On the steps of Wasserpalais at Schloss Pillnitz, Museum of Decorative Arts Dresden. Photo by Klemens Renner.
Last 5 July, the Museum of Decorative Arts DresdenÂ 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, andÂ then evolved into a two-part exhibition, with a Preview opening back in 26 April.
With Add to the Cake,Â 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 aboutÂ What happens when you Add to the Cake?Â â€”Â to think about the future. For the exhibition that openedÂ 5 July 2019,Â spaces were transformed to give way to a series of installations on visions for the future of female practice. Simultaneously, various Visual FictionsÂ by contributors such asÂ 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 exhibitionÂ becomes the transformation it heralds, enacting futures that are inclusive, generous, all-encompassing and joyous.
Add to the CakeÂ advocates that we can â€“ and need to â€“ add to the existing â€œcakeâ€: infinite layers for an expanded canon.Â Adding to museum collections and to historical accounts, adding to collective memory and to possible futures. Most importantly, we must realise that â€œaddingâ€ enriches the existing context with multiple, varied voices andÂ perspectives.
After the jump,Â an outline of all the work and new commissions that were developed as part ofÂ Add to the Cake, as well as some installation views.
Exhibition view, with works by Gertrud Kleinhempel, Irmgard Harras and Erna Sandig. Photo Klemens Renner.
Why were women written out of this historical frame?
Building on the work thatâ€¨ was initiated inÂ Against InvisibilityÂ by the Museum of Decorative Arts Dresden, the work ofÂ Gertrud KleinhempelÂ is complemented by two further designersÂ who had been forgotten, and which the exhibition Gegen die Unsichtbarkeit [Against Invisibility] and subsequent research allowed to rediscover: textile designerÂ Irmgard HarrasÂ and designerÂ Erna Sandig, whose work is here presented to the public for the first time after a long disappearance.
For Your Information (FYI). Photo Klemens Renner.
Do you understand your reality?Â
For Your Information (FYI) â€“ A non-Âperiodical newsletter of women-Ârelated current articles byÂ Chrissie MuhrÂ andÂ JiÂhee Lee
This non-periodical newsletter of current articles related to women offers a subversive take on contemporary news, skewing and decentering the media landscape. In a continuous collection of national and international news, the project invites a new reading of womenâ€™s current and future place in the media, and gives visitors access to this information flow.
Sign up atÂ email@example.comÂ
Subject: For Your Information
Unstable Signs as Radical Tools. Photo Klemens Renner.
What if we present reference points and messy histories for building knowledge of unstable signs as radical tools?
Unstable Signs as Radical Tools byÂ Garrett NelsonÂ &Â Anja Kaiser
Unstable Signs as Radical Tools offers a future of work where unstable signs become radical tools. Using as a starting point Sheila Levrant de Brettevilleâ€™s 1974Â Women in DesignÂ conference poster, they propose reference points for building knowledge and awareness of unstable signs as radical tools, opening visual and narrative spaces for revolution.
Futuress. Photo Klemens Renner.
What stories and theories have not yet been recorded or formulated?
Futuress byÂ Ann KernÂ &Â CommonÂ InterestÂ Â (futuress.org)
This project questions who writes history and whose histories are told. It is a feminist library of blind spots, untold stories, and missing narratives within history and theory, in he form of a collectively built, continuously growing online repository. Futuress invites all to contribute to the active writing of past, present and future history.
Submit a book atÂ futuress.orgÂ | ContactÂ firstname.lastname@example.org
Call for Collective Representation. Pictured: Adeola Enigbokan, Alice Rawsthorn, Aynouk Tan, Carly Rose Bedford, Lonny van Ryswyck, Nadine Sterk, Riksa Afiaty, Simona Castricum, Yandell Walton & Yetunde Olusanya. Image by Gabriel A. Maher and Ina Weise.
Can you only dream what you have seen?
Call for Collective Representation byÂ Gabriel MaherÂ &Â Ina Weise
This project is an open call for a future where womxn* are visible â€“Â womxn of colour, queer womxn, all who participate in the definition of womxn and trans & non-binary identities.
*Womxn*Â is an attempt to a more inclusive term that not only sheds light on the prejudice, discrimination, and institutional barriers womxn have faced, but to also show that womxn are not an extension of men. The term is more intersectional than womyn because it includes trans-femme and non-binary identities.
When Designers started wearing trousers byÂ Sara de Campos.Â “I see this future where opportunities are given equally both to women and men, and it looks to me as normal as Iâ€™m wearing my jeans today.”
What happens when we have added to the cake?
The Visual Fictions offer glimpses of the future of the practiceâ€”complex, multilayered, polyphonic and ambitious. The narrators of these fictions come from all realms of art, architecture and design, diverse geographies and origins:Â AssociatesÂ Associates,Â Sara de Campos,Â Fictional Journal,Â Anne DessingÂ andÂ Michiel van Iersel,Â Marie Herwald HermannandÂ Anders Ruhwald,Â ZoeÌˆ RittsÂ and OceÌane ReÌveillac,Â Galerie Stephanie Kelly,Â Kosmos Architects,Â Oliver Klimpel,Â Alexandra MidalÂ and Emma Pflieger,Â Kamau Patton,Â Martha Poggioli,Â Alejandra Navarrete LlopisÂ andÂ Naho Kubota,Â OOIEE,Â James Taylor-Foster.
Exercise to Unlearn the Canon. Photo by Klemens Renner.
How can you learn anew?
Exercise to Unlearn the Canon byÂ Vivien Tauchmann
This is an invitation to practice changing power dynamics through tactile and bodily engagement. As a series of experiential performative interventions, the participants inÂ Exercise to Unlearn the CanonÂ become the material itself, exploring the capabilities of our bodies to extend the individual experience of our environment and thus provoke behavioral change. The performance references texts by Sara Ahmed, Margarete Stokowski,Â KimberlÃ© Crenshaw and Audre Lorde. This was performed duringÂ Dresdenâ€™s Museumâ€™s Night, 6 July 2019.
Ritual of Self-Empowerment. Photo by Klemens Renner.
How does an alternative world look and feel like?
Ritual of SelfÂ-empowerment byÂ Pinar&Viola
In this personal presentation, Pinar Demirdag of artist duo Pinar&Viola discusses her selfÂ-growth process in recent years, sharing her journey towards consciousness and breaking out of conventions and expectations.
The patterns in the video are from the Alternative Collection by Pinar&Viola which celebrates an alternative world system and a more conscious, loving and unifying existence.
Exhibition view, entrance room. Photo by Klemens Renner.
How can we make space for a multitude of voices?Â
Multiverse byÂ Julia E. Dyck
Working with analogue synthesis and a small group of voices, this composition is a soundscape for a speculative nonÂplace. Driven by the passage â€œAdd to the cake / Add to the canonâ€, the shifting atmosphere reflects spontaneous creation and the continuous conversion of energy into matter.
Listen to the soundpieceÂ here.