BERLIN — Earlier this week, stickers and posters started circulating in and around the city of Berlin that point to a disparaging fact: according to a group of arts activists, 75% of the artists being platformed at Berlin Gallery Weekend are white and male.
Both before and after Linda Nochlin’s celebrated 1971 essay “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?”, critics all over the world have been examining the structural conditions of how galleries and museums contain entrenched gender disparities.
In the mid-1980s, for example, the Guerrilla Girls protested a Museum of Modern Art survey that contained just 13 women in a show of 169 artists. Ever since, groups have been examining how the art industry manifests in gender-skewed ways.
Today, contemporary works by women, queer, and non-binary artists remain marginalized despite numerous calls to action. After centuries of cis male-dominated art history, canon correcting projects and calls to action like the one being circulated this weekend serve an important reminder that the art world can and should do better.
Earlier this week, an anonymous group of curators, museum workers, and cultural activists developed the campaign under the name “Soup du Jour,” using the occasion of Berlin’s Gallery Weekend to draw attention to gender and racial disparities in contemporary institutions that serve as the de-facto gatekeepers of art. Of the 45 galleries participating in the official Gallery Weekend program, 38 galleries contain shows by men.
Berlin Gallery Weekend was initially founded in 2005 as a means of bringing international visibility to artists and gallerists in the city. For its part, official organizers of Berlin Gallery Weekend tell Hyperallergic that the program does not control or monitor individual programming or events within participating galleries. Rather, it serves as a kind of umbrella organization designed to organize and synthesize existing galleries and programs by giving them a single platform in which to appeal to international art professionals and collectors coming to the city for the weekend.
The stickers protesting the lack of diversity within the Berlin art scene feature a white sausage — known in German as Weisswurst — against the blue background of Berlin Gallery Weekend’s main logo and branding typography. Soup du Jour is planning an intervention for the gallery weekend but has not provided further details.
Berlin Gallery Weekend takes place throughout the city until April 28.