“Dear gatekeepers”, in Icon Magazine, March 2019Â
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 weÂ jointlyÂ authored an op-ed in the March 2019 issue of Icon magazine, titled “Dear Gatekeepers”.Â 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 Womanâ€™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 WerkstÃ¤tten 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, â€œwe need to build on [past achievements] with a dynamic and critical discourse â€¦ While many skirmishes have been won, others await.â€™
We must ensure that our stories wonâ€™t get lost like theirs. We must create spaces for their â€“ and our â€“ voices to be heard once the present generation is long gone. We must ensure that the current enthusiasm doesnâ€™t get lost, and after an object designed by a woman is sold, exhibited, commissioned and exchanged for inflated sums of money, women â€“ and their stories â€“ will remain.
It is the responsibility of the gatekeepers â€“ who write, who teach, who collect, who curate, who sell, who promote, who advocate â€“ to open the gates for the dismantling of past and present conditions, in order to make womenâ€™s work, contributions and visibility a permanent condition.