Curators Look to Murakami to Create 1Q84-inspired “Feminist Utopia”

Curators Look to Murakami to Create 1Q84-inspired “Feminist Utopia”
Clarisse d'Arcimoles, Brittania (2012), From the series Forget Nostalgia
(Courtesy of the artist and Breese Little, London)

In Huraki Murakami’s cult trilogy 1Q84, the heroine Aomame enters an alternative reality by walking down an emergency staircase on a Tokyo highway. Curators Marcelle Joseph and Lydia Cowpertwait have “hijacked this concept of a parallel world,” Joseph told BLOUIN ARTINFO UK, to focus on works by female artists collected by women.

The show opens on September 18, 2013 at Lloyds Club in London. The idea, Joseph continued, is to ask the question: “if there was a parallel world conceived by women, what would it look like? Would it be a matriarchal society? Or would it be a world where men and women were more equal on all fronts, with no glass ceiling to break through?”

The curators have gathered a disparate group of seven collectors, ranging from patron and editor Maryam Homayoun Eisler – a prominent figure of the Iranian diaspora in London – to curator and lecturer Sacha Craddock, until recently programme director at Max Wigram Gallery.

All the artists presented in the show — including Phyllida Barlow, Beckey Beasley, Louise Bourgeois, Tracey Emin, and Paula Rego – are represented in the selected collections. Half of the works are on loan, the other half is on consignment and available for sale.

The issue of gender equality in the art world made the headlines recently, when Jonathan Jones wrote a controversial blog for the Guardian stating that art critics were partly to blame for female artists’ lesser visibility. And as BLOUIN ARTINFO UK’s own Rob Sharp pointed out in a response to his piece, only 5% of London galleries represent male and female artists in equal proportions.

Although Joseph hesitated to describe herself as a feminist, she was quick to point out women artists’ “struggle”, citing as example the painter Rose Wylie, “discovered” in her mid-70s, and Yayoi Kusama, who had her first Tate retrospective in her 80s. “Women have to work harder to prove themselves and to get respected,” she said.

2Q13, September, 18 – December, 5, 2013, Lloyds Club, London