Feminist public art installation in DC at NMWA

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Feminist public art installation in DC at NMWA
Katharina Cibulka, SOLANGE #27 (installation view, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.), 2022; Mesh scaffolding net, tulle, and cable ties, 82 x 82 ft. (25 x 25 meters); © 2022 Katharina Cibulka; Photo by Kevin Allen.

WASHINGTON, DC.- The National Museum of Women in the Arts has commissioned Austrian artist Katharina Cibulka (b. 1975) to present the next iteration of Lookout, a public art project presented while the museum is temporarily closed for a major renovation. In her first installation in the United States, Cibulka covered NMWA’s north-facing façade with one of her monumental “SOLANGE” (German for “as long as”) works, a series that addresses gender-based inequity and social power structures. Featuring a message revealed on October 28, Cibulka’s work at NMWA reflects the museum’s mission and resonate with neighbors in Washington, D.C., as well as the museum’s broader network of members, supporters and friends.

In bright pink tulle on white mesh fabric that covers construction scaffolding, Cibulka cross-stitches poetic and witty declarations such as “As long as the art market is a boys’ club, I will be a feminist,” “As long as he makes the cash while I work for change, I will be a feminist,” and ”As long as women’s power is an underrated energy source, I will be a feminist.” For each of Cibulka’s site-specific “SOLANGE” works, the artist considers the local environment and community while developing the phrase for that location. NMWA solicited ideas from the public this past spring to help the artist understand the concerns of community members, neighbors and museum supporters. Previous statements have addressed topics such as income inequality, family structures, the abuse of power and the art world.

“Cibulka’s project re-purposes construction sites, spaces commonly identified with a narrow concept of masculinity, which makes her message of gender equity resonate powerfully,” said Kathryn Wat, NMWA’s chief curator. “We are thrilled to give her the space to share her process and reflect on the mission of NMWA and the values of our local community.”

“The ‘SOLANGE’ sentences point unmistakably at existing imbalances,” said Cibulka. Reflecting on her excitement to be presenting at NMWA, just two blocks away from the White House, she says, “where there's power, there's room for action. If the most powerful people on this earth would finally use their power to benefit all and not just to gain more power and profit for themselves and a few others, the world would be a fairer place today.”

Katharina Cibulka works as an artist, filmmaker and photographer and develops concepts for artistic processes. She is cofounder of the all-female band telenovela and the performance group peek a corner. Cibulka studied art and film at the Academy of Fine Art and School for Artistic Photography, both in Vienna, as well as the New York Film Academy. Her work has appeared in several exhibitions and film festivals at venues including the Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast; Glucksman Gallery, Cork; Künstlerhaus, Vienna; Kunstverein, Bonn; Lidgett Gallery, Budapest; Museum of Applied Art, Belgrade; Neue Galerie, Innsbruck; Shedhalle, Zürich; and St. Claude Gallery, New Orleans. Her work was also featured in the 2006 St. Petersburg Biennale, Marmara University’s 2010 International Student Triennial in Istanbul, inaugural Rabat Biennale for Contemporary Art in 2019, and Vierzon Biennale in 2022.

Cibulka employs moving images, photography, installations, public interactions and performance in her work. In deconstructing processes, her work sometimes assumes subversive or even temperamental and anarchist forms. Often, the dynamism of the work’s content stands in contrast to the minimalist clarity and elegance of its formal images and sounds.

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