Art Exhibition—”SUSURRO: Poetisk kvinnelighet”

The group exhibition “SUSURRO: Poetisk kvinnelighet” [Whisper: Poetics of Femininity] will be on view at Rogalan Kunstsenter (located at Nytorget 17, Stavanger, Norway) from September 10 until October 9, 2022. Curated by Juan Carlos Ditrén Flores & María Elena Ditrén Flores, the exhibition features Dominican artists Belkis Ramírez, Citlally Miranda, Inés Tolentino, Raquel Paiewonsky, and Scherezade García.

Description (by curators Juan Carlos Ditrén Flores & María Elena Ditrén Flores): The struggle for women’s rights and their quest for gender equality has been going on for more than two centuries. Global achievements have been obtained, however, the vindication of their fundamental rights and the elimination of inequality in the social, political and cultural spheres still continues. Unfortunately, domestic violence, inequality in employment and, in general, the limitations to their active and equal participation in the different spheres of society, as well as the scarce recognition of their contributions, continue to be “our daily bread”. In many countries, compulsory marriage, limited access to education and the non-inclusion of women in society are still in force, despite the fact that they represent half of the world’s population.

These restrictions are evident at international level, preventing their full participation in the different spaces of integration, including the artistic sphere, which means that even today there are few specialized studies that address the presence and contribution of women to the development of Art throughout history. Latin America and the Caribbean are no exception. In fact, many are the voices that have been raised, using different discourses, addressing the issue of gender equality as a social, political and philosophical movement. In this context, since the 1980s, a generalized concern for human problems has arisen in Latin America, which translates into an ethical sense of art that imbue and drives artistic creation.

In the case of the Dominican Republic, this vindictive struggle has encouraged women from different creative sectors to raise their voices in favor of this cause. A conceptual cry that rises, like a small WHISPER, from this Caribbean half-island. A commitment that motivates them to raise proposals promoting equity, inclusion and equality, from the elementary question of the role of art in these issues; to assume a committed stance against this local and global reality, presented to us as an urgency, turning into a social need for response.

Under these circumstances, we can understand the work of many Dominican artists who address issues related to the feminine universe, such as couple relationships, identity and gender violence, migratory processes -related to poverty and prostitution-, as well as other aspects alluding the human condition in general. In this project, all these themes are dealt with in a special way, which brings together the work of Belkis Ramírez, Citlally Miranda, Inés Tolentino, Raquel Paiewonsky and Scherezade García, presenting the vision of five contemporary Dominican artists, approaching through their works the theme of women -from different perspectives and realities – and establishing a diachronic dialogue. These works include installation, photography, video, painting, woodcut, and drawing.

Creations sometimes turned into denunciations, with the intention of creating awareness and searching for solutions to the violation of women and girls’ rights around the world. An urging problem that has caused that contemporary society faces an important social scourge, in a macro sense, translated into violence in its different variants and that today makes the Dominican Republic face staggering numbers of domestic violence. A drama that affects 1 out of every 3 Dominican women, according to a study carried out by the World Health Organization, registering 152 femicides in 2021, only 18 less than in 2020. This totals 3,049 women in the last 17 years, according to the Attorney General’s Office. Meanwhile, in the country, child marriage was not criminalized until 2021 and female emigration, higher than male emigration, continues to be a problem related to inequalities and prostitution.

Problems speaking of an unpaid social debt, masterfully addressed by these five women, in a multigenerational dialogue, who become great voices from the Caribbean, which whisper realities and stories from their own microcosm and from others’, intentionally exhibited to contribute to the global discourse and, in some way, to constitute an offering and homage to the violated woman…

Concepts, trajectories and productions are analyzed by five prestigious Dominican intellectuals whose texts critically dialogue, in a crossing of views, with each of the works that form the curatorial corpus; bringing them conceptually closer to the viewer. Our sincere gratitude goes to them, as well as to the institutions and companies that have sponsored this exhibition, allowing its international projection. To Banco BHD, Excel Group, Corripio Editorial and the Ministry of Women, for their valuable contribution to this collective effort to project Dominican art beyond its borders and strengthen fraternal and friendly ties with a country which it has had commercial relations with for decades however, with little cultural exchange promoting actions that establish a dialogue between both nations from the point of view of art and culture.

In this sense, it seems appropriate and pertinent that Norway, through the Stavanger region, has the opportunity to get to know the quality and artistic effervescence of the Dominican Republic, which distinguishes and positions itself as one of the most important artistic spaces in the Caribbean. Therefore, this exhibition in Norway, and the subsequent exhibition of contemporary Norwegian art in the Dominican Republic, is made possible thanks to Rogaland Kunstsenter and Stavanger municipality, without whose generous participation this important cultural exchange would not be possible. In this sense, we thank its director, Jane Sverdrupsen, for her approval and enthusiastic collaboration.

Thus, “Whisper: Poetics of Femininity” brings together the work and efforts of artists, institutions and people who, individually and collectively, believe in the communicative capacity of art, as a way of unveiling the world, as well as offering possibilities of provocation and inducing action, despite the evident pessimism that the current panorama awakens regarding the diverse problems affecting women. All of this turned into an exhibition set, the leitmotiv of stories and meta-stories that whisper, in front of this global and local reality, and join so many other voices that, in a game of intellectual seduction, are presented as a wink inviting women and men around the world to somehow, why not, rewrite this story.

For more information, see https://rogalandkunstsenter.no/?p=5380

[Shown above: detail of “Inmaculada” by Raquel Paiewonsky.]

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