New Femininity #3, ongoing at Melkweg until March 10, is an exhibition focused on answering the questions of what it means to be a woman and feel feminine in modern society. Its organizer, ‘Curated by GIRLS’, is a platform based in Berlin that gathers international artists focused on the same goal: gender equality. The group promotes equal treatment for all, no matter their size, shape, ethnicity or any other factor. They pose important questions, crushing stereotypes and destroying taboos, and aim to be the voice of women who lack one in the equality discussion. Curated by GIRLS is managed by Laetitia Duveau and Suzanne Wegh, both of whom are focused on assembling a group of aspiring artists and bringing change to society through the New Femininity #3 project.
Femininity is rapidly evolving. On the one hand, the gender equality movement is gaining momentum every single day: women are less afraid of being emancipated and are increasingly free from societal expectations. However, there are still very strong stereotypes surrounding the female gender. Even though the rules are changing, and women are finally being heard and seen, many still feel lost in the new era that we are currently entering. What the curators of the exposition wanted to achieve was to show the audience that femininity can be expressed in countless ways and that all women, no matter who they are or how they look, deserve to feel beautiful and appreciated.
The New Femininity #3 exhibition was created by 38 artists from all around the world, who collectively celebrate every aspect of being a woman. The majority of the works already existed prior to the exhibition, though there were some artists that created pieces especially for the project.
When asked about the motivation and idea behind New Femininity #3, Laetitia admitted that she has always been fascinated by exploring femininity and what it means to be a woman. The movement had a personal motive, as in her teenage years Laetitia felt like she did not meet the requirements that society imposes on women. What she tried to accomplish with the exhibition was to prove that femininity can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and that there are no rules to how a person should be.
In relation to the fight of gender equality, Laetitia thinks that we should start educating the next generation that there is no single way of being, contrary to what the popular beauty canons claim. People around the world need to understand that competing and disregarding one another is not the way to create a strong, respectful environment in which the public agrees that equality is for everyone.
Curated by GIRLS gives artists that have something to say in the discussion of gender equality a space to express their thoughts and share what they believe in. Laetitia mentions that many other platforms are currently springing up with the same goals, forming part of a broader trend.
Naturally, the exhibition faced a degree of criticism, with some deeming it controversial or inappropriate. Nevertheless, even unfavorable reactions drive the discussion. As Laetitia herself said, it is better to have negative reactions than to have no reaction at all.
The Curated by GIRLS team will be visiting the New Femininity #3 exhibition on the evening of Friday, March 8. This visit includes answering questions about femininity, explaining how we can sustain an image of a powerful woman and taking the audience through the history of Woman House, a feminist art performance curated by Judy Chicago in 1972. The New Femininity Talks will take place from 7 pm to 9 pm on Friday, March 8 in Melkweg; tickets are €7.50. At other times, entry into the exhibition is free.