Skopje, 27 September 2022 (MIA) — In cooperation with KRIK Critical Culture Festival and Firstborn Girl Festival of Feminist Culture and Action, the National Gallery is hosting a conversation with highly acclaimed artist Šejla Kamerić at Chifte amam at 7 pm, which will be followed by the official opening of her “We Come with a Bow” exhibition at 8:30 pm.
The conversation will be moderated by art theorist and historian Branislav Dimitrijević.
Curated by Natalija Paunić, the exhibition aims to open a critical debate about contemporary art and its responsibility in a culture that oppresses and marginalizes women, the National Gallery said in a press release.
According to the release, “We Come with a Bow” also aims to shed light on ordinary, domestic and familiar everyday elements and highlight issues people usually don’t pay much attention to.
Organizers point out that Kamerić’s works examine the long-standing portrayal of women as witches and/or objects and deal with the concerns of radical feminism, socialist feminism and post-structuralism.
“The exhibition’s title piece, ‘We Come with a Bow,’ features an unusually long, thin red fabric that begins as the typical small bow ornament on women’s underwear and ends up entangling the audience in its own materiality.
“This gesture – the exaggerated lengthening of the bow – plays with the idea of an object that is no longer an object at all, but it has its own life, its own agency and power,” organizers say.
“The metaphorical value contained in this piece exists in many of the others, in various ways. Many of the works remind us of household objects and typically ‘womanly’ routines: knitting, weaving, working around the garden; being a mother; or even ‘being’ a gift, a present to someone (hence, coming with a bow).
“Šejla Kamerić uses these processes and states to explore and question the (de)construction of gender, identity, intimacy, and sexuality, as well as the social, political, and economic subordination of women and their representations within the patriarchal societies and neoliberal capitalism.
“In that sense, the word bow, with this same spelling, could potentially be misread and pronounced differently: this bow refers to bending, a show of surrender, submission, and acceptance, also commonly seen before or after a performance. To read the word differently and view it in this connotation also connects to how women exist in the societies we’ve known so far,” the release notes.
The exhibition will include body of work transferred from her latest solo show in Belgrade, “Mother is a Bitch,” other photographic pieces (“Embarazada” and “Unknown”) as well as works from the series “Hooked”, “Missing,” and “Digital Nudes”.
It will also feature a new work, “Rose Garden” which will continue the exploration of the formal line already shown in “Hooked,” while taking the containment of the female body in a different direction. The crocheted flowers, or more precisely roses (flowers filled with the symbolic meaning of love, power, beauty, sensuality, mysticism, and sacrifice) immediately bring to mind Hortus conclusus, a motif from Christian iconography, popular during the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance.
“As Liz Herbert McAvoy of Swansea Univerity argues: ‘The “to protect the women from sin” idea is disingenuous, although ubiquitous. In most cultures, female sexuality is seen as dangerous to men. By locking them up, they “contain” that threat, whilst at the same time masquerading as protecting women from men’,” organizers add.
Šejla Kamerić (b. 1976, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina) lives and works in Berlin, Istria and Sarajevo. She studied at the Sarajevo Art Academy. In her conceptual practice, including film, photography, objects, drawings and installations, Kamerić examines the politics of memory, the language of oppression and forms of resistance.
She has received widespread acclaim for her poignant intimacy and social commentary at a large number of solo and group exhibitions throughout Europe as well as in New York, Washington DC, Tokyo, Guangzhou, and Marrakech.
Natalija Paunić is a contemporary art curator and writer from Belgrade, Serbia. She graduated in Art from London’s Goldsmiths University in 2017, after earning an MA from the Belgrade’s Faculty of Architecture in 2015. She works as a director at the Eugster II Belgrade gallery and runs a travelling project space, called Voždovačka Galerija.
Branislav Dimitrijević is professor of History and Theory of Art at the College of Art and Design in Belgrade, Serbia. His books include: “Dušan Makavejev’s Sweet Movie” (2017), “Consumed Socialism: Culture, Consumerism and Social Imagination in Yugoslavia, 1950–1974” (2016) and “Against Art: Goran Djordjević, 1979–1985” (2014). He curated projects for the Serbian/Yugoslav Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2003 and 2009. mr/