Women Commentators - idea

The “Women Commentators” project, initiated in 2012, is dedicated to the works of contemporary female artists of the young generation, who tackle political, social, and artistic issues in their art. They tell about weighty matters of war, terrorism, financial crisis, historical disputes, and natural disasters. The pieces presented are far from dispassionate documents that strive for objectivism. In promoting this kind of activity Komentatorki / Women Commentartors tries to negate cultural clichés, by which men create art revolving around topics considered important in the realm of history and politics, whereas women specifically take on the problems of sexuality, gender, and emotions. The aim of the project is not only to show the world viewed by women as “the other point of view”, but to treat their commentary as equal to official narrative. We want to break the stereotypical divide of private, “feminine” realm and public, “masculine” realm, which contributes to the ignoring or marginalizing women’s voice. In the same manner, the project differs from the simplified image of feministic exhibitions in which women are portrayed as heroines fighting with the patriarchy or its victims. 

The “Women Commentators” project had two incarnations so far: an exhibition displayed in 2013 in the Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, and a festival which took place in 2014 in the Xawery Dunikowski Museum of Sculpture in Królikarnia, the branch of the National Museum in Warsaw.

Such artists as: Rossella Biscotti, Melania Bonajo, Gabriela Golder, Nicoline van Harskamp, Ana Hušman, Nadia Kaabi-Linke, Jane Jin Kaisen, Tamara Moyzes, Marinea Naprushkina were invited to work with us on the exhibition. The event involved a series of interactive meetings, among which were: Ewa Charkiewicz’s workshops and discussions with Katarzyna Kozyra (one of them held with high school students). The exhibition was accompanied by a late-night screening of Women Commentators Planete+ Doc Film Festival (now: Docs Against Gravity Film Festival) prepared in collaboration with Against Gravity and Kino.Lab.

The festival, which took place the following year, engaged artists from Russia and Ukraine. Through this event, we wanted to shed light on the situation in Ukraine and promote discussion about this difficult issue. Katia Krupennikova was a curator of the festival. The ongoing war has impact on both nations. Some of the participants had been to the conflict zone, others have relatives who live there. The event showed, often very personal, war experiences, and at the same time had been a chance to rethink our own understanding of what happens in Ukraine and Russia. During the festival we have repeatedly emphasised the necessity to establish a dialogue, negotiate meanings and question the stereotypical image of Eastern Europe. That is why a set of conferences and debates on current political events had been an important part of "Women Commentators". 

 Among the festival’s panel discussions it’s worth to mention: "Pros and cons of rape. Post-colonial syndrome. Colonialism in contemporary understanding, its potential within the frame of interpretation in politics, geography, and culture” (with Agnieszka Morawińska and Małgorzata Jacyno. Moderated by Tomasz Stryjek), “David and Goliath. The art of fighting with a giant. Subversive strategies, their influence and effects” (with Katarzyna Kozyra, Agata Czarnacka, and Jan Śpiewak. Moderated by Anna Łazar), “They live! Looking for reality through contemporary media” (Aleksandra Karasińska, Michał Przymusiński, and Marek Troszyński. Moderated by Agnieszka Wołk-Łaniewska). Apart from film screenings and panel discussions, the festival hosted, among others: Alevtina Kakhidze’s performance Ukrainian Reality Adaptation Course, Avtomat collective’s concert, Mariia Gonchar’s workshop "How to pack and deliver the food from outside to a detention facility", and lectures by Liza Babenko, Lesia Khomenko, Olga Jitlina, Lusine Djanyan, and Alevtina Kakhidze.

During the course of “Women Commentators” we established cooperation with, i.a: the Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, National Museum in Warsaw, the Feminoteka Foundation, TVP Kultura, Radio TOK,, Against Gravity and Planete+ Doc Film Festival (now: Docs Against Gravity Film Festival), Tomek Byra Foundation “Ecology and Art”, the Czech Centre, Pepe Hostel, Lodove, Skamiejka Restaurant, and a German patron of arts, FILIGRAN TRAEGERSYSTEME GmbH Co. KG.

“Women Commentators’” interactive profile has been stimulated by a blog, which  not only enables to follow the project, but also encourages discussion and commenting on current events accompanying the project. We give our best effort to promote active participation of the audience in the process of interpretation. 

Utilizing our experience, established international cooperation with artists and institutions, as well as theoretical base, we mean to write new chapters of the “Women Commetators” cycle. We want to fight with the notion that commentary, one of the oldest form of expression, is solely a man’s domain. Therefore, the project constitutes as important field of reflection upon existence of gender in the media and social studies, where women’s voice is often unheard or deals with matters considered as side issues which lack the audience.