“An exhibition at Düsseldorf’s prestigious NRW Forum has become a lightning rod in the German art world and set off a tense debate over representation due to its sparse inclusion of women artists.
The row began on social media and gained steam after the Berlin-based, South African artist Candice Breitz and the Vienna-based curator Verena Kaspar-Eisert initiated an open letter on September 21. Since then, it has garnered around 1,000 signatures, including those of at least two artists whose work is in the show, Trevor Paglen and Suzanne Treister. Among the other critics, curators, and artists who have signed are Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Sabine Breitwieser, and Judith Hopf.
The letter sharply criticizes the exhibition, organized by curators Florian Waldvogel and Alain Bieber, for including work by 12 male artists, three collectives (one of which is all male), and two women. Originally, there was only one female artist on the list, but British artist Suzanne Treister was added after an initial outcry on social media about the gender disparity.
“How is it possible—in the year 2018—that publicly-financed institutions continue to present exhibitions that are thoroughly unrepresentative of the diverse audiences that they serve?” the letter reads. “How is it possible that an ‘international’ exhibition, one that sets out to address a global phenomenon, is composed almost exclusively of works by white men?” ”
The full text is available on the direct link.