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DEAR LADIES, THANK YOU - Ljubljana (second version)

Performance presented in Kapelica Gallery 2011
Idea, performance and technology: Ana Čigon
Additional technical support and programming: Vasja Progar

The performance Dear Ladies, Thank You critically addresses the issues of (in)visibility of women artist in the art world. Instead of addressing my critique directly to the public sphere, and instead of analysing statistical facts about the presence of women artists' works in contemporary art institutions, or the presence of women artists in art history books, art critique text etc., I have taken myself - my memory/knowledge as a criterion and object of analysis. The reason for analysing the personal memory/knowledge was the comprehension of the subjectivity as a construction of public, political, and social sphere. My thesis was that the examination of ones memory, her/his knowledge and behaviour, could reveal deeper structures and underlying ideology of the society the particular subject is part of.

The performance Dear Ladies, Thank You was made in various formally and conceptually different variations. The variation in Kapelica Gallery in Ljubljana was the second one. The beginning of this performance started long before the actual event, when I wrote down on a piece of paper as many artists' names as I could think of. By doing this 'memory test' I came up with 126 male artists names and 34 female artists names. After learning that such a small percentage of the artists I remembered/knew, were women, I decided to make a statement about this problem by learning the same amount of female artist names by heart (as I knew of male artists) and make a representation of this act in a performance. I chose to act on the imbalanced state in the art world by radically shaping and balancing my own memory.

For the performance in Kapelica Gallery I learned 126 names of women artists in a predefined order. When looking for new female artists to learn I tried to look for artists who once were known or should now be known because of their achievements. Beside their names I also learned basic facts about their work and biography.

The names of 126 male artists were written on the gallery floor before the beginning of the performance. During the performance, I spoke out the names of the 126 female artists I learned, and at the same time wrote their names down on the floor, filling this way the empty gaps between other (male) artists. The performance also involved using a head-mounted wireless camera that constantly filmed my face, a projection that showed the image of my face true the perforation of the artist's names and dynamic lightning of the space that reacted to the speed and quantity of my writing. The technology was used to convey the idea about the issue of forgetfulness of art history and art theory.

The third version of the performance was again modified and prezented in Zagreb. More about this version is written bellow.

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DEAR LADIES THANK YOU - Zagreb (third version)

Idea, performance and technology: Ana Čigon
13/10/2011, outdors: Prolaz sestra Baković, Zagreb, Croatia
Additional technical support and programming: Vasja Progar

After having the performance in Ljubljana, I was invited to perform again in Zagreb. The third performance was presented during a feminist conference entitled REDacting, TransYugoslav Feminisms: Women’s Heritage Revisited. In Zagreb the performance was presented outdoors in the street Prolaz sestra Baković, which was named after two sisters who fought against fascism.The location was chosen in accordance with Red Min(e)d curatorial collective (Danijela Dugandžić Živanović, Katja Kobolt, Dunja Kukovec and Jelena Petrović), who organized the artistic event alongside the REDacting feminist conference. They entitled it Bring In Take Out – Living Archive, which was dedicated to feminist art in (post)Yugoslav space. We have chosen this location because there are very few streets in general that are named after women and this street in particular was interesting since in 1990s the street lost the names of the Baković sisters. It was replaced by a male name, but fortunately it received back the original name in 2009. The area where the performance took place was placed directly in front of the busts of the two sisters, which seemed as they were observing the event.

Because of the context of the conference and space I decided to re-analyse the learned names. For this occasion, I added to the 126 name additional artists from the region of ex-Yugoslavia. I made these changes because of the context of the space, and event, it was presented in. In total the new memorized artists were 148. Beside this, the performance consisted of many of the same elements and technology that were used for the performance at Kapelica Gallery. However, some of the elements (like camera and projection) were removed and some things were alternated. In the case of the performance in Zagreb, no names of the male artist were mentioned, only the female artist were the subject there.

When searching for artist from this region an informative fact is also that the information about this artists were much harder to find. Artist from the ex-Yugoslavian space are even more likely to be forgotten by the art history and theory.

The performance Dear Ladies, Thank You was made in one other versions which was presented on my master defence presentation in the Academy of Fine Arts in Ljubljana. This version tried to address the problem of radicaly low number of women professors in this school. However this performance was not documented.


Ana Čigon