Margaret Harrison's work focuses on denouncing gender and class inequality through a humorous and unorthodox artistic practice. Through paintings, drawings, textiles and large installations, the artist explores the conditions of domestic labour, rape and domestic sexual abuse, the impact of war on women, fame and celebrity status, and beauty as represented by the cosmetics industry.
Her second solo exhibition at ADN Galeria, "Dreams and Nightmares", presents the diversity of this artist's production, focusing on the harmfull effects of patriarchy on women up to its most serious consequence, femicide. The exhibition invites us to discover the evolution of this pioneering figure of British feminist art through installations, paintings, drawings and texts from the 1980s to the present day.
Margaret Harrison appeared on the cultural scene of the second wave of British feminism, which emerged as the heir to the birth of trade unionism, the creation of labour rights and the suffragettes. In...this period, marked artistically by the triumph of pop, minimalism and conceptual art, she sought an aesthetic of her own that would respond to her political activism. She began a series of drawings with hypersexualised characters in which she made explicit the asymmetry in the representation of men and women, but in the London of the early 1970s her production was so far ahead of its time that it could only be seen as irreverent. So much so that her first solo exhibition was closed down after being declared indecent by the police the day after it opened.
Harrison deliberately subverts traditional gender norms with grotesque characters in images charged with humour, irony and pastiche. This process of subversion would become one of the artist's most effective political-artistic weapons until the forced closure of her first exhibition led her to explore new creative avenues. This is how she began a series of long-term projects, combining painting and archiving, to investigate the working conditions of the working class in rural areas. One of the first sociological investigations she undertook was a study of women's work in a metal box factory, together with the artists Kay Hunt and Mary Kelly, which resulted in Women and Work: A Document on the Division of Labour in Industry 1973-1975.
Shortly afterwards she worked on Homeworkers (1977), a work collected by the TATE Collection. Homeworkers is a multidisciplinary project that documents the exploitation of women at a time when many companies and institutions used subcontracting to create precarious jobs that could be developed in the domestic sphere. To this end, the artist interviewed and photographed women working in factories or in their homes, seeking to understand the difficulties they faced. This exhibition includes a part of this project: the piece called Homeworkers: Mrs. McGilvrey and the Hands of Law and Experience (1978-1980), in which we appraise the story of this woman who prepared tax forms at home, a work subcontracted by the British central government and poorly paid.
This research would lead to the immediately subsequent work entitled The Prostitution Piece which, in 1980, Lucy Lippard exhibited at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London as part of the exhibition Issue: Social Strategies by Women Artists. This group exhibition was iconic because it highlighted feminist art practice informed by social concerns. The large installation The prostitution piece denounced the loss of craftsmanship caused by the rise of the factory, and the ensuing crisis that forced many women into prostitution when factories closed and they were left without resources.
Entrada actualizada el el 20 nov de 2023
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