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Unique project turns the spotlight on statements of women from Central and Eastern Europe
Elżbieta Jabłońska.

WARSAW.- Over 250 woman artists and one platform that turns the spotlight on statements of women from Central and Eastern Europe. is a unique, international project, representing three generations of artists from Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. Its aim is to help promote, discover, and rediscover women artists and the most valuable phenomena of contemporary art of our region from the female perspective. The project was created by the Katarzyna Kozyra Foundation together with international partners.

Women artists, marginalized and neglected for years, regain their rightful place in the artistic world of Central and Eastern Europe. The name is a slight provocation and a play on words, referring to the secondary role that was historically assigned to these countries, often treated as the periphery of the so-called first world. Female artists working in the times of the communist regime had a particularly difficult time due to the barriers it introduced to the cultural and social emancipation of women. It was more difficult for them to express themselves through creativity and earn their reputation beyond the borders of Central and Eastern Europe.

On the other hand, the name “Secondary Archive” refers to the stereotype of women as representatives of the “other sex”, subordinate to men. In the project, the artists speak with their own voice - both when creating Artist Statements and presenting their works. Their voice in today’s world, accentuated with the fight for women’s rights, is exceptionally topical and important. This was especially demonstrated by the recent events in Poland and protests against the tightening of the abortion law that have been going on since last year, widely commented around the world. The new generation of female artists is thus confronted with topics related to sexuality, patriarchy and the freedom to decide about your own body. is a virtual platform consisting of over 600 pages of artistic statements, created in collaboration with 30 curators from 4 countries. The project covers the creative endeavors of three generations of female artists, starting in the 1960s. It was then, that the first generation of artists had to function in the most difficult period of communist regimes. The second generation of artists emerged in the 1980s and 1990s and experienced the effects of the collapse of the Soviet Union at the beginning of their careers. Finally, the third generation, reaching the age of maturity during the political changes that have shaped the face of today’s Europe.

The project concerns girls, women, our sisters, female art practiced amidst generations, and from various standpoints. We are still operating in a world built by men in their masculine logic of undeserved primacy of the “first sex”, hence this concept of the second category which appears in our context. We give voice to artists, known and unknown, feminists and traditionalists, painters, installation artists and sculptors, directors, performers or artivists. We are creating a platform for words here – bringing together their Artist Statements. We want to connect the artists with each other so that they can express themselves, get to know each other better and feel how a strong community based on diversity can be created - says Katarzyna Kozyra, artist and initiator of the project.

Polish artists featured in “Secondary Archive” include amongst many others: Alina Szapocznikow, Natalia LL, Małgorzata Mirga-Tas, Zofia Krawiec and Agata Kus. Artists from Slovakia include Jana Želibská, Denisa Lehocká, Mária Bartuszová, Jana Kapelová and Zuzana Svatik. From Czech Republic: Adéla Součková, Alena Kotzmannová, Marketa Garai, Veronika Bromova and from Hungary: Orshi Drozdik, Katalin Ladik, Marianne Csáky, Sári Ember and Andrea Éva Győri. In addition, the platform will provide access to previously unpublished research by curators working on the practices of female artists in the region.

The project was created by the Katarzyna Kozyra Foundation together with its partners - Easttopics (Hungary), Björnsonova (Slovakia) and MeetFactory (Czech Republic) and in cooperation with Zachęta - National Gallery of Art in Warsaw. The project is co-financed by the Governments of Czechia, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia through Visegrad Grants from International Visegrad Fund. In the future, it will be expanded to include more profiles of female artists from V4 countries and other regions of Europe.

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