hockney (UK), Deborah Kelly & Tina Fiveash (AU), Majida Khattari (MA/FR), Carlos Motta (CO/US), Slava Mogutin (RU/US), Natasha Papadopoulou (GR), Antonis Protopatsis (GR), Wolfgang Tillmans (DE/UK), Boryana Rossa – Oleg Mavromatti (BG/US-RU), Milica Tomic (RS).
Curators: Theodore Markoglou, Art Historian – Curator at the State Museum of Contemporary Art and Syrago Tsiara, Art Historian – Director of the Contemporary Art Center of Thessaloniki

Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz: Loving, Repeating

copyright Stephan Wyckoff/Kunsthalle WienDates: June 11 – October 4, 2015
Venue: Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria
The queer artist duo Pauline Boudry (CH-DE, 1972) and Renate Lorenz (DE, 1963) present three video-based works and a series of new sculptures, which make up an atmospheric, time-reflective installation as part of Future Light, the visual arts part of the Vienna Biennale 2015. Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz create video performances, making use of a dense net of references to experimental film, the history of photography and underground (drag-) performance.
Curator: Maria Lind, Director Tensta Konsthall, Stockholm
[Press photo: Installation view: Future Light. Pauline Boudry / Renate Lorenz. LOVING, REPEATING, Kunsthalle Wien 2015, Photo: Stephan Wyckoff ]

Criss-crossing Connections. Mette Winckelmann and Concrete Art

Dates: June 20 – August 30, 2015
Venue: Sorø Kunstmuseum, Sorø, Denmark
The 100th anniversary of the amendments to the Danish constitution, which introduced democracy and women’s right to vote in Denmark, has prompted the Sorø Art Museum to cast a critical eye on its own collection and the power structures it represents. Artist and lesbian Mette Winckelmann (DK, 1971) was invited to evaluate the museum’s collections and to reflect on its concrete art acquisitions from the 1950s. She responded by drawing many connections – some obvious, some startling – which linked the collection to various paintings, sketches and textile works from other collections. This web of connections is criss-crossed by links to some of Winckelmann’s own works, which take a dual point of departure in abstract geometric imagery and in classic techniques from textile work.
Curators: Helle Brøns, Sorø Kunstmuseum and Mette Winckelmann

Agnes Martin

Dates: June 3 – October 11, 2015
Venue: Tate Modern, London, UK
This is the first retrospective exhibition of works by Canadian-born painter Agnes Martin (1912-2004) since 1994. The exhibition spans Martin’s entire career, from her figurative paintings of the early 1950s to her grid-based works and line drawings just before her death in 2004. Agnes identified with the Abstract Expressionists, and was born in the same year as Jackson Pollock, but her commitment to linear geometry caused her to be associated in turn with Minimalist, feminist, and even outsider artists. She vehemently denied being a feminist, however, as well as a lesbian (numerous relationships with fellow women artists are known to have taken place) and, at one point, even a woman. Agnes was headhunted in 1957 by gallerist and lesbian Betty Parson, who became her first dealer. Her career was punctuated by episodes of schizophrenia.
Curators: Tiffany Bell and Frances Morris

Claude Cahun – Photographies, dessins, écrites

Claude Cahun Programme coveDates: July 3 – October 31, 2015
Venue: Médiathèque Jacques Demy, Nantes, France
The experimental self-portraits by surrealist artist Claude Cahun (1894-1954), born a native of Nantes, under the name of Lucy Schwob, have gained international recognition and have been exhibited around the world. This exhibition, however, presents not just her photographs but also her graphic works, publications and letters.
Curators: Claire Lebossé and Marion Chaigne
[Cover of the programme by Médiathèque Jacques Demy]

Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore – A Life Defiant

Dates: March 15 – September 6, 2015
Venue: Jersey Museum and Art Gallery, Jersey, UK
French artists and lesbians Claude Cahun (1894-1954) and Marcel Moore (1892-1972) challenged the boundaries of gender and sexual identity, campaigned against tyranny and resisted Nazi occupiers. They created some of the most startlingly original and enigmatic photographic images of the 20th century. They were an extraordinary couple, who lived, loved and worked together for more than 30 years. For the first time this exhibition examines their history of defiance, from the forming of their lesbian relationship in the early 1900s, through Claude’s exploration of her self-image and multiple personalities in conservative post-war France, to her anti-Fascist political protests of the 1930s and anti-Nazi resistance activities of the 1940s.
Organiser: The Jersey Heritage Trust

Germaine Krull (1897-1985) – Un destin de photographe

Dates: June 2 – September 27, 2015
Venue: Jeu de Paume, Paris, France
From nudes to surreal collage, street scenes to portraits, a new exhibition charts the astonishingly modern work of maverick photographer Germaine Krull (1897-1985). A pioneer of photojournalism, bisexual Germaine moved across Europe in the 1920s and 30s, mixing with left-leaning intellectuals and pushing boundaries, both in her work and as a woman. Germaine then settled in Paris where she worked in the 1930s. After serving as a war photographer from 1943–45, she moved to Thailand and then settled in India, where she converted to Buddhism and worked to preserve its cultural heritage.
Curator: Michel Frizot

Nicola Tyson: Goodbye/Hello

Dates: June 10 – July 25, 2015
Venue: Nathalie Obadia, Paris, France
Lesbian artist Nicola Tyson (UK/US) is primarily known as a painter, however drawings are also central to her creative practice. The absurd has always been an important ingredient in her work: humour veering toward the satirical and often the hysterical. In Self-portrait: Weeping (2015), the artist references Picasso’s crying woman, but here it is her own experience that she describes. Nevertheless, her nose seems to double as a penis, literally ejaculating into her face.
Organiser: Nathalie Obadia

Pride Photo Award

Dates: July 31 – August 19, 2015
Venue: Foam Café, Foam, Keizersgracht 609, 1017 DS Amsterdam, Holland
Pride Photo Award is celebrating its fifth anniversary this year. This photography exhibition at Foam challenges mainstream gender stereotypes by showcasing photographs from the previous four editions of the Pride Photo Award exhibition. The works, which show the diversity of LGBT communities and counterbalance the often one-sided images of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people in the media, are made by photographers and artist who consider sexual and gender identity an important, often personal subject. Participating artists: Erica Beckman (US), John Paul Evans (UK), Mads Nissen (DK), Farida de Pauw (UK), Chris Rijksen (NL), Anna Charlotte Schmid (DE), Hinda Schuman (US) and Aldo Soligno (IT).
Curator: Kim Knoppers

Antwerp Queer Arts Festival – Queer Art in China

Poster, Antwerp Queer Arts FestivalDates: August 2 – 9, 2015
Venue: Verbeeck-Van Dyck, Antwerp, Belgium
This summer, the gallery Verbeeck-Van Dyck and Antwerp Queer Arts Festival will present a Chinese LGBT art exhibition. Participating artists are: Yuan Yuan, Xiyadie AKA the Siberian Butterfly, Shi Tou & Ming Ming, Xu Yadong, Huang Yue and Flour. Chinese filmmaker and photographer Yuan Yuan specialises in conceptual photography, combining photography and contemporary art to make her pictures about gender identity.
Organiser: Antwerp Queer Arts Festival
[Antwerp Queer Arts Festival, poster 2015]

Must See Exhibition in Berlin – ‘Homosexuality_ies’

Poster: Homosexuality_ies, courtesy of Schwules Museum*
Poster: Homosexuality_ies, courtesy of Schwules Museum*

Homosexuality_ies / Homosexualität_en

June 26 to December 1, 2015
at Schwules Museum* and the Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin, Germany.

The exhibition shows how same-sex sexuality and non-conformist gender identities have been criminalized and socially repressed and tells the story of the LGBT liberation movement. The section of the exhibition on view at the Deutsches Historisches Museum focuses on historical developments in the fields of society, politics, art, law and science since the “discovery” of homosexuality in the mid-19th century. The section of the exhibition on view at the Schwules Museum* consists of contemporary artworks and addresses the present and future of gender codes and sexualities.

The international artists included in this must see LGBT exhibition are Monica Bonvicini, Louise Bourgeois, Heather Cassils (see the above poster), Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset, Nicole Eisenman, Lotte Laserstein, Lee Lozano, Jeanne Mammen, Zanele Muholi, Henrik Olesen, Andy Warhol, Mary Coble and others. Alongside Homosexuality_ies there is also an big film programme.

Related Link

Exhibition flyer

Global Feminisms: Mary Coble

Video courtesy of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Foundation, published at Youtube in 2010.

Artist talk by queer performance artist Mary Coble (USA)
In conjunction with the exhibition Global Feminisms, feminist artists from more than fifty countries discussed or performed their works in the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art Forum. These artist talks took place during the Center’s opening weekend March 23-25, 2007.

Related Link
Published by Feminine Moments: Mary Coble, Queer Artist and Teacher

Mary Coble, Queer Artist and Teacher

Text: Birthe Havmoeller, November 29, 2011

Mary Coble, photo by Birthe Havmoeller

Mary Coble, photo by Birthe Havmoeller

I met artist Mary Coble for coffee and a chat about her practice as a performance artist and a professor at the Funen Art Academy in Odense, Denmark. Mary Coble joined the Funen Art Academy last year.
Mary explains, “I enjoy teaching at the academy because I’m there to offer guidance and support though my own practice and experience as an artist.” The Funen Art Academy is situated in Odense, the birthplace of the author Hans Christian Andersen. It has appr. 60 students and is based in the town centre of Odense in the ‘Brandts Klædefabrik’ (Brandt’s Textile Mill), a former industrial building, which was turned into a centre for visual arts in the mid 1980s. Mary is teaching part time the academy, as are all of her colleagues too. She is living in Copenhagen. In this way she gets the better of two worlds – a job at a small but innovative art academy and the cultural life of Copenhagen.

We are sitting in Café Biografen, the cafe of the ground floor art cinema of the Brandts  Klædefabrik. Mary’s Academy is on the top floor the building, which also houses Kunsthallen Brandts (The Art Hall at Brandt’s) and Museet for Fotokunst (The Museum of Photo Art). All of which make it a unique and inspiring environment in which to teach art. Mary notes that the pace of life seems slower in Denmark than in the USA, which is something that she enjoys. Mary, who was teaching before she came to Denmark, tells me that her experience teaching in Denmark is very different to her experience at a university in USA. The Danish art students get to spend more time in their studios working on their own practice and via the students’ council of the academy they have more control of how the academy and their education is formulated. Last spring she gave a workshop on performance and this semester the students asked her to hold a photography-based workshop.

Originally Mary was trained as a photographer and she is happy to share her experiences with the students. As only a few of the students have analogue cameras, she decided that as part of the workshop they would experiment with pinhole photography. In her workshop the students were asked to design their own cameras and take photos which, in part, reflect the design of their camera. Raising her students’ awareness about working conceptually when making works of art is a must for Mary Coble. She wants to expand what photography can be and do.

Mary explains: “When I talk about working conceptually for me it means that I have an idea that is my starting point.  As I work I’m open to intuitive moments, discovery and re-formulation that helps shape the final piece. In the end it’s important to me that I have laid a foundation where my viewers can explore some of the ideas that I was initially interested in without the work being too didactic that it tells them what to think or how to read the piece. I’m more interested in posing layers of questions that people will react differently to. I do not expect my students to work as I do. I try to support their own ways of working while offering challenges to their practice as well.”

The academy doesn’t have photography facilities so she and her  students have set up their own darkroom. Alongside the hands-on visual experiments with pinhole photography she exposes her students to fine vintage prints by renowned photographers such as Diane Arbus at The Museum of Photo Art and takes them to see some of the finest quality hand printed Danish photogravures at FotoGrafiske Værksted , Aarhus, and guess what – They love it!

Mary Coble’s teaching is workshop based and she tells me that she loves to select texts, and introduce artist’s works and creative concepts, which she finds interesting and challenging to understand. She brings her selection of materials to the class for her students to discuss. During the course of this dialog about art they get to learn and inspire each other by sharing their different personal views. She sees herself as a facilitator, who brings interesting and challenging works to the workshop and when teaching she relies on her experience as an artist rather than as an academic. Teaching is a very rewarding experience for Mary Coble. She describes it as a learning process, which helps her as an artist as well.

Mary rarely uses photography in her own work currently. Mainly using live performance, installation, and video in her works she explores social issues such as gender, queerness, power, and the division of basic resources.

Mary explains, “Live art is very exciting to me right now. I enjoy the fact that one has to be present to truly experience the work.“

I have spotted that endurance is an essential part of her artistic practice and ask her why art has to be hard work? She doesn’t mind her live performances to be hard work, as she experiences something immensely rewarding during and after the process after. When working with her ideas and creative concepts it is important for her that she find the best possible way in which to manifest them and make her live performance as thought provoking as possible.

Remembering the pain which Mary must have felt when she made her Blood Script performance (2008, USA), where she had 75 derogatory words, which she had collected from the public during a prior performance tattooed onto her skin, without ink, I asked, if she would re-perform one of her performances?  Mary’s answer was: “Only if it makes sense and there is something intriguing about it. Sometimes it’s more challenging and exciting for me to create a new piece.” 

This autumn she is be doing a new live performance titled Fighting Cocks in Toronto, Canada and she will be performing Source Dublin: Field of Water  in Dublin, Ireland on December 3, 2011.

Related Links

Toronto: Commitment Issues

Commitment Issues  – Curated by Jess Dobkin takes place November 16 + 17, 2011 in Toronto, Canada. The event presents an selection of works by international performance artists and in addition to the evening of performance art, the artists and curator speak about the work and the event in a panel discussion after the event.

Commitment Issues: An Evening of Performance Art
Wednesday November 16, 7-10 pm
Oasis Aqualounge
231 Mutual Street, Toronto, Canada
$15 admission – $12 students/seniors/underemployed

Processing: Artists’ Panel & Reception
Thursday November 17, 7:30-9:30 pm
Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse, U of T
79A St. George Street, Toronto
FREE / open to all 

Jess Dobkin Invites You to Join Her:
“Welcome to Commitment Issues, an evening of performance art at Oasis Aqualounge, where site-specific performances take place in an outdoor heated swimming pool, steam room, hot tub and locker room. Come for the performances and then stay late to enjoy the Aqualounge’s amenities, which also include a sauna, two licensed bars, and multiple lounges. Secure lockers and towel service are provided.
Commitment Issues presents the work of five artists who use their bodies as the primary source material for investigating qualities and dimensions of commitment—to ideas, to performance, to audience, and to themselves. Through play, risk, ritual, and sexuality, these artists transcend fixed social, psychological, physical, and spiritual notions of commitment. Here, commitment is positioned as a subject and a substance that artists can stretch and subvert in the creation of their work, altering terminology, definition, and association. With this in mind, the artists have written their own personal definitions of “commitment,” indirectly offering a key to understanding their work (see reverse).
You are also invited to Processing, a panel discussion in which the artists and the audience gather to celebrate, pose questions, and share responses to the works presented in Commitment Issues. Commitment is an exceptional word, often used in varying and oppositional contexts, laden with social value and judgment. It can stand as an expression of agency and autonomy, as an exercise of one’s will, or else as a state of consignment or confinement wherein liberty is denied. We might commit to a relationship or to winning the big game, but we can also be committed to prison or a mental institution. In its active state, commitment is a learned practice, not an emotion or fixed state of
being. It is an engagement and a process; something that requires us to be both in the present moment and to think about the future. What does commitment mean to artists and how does it manifest in their work? For a performance artist, what is the connection between commitment and the physical/spiritual body?”

The Featured Artists:
Dana Michel, Alecia Grant, Dominic Johnson, the Pole Club and queer artists Mary Coble and Heather Cassils.

MARY COBLE is renown for using her performance, video, and installation to challenges herself and others to critically consider their reactions and interactions with social issues of injustice. Jess Dobkin writes about Mary Coble’s new performance for Commitment Issues that in this work Mary is “bound by a course of action, a commitment to see something through. Her work asks: How does one commit to something that is unknown, untested? Is commitment a guarantee or merely a promise? For Fighting Cocks, Mary has recruited a second performer, a near stranger, who partners and parallels her as they engage together and simultaneously reflect an internal dialogue.The power of commitment is the power to embrace the unknown”.

Mary Coble About FIGHTING COCKS:

1 full engagement mentally and physically in a praxis of investigation that is felt to be personally and socially urgent.
2 the introduction of the potential for a “sincere” experience for both the artist and viewer.
3 the insertion of queer questioning regarding power, privilege, categorization and normalization a example: <queer masculinity> No exact results found for “queer masculinity”. Did you mean: “questionable, tomboy, kinky, feminine, unsettled, sissy, emasculated, counterfeit, androgynous, weirdo, effeminate, aberrant, boyish, unmanly, abnormal, gay, weakened, trans, abnormal, butch, fabricated, freaky, womanly, fake, impotent, suspicious, irregular?”

FIGHTING COCKS by Mary Coble, performed with D. Eli Campanaro, takes place in a Locker Room on 2nd Floor at Oasis Aqualounge in Toronto, Canada.

Jess Dobkin’s description of Heather Cassils’ performance reads “In Teresias, HEATHER CASSILS consciously pushes the limits of her body with the knowledge that her boundaries are fixed so that she can explore their furthest edges. We see the performance as extreme, but like an athlete, she is regimented and precise. It is an exploration of the artist’s mental and physical parameters with a politic in mind. Through a tough dare, she speaks to issues of social power and control, but also to the artist’s own power and control of her physical body, her physique and transgender expression. There is an element of queerness in (her) performances, not in regards to sexual identity, but in their unconventional and politicized notions of commitment; to social engagement, to collaboration, and to expression. It recalls a legacy of queer culture based not in heteronormative values, but rather in community; imagined, sought, and nurtured.”

Heather Cassils’ Teresias takes place in the steam room at Oasis Aqualounge. Further details about the programme and the other artists are available at the Fado Performance Art Centre’s website.

About Curator and Performance Artist Jess Dobkin
Jess Dobkin is an out and proud queer artist based in Toronto, Canada. Her performances, artist’s talks and workshops are presented internationally at museums, galleries, theatres and in public spaces. She lectures and perform art workshops in Canada, USA and Europe.

Related Link
Jess Dobkin’s website
Jess Dobkin’s Artist Statement at Feminine Moment: Jess Dobkin – A Loud & Proud Performance Artist