Beuys & Girls

Marleen Rothaus, Coven, Öl auf Leinwand, 130 x 280 cm, 2020

June 5 – July 10, 2021. With Magdalena Kita, Johanna Reich and Marleen Rothaus

Walking around Cologne these days, you cannot escape the numerous posters advertising for exhibitions centering around Joseph Beuys’s 100th anniversary. His problematic anthroposophical world views aside, why do German museums still cling to the celebration of the “white male genius”? Recent “blockbuster” exhibitions in Germany featuring those romanticized male artists include Munch, Haring, Warhol, and Van Gogh. How many times do we need to see Warhol’s silk-screen canvases of soup cans? Van Gogh’s sunflowers? Why do we keep glorifying the same artists?

Meanwhile, women artists and artists of color are condemned to be sidenotes in art history books and are thrown together in group exhibitions with other male artists, if at all. The upcoming exhibit “Beuys & Girls”, curated by Curated Affairs, presents the work of three women artists on the 100th anniversary of the admission of women to the Kunstakademie. In their works, they ask: Where are all the women artists? How can feminist art intervene in politics? How can we diversify the canon and the museum space? In the exhibit, taking place in Düsseldorf from June 5 to July 10, Magdalena Kita, Johanna Reich und Marleen Rothaus exhibit their latest works and tackle questions of inequality and lack of representation of women artists.

The artists work in different media, ranging from painting to video, sound installation, and photography. Artist Johanna Reich presents a counter-archive of forgotten women artists of the 19th and 20th centuries. Her works highlight the gender bias in historiography as well as in present-day algorithms and fill in the blanks by telling the stories of women artists via sound, photography, and film.

Johanna Reich, RESURFACE, Sofie Ribbing, Courtesy Galerie Priska Pasquer, © Johanna Reich, VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2021

In Marleen Rothaus’s paintings, Pop Art meets feminist activism. Not only do her paintings carry political messages in themselves, but she also uses her art in protests and pastes them all over the city. Her work is reminiscent of the activist anti-war posters of artist Corita Kent, using her art for social change. Her protests at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf show that even in 2021, the patriarchal structures in art schools remain intact.

Marleen Rothaus, Solange bleib ich Feministin, Video Dokumentation einer Protestaktion, 04.16 min, 2020

Magdalena Kita connects art and wearable textiles such as football scarves and towels, mixing aesthetics with functionality and politics. She reclaims symbols of masculinity, such as the football scarf, and updates them with a different, feminist message: using stereotypically “female” colors such as pink and lilac as well as female characters, she reinterprets traditional ideas of masculinity and femininity.

Magdalena Kita, Californication, Performance mit bemalten Handtüchern, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, US, 2015

The exhibition takes place at: NAILS projectroom, Birkenstrasse 61, 40233 Düsseldorf. For further information: +