Add to the Cake: Transforming the roles of female practitioners

Add to the Cake: Transforming the roles of female practitionersOn the steps of Wasserpalais at Schloss Pillnitz, Museum of Decorative Arts Dresden. Photo by Klemens Renner.

Last 5 July, the Museum of Decorative Arts Dresden held the official opening of Add to the Cake: Transforming the roles of female practitioners, a project I curated with Matylda Krzykowski under the moniker Foreign Legion. The project started with the A Woman’s Work symposium back in January, and then evolved into a two-part exhibition, with a Preview opening back in 26 April.

With Add to the Cake, we wanted to take the conversation started at the symposium further: We commissioned various practitioners such as Ann Kern, Ji-hee Lee, Gabriel Maher and Garret Nelson to think about What happens when you Add to the Cake? — to think about the future. For the exhibition that opened 5 July 2019, spaces were transformed to give way to a series of installations on visions for the future of female practice. Simultaneously, various Visual Fictions by contributors such as Anne Dessing & Michel van Irsel, Gallery Stephanie Kelly, Kamau Patton and OOIEE, act as an expression of desire for something lacking here and now. The exhibition becomes the transformation it heralds, enacting futures that are inclusive, generous, all-encompassing and joyous.

Add to the Cake advocates that we can – and need to – add to the existing “cake”: infinite layers for an expanded canon. Adding to museum collections and to historical accounts, adding to collective memory and to possible futures. Most importantly, we must realise that “adding” enriches the existing context with multiple, varied voices and perspectives.

After the jump, an outline of all the work and new commissions that were developed as part of Add to the Cake, as well as some installation views.

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Add to the Cake: Preview

Foreign Legion and Raby-Florence Fofana amidst the scenography developed for Add to the Cake. Photo by  Jenny Peñas for Freunde von FreundenForeign Legion and Raby-Florence Fofana amidst the scenography developed for Add to the Cake. Photo by  Jenny Peñas for Freunde von Freunden.

Following the A Woman’s Work symposium which I organized with Matylda Krzykowski under our Foreign Legion moniker, we were invited to transform the symposium material into an exhibition at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Dresden. This was an incredible opportunity to further continue working in the themes first developed in the symposium and allowed us to further test and stretch a commonly known format – the exhibition.

We titled the project Add to the Cake: Transforming the Roles of Female Practitioners, and structured it over the course of two iterations. The first was a preview, in which we worked through the themes discussed in the symposium and presented them in a three-dimensional space, surrounded by the many references, examples and role models discussed on that occasion. This was all presented amidst custom scenographic elements developed by Andrea Anner and Raby-Florence Fofana for the occasion.

The second iteration of the exhibition will open on 5 July, and present a variety of visions for the future of female practice specifically commissioned for the show. Below an excerpt of the curatorial text:

Contemporary cultural constructs have us believe that not everyone can get a fair share of the cake, and that only a limited few can write history. In the case of female practitioners in design, architecture and the arts, their erasure from the history and the memory of their disciplines has been systematic; but in the first two decades of the 21st century, they have regained visibility. In this pivotal moment, female practitioners have the chance to usher in an important transformation for their disciplines.

We can – and need to – add to the existing cake: infinite layers for an expanded canon. Adding to museum collections and to historical accounts, adding to collective memory and to possible futures. Most importantly, we must realize that ‘adding’ doesn’t mean ‘taking away’, but that it enriches the existing context with multiple, varied voices and perspectives.  

The exhibition Add to the Cake is an exercise in enacting the kind of transformation that design, architecture and arts are about to experience. It develops over the course of an exhibition, an active public program, and a series of performative moments over the course of six months.

Add to the Cake could not have been developed without the unwavering support of the Museum of Decorative Arts Dresden’s team, especially Nils Hilkenbach. A few installation shots, all by Klemens Renner, can be seen after the jump.

Continue reading Add to the Cake: Preview