N°27 National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington D.C., USA
N°27 National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington D.C., USA
N°27 National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington D.C., USA
October 2022-February 2023

AS LONG AS generations change but our struggles stay the same, I will be a feminist.

SOLANGE goes to Washington! After 26 large-scale embroidery interventions on construction sites in Europe and Morocco, Austrian artist Katharina Cibulka is taking a big leap and bringing her serial art project to public space in the United States.

The NMWA (National Museum of Women in the Arts) in Washington D.C. has invited the artist to cover approximately 1000 m2 of its façade with her largest embroidered scaffolding net to date. This is a great honor and new challenge for Cibulka. Her oversized pink messages advocate a fair society beyond the boundaries of gender, race, background and religion.

In keeping with the participatory spirit of SOLANGE, the NMWA initiated an open call for friends of the museum to submit their own ideas for a SOLANGE sentence. From these submissions, a central theme soon emerged: the sobering fact that many (feminist) demands have been made repeatedly for decades and yet remained unfulfilled. Echoing the saying “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” Cibulka and her team developed a sentence aimed at a broad, critically thinking public:

AS LONG AS GENERATIONS CHANGE BUT OUR STRUGGLES STAY THE SAME, I WILL BE A FEMINIST.

With this message, the artist spotlights all marginalized groups that must repeatedly and vigorously – and across generations – demand equal rights. Massive disadvantages on all socio-political levels do not affect “only” women, but also LGBTIQ and People of Color, particularly when intersecting.

Katharina Cibulka comments:

“Young people in particular are often unaware how much earlier generations had to fight for their rights, how hard the struggle has been. Equality is taken for granted and perceived as lasting. This is a fatal error. Our rights are fragile and – depending on the political constellation – can be eroded at any time. This realization is a recurring and painful experience.”

The artist often receives messages from older women who can’t believe that in 2022 we still have to stand up for the same causes as 50 years ago, sometimes even using the same slogans. The SOLANGE sentence wants to raise awareness for the fact that history painfully repeats itself and that we must not accept massive social setbacks without scrutiny.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2022 ruling to overturn legal and safe reproductive care came as an incredible shock to many liberal Americans. Mothers and grandmothers who took to the streets for this right decades ago are now wondering what the new legal situation means for their children. The consequences of this ruling across the country, particularly in marginalized communities, are profound.

In Europe, too, we are witnessing backlashes in fundamental rights. Conservative forces are successfully garnering votes by propagating backward-looking, purely binary ideas of gender. These developments show how urgently we need to pay attention to existing imbalances and cultivate conversations on the importance of equality in modern and open society.

In Cibulka’s vision for the future, coming generations will no longer be held up by outdated gender discrimination. They need the freedom to work for global peace and a fair distribution of resources. Equality and equity are the basis for our collective efforts to preserve our planet:

Women and marginalized people are at the very center of the multi-layered problems the global community needs to solve today – the war in Ukraine, the climate crisis, pandemics, a lack of resources in the care sector. These gigantic challenges can only be mastered in a concerted effort. I see feminism as a necessary tool and endeavor in creating mutual understanding. We need to act quickly and hand in hand. The time of exploitation is over, universal solidarity is an absolute must!”

In this sense: Come join us in spreading equality!

 

© Fotocredits: Kevin Allen