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Resist: be modern (again)

25 May 2019 - 17 August 2019

Curated by Alice Maude-Roxby and Stefanie Seibold, 'Resist: be modern (again)' explores the practices of women artists, designers and writers of the 1920s and 30s through the work of contemporary artists.
These early pioneering women were important groundbreakers for their time, many of their ideas are reverberating until today. Their battles against social conventions and aesthetic dogmas paved the way for today’s understanding of an expanded field of art, as well as for contemporary personal freedoms.
Exhibiting artists: Becky Beasley, Madeleine Bernstorff, Tessa Boffin, Ricarda Denzer, Andrea Geyer, Moira Hille, Alice Maude-Roxby, Nick Mauss, Ursula Mayer, Falke Pisano, Ingrid Pollard, Tanoa Sasraku-Ansah, Katie Schwab, Stefanie Seibold, Megan Francis Sullivan, S. Louisa Wei, Riet Wijnen, Gillian Wylde, and a contribution by curator Beatriz Herráez.
'Resist: be modern (again)' looks back at these revolutionary art, design, performative and written practices. Using the lens of contemporary art, theory and design, the exhibition highlights the importance and influence of these long-lost early avant-garde practices into the present. 'Resist: be modern (again)' showcases collaborations between women who, due to either gender, sexuality or ethnicity, have been censored out, devalued or marginalised over time. This exhibition brings their practice and contribution out of the archives and into the foreground. Contemporary artists reactivate and represent these early practices through mapping, transcribing, sampling, referencing, reciting, re-telling or re-making, reclaiming their lasting value and importance for today’s art world and beyond.
The artists, designers, writers, editors, film-makers and performers referenced within 'Resist: be modern (again)' include: writer Virginia Woolf, textile designers Barron and Larcher, Enid Marx, photographer Berenice Abbott and writer and art critic Elizabeth McCausland, legendary club proprietor and jazz singer Ada ‘Bricktop’ Smith, Native American potter Maria Martinez, film-maker Esther Eng, artist, performer and poet Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Lohringhoven, and editors of the 1920s American literary journal ‘The Little Review’, Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap. All of whom were responsible for highly innovative art, design and publishing, much of which has been largely erased from the art historical canon.
The exhibition spans continents, exploring the link between a ‘lost generation’ of collaborative women in Paris with the Harlem Renaissance in the USA to concepts of queerness in the Bloomsbury Set in the UK. The show reveals the multiple links between different practitioners of the time, highlighting the importance of those interconnections and how they created such an immensely rich web of relationships and influences. 'Resist: be modern (again)' centres around a series of new commissions and existing works by a selection of international contemporary artists. These works draw upon both specific historic individuals and the wider cultural and historical context surrounding the development of Modernism during the early 20th Century, focussing on its overlooked and marginalised women protagonists. Using a range of media, including photography, film, installation, drawing, textile and sculpture, the contemporary works in 'Resist: be modern (again)' reintroduce specific individual practitioners as well as highlighting the ongoing importance and significance of their pioneering works. 'Resist: be modern (again)' reexamines these important legacies and shows us how we can learn from an overlooked past outside of a mainstream standard in order to navigate our own complex present.
'Resist: be modern (again)' is a John Hansard Gallery exhibition, with support from Arts Council England, Middlesex University, Mondriaan Fund, Federal Chancellory of Austria BKA.
Performance & Talks Afternoon
Saturday 27 July, 2-6pm
This event will focus on some of the themes of the exhibition and will include an afternoon of performance, artist talk, screening and an in conversation event including artists Riet Wijnen, Gillian Wylde, Alice Maude-Roxby and Stefanie Seibold, followed by a drinks reception. 
FREE, click here to book your place.

Press Release
Downloadable (PDF) here

Berenice Abbott
Berenice Abbott, ‘Gunsmith', 1937. © Berenice Abbott / Museum of the City of New York

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