“Dear gatekeepers”, in Icon Magazine, March 2019
Right after our A Woman’s Work symposium, Matylda Krzykowski and I were thrilled to be able to take the conversation on design and gender politics further, as we jointly authored an op-ed in the March 2019 issue of Icon magazine, titled “Dear Gatekeepers”. The op-ed can be read in the Foreign Legion website, below an excerpt:
On 18 January this year, we made our first attempt to dismantle such structures, organising a collaborative conversation at the Museum of Applied Arts in Dresden. Titled A Woman’s Work, the event gathered voices from the discipline of design to discuss the roles and influence of female practitioners. The symposium took place alongside the exhibition Against Invisibility, which rewrote a fraction of modern design history by rescuing the nearly-forgotten stories of female designers working in the Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau in the early decades of the 20th century.
What are the differences between them and us? As design critic Alice Rawsthorn pointed out in the symposium, “we need to build on [past achievements] with a dynamic and critical discourse … While many skirmishes have been won, others await.’
We must ensure that our stories won’t get lost like theirs. We must create spaces for their – and our – voices to be heard once the present generation is long gone. We must ensure that the current enthusiasm doesn’t get lost, and after an object designed by a woman is sold, exhibited, commissioned and exchanged for inflated sums of money, women – and their stories – will remain.
It is the responsibility of the gatekeepers – who write, who teach, who collect, who curate, who sell, who promote, who advocate – to open the gates for the dismantling of past and present conditions, in order to make women’s work, contributions and visibility a permanent condition.
The visual identity of the symposium, developed by Andrea Anner.
On the occasion of the exhibition “Against Invisibility – Women Designers at the Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau 1898 to 1938”, currently on view at the Kunstgewerbemuseum Dresden, Matylda Krzykowski and I were invited to organize a symposium focusing on female practitioners in design. We organized it under the moniker of Foreign Legion, and called it A Woman’s Work, a symposium on the roles, influence and visibility of female practitioners today.
Taking the exhibition as a starting point, A Woman’s Work examines the contemporary, in order to shed light on the invisibility of the female practitioner as it continues to exist today.
Structured in three parts – ‘Advocates of History’, ‘Enablers of Visibility’ and ‘Dismantlers of Existing Conditions’ – the symposium brings together a wide range of practitioners, scholars, writers, critics and curators based in different parts of Europe, aiming to offer transversal, multigenerational and diverse perspectives on the present and the future of female practice.
Throughout the course of one day – 18 January 2019 –, conversations will take place in a variety of formats, creating platforms for exchange and connection. A Woman’s Work aims to bring women in and around design, art and architecture to the fore, advocating for their visibility to become a permanent condition. We hope to see you in Dresden, and that you will join us in conversation!
View of the essay “A Woman’s Work, or Steps Towards the Yin Revolution” in the catalogue of the “Against Invisibility” exhibition.
I co-wrote with Matylda Krzykowski an essay and manifesto for the catalogue of the excellent “Against Invisibility” exhibition at the Kunstgewerbemuseum Dresden. The exhibition focuses on the forgotten stories of the female designers of the Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau. Our essay focused on the present condition of the female practitioner, and outlines some steps towards what we are calling (after Ursula K. LeGuin) “the Yin Revolution”.
The essay (now published in English in Domusweb) is one of the ways in which we are contributing to the program of the exhibition – the other is a symposium on 18 January 2019, called “A Woman’s Work“. Thank you to Tulga Beyerle for inviting us to contribute!