International Women’s Day: 5 to See

Held annually on 8 March, International Women’s Day is a global event celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality. With this in mind, we’ve collated five exhibitions which reflect on the lives of women and girls worldwide. From films and photography to AR and new technologies, these shows attempt to redress the balance – challenging existing art historical tropes whilst moving discourse forwards.

Sutapa Biswas: Lumen | BALTIC, Gateshead

Sutapa Biswas (b. 1962) has shifted our understanding of post-war British art, encouraging us, as visual theorist Griselda Pollock notes: “to acknowledge the Eurocentric limits of the discourses within which we practise.” Since the early 1980s, Biswas has consistently explored gender, identity and desire, creating vital works as part of the Black Arts Movement in Britain. BALTIC’s show, Lumen, features drawing, photography and moving image – including a new film that maps a semi-fictional narrative of migration, as well as works exploring motherhood and colonial histories. Until 20 March.

Carolyn Drake: Knit Club | Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York

Carolyn Drake’s (b. 1971) Knit Club is the result of a several-years-long collaboration with a group of women living in Water Valley, Mississippi. The resulting images aim to offer “a different perspective on southern femininity and motherhood… allowing the women to reclaim the ability to craft their own stories.” Influenced by writer William Faulkner, Drake’s images are enigmatic and Gothic in style. From cinematic portraits to more conceptual compositions, Knit Club is richly layered with symbolism. Snakes coil around tree trunks, whilst model houses sit amongst sun-bleached grasslands. 5 March – 9 April.

Nude | Fotografiska, New York

This show highlights 30 female-identifying artists from around the world. Through “beautiful, disruptive and experimental lenses,” photographers subvert the male gaze: a perspective predominant throughout cultural history. Nude addresses the centuries-long fascination with the naked body in art – navigating the balance between “the nude” as an idealised form versus honest, natural and personal expressions. Pictured here is Yushi Li and Steph Wilson’s Feast Inside, which reflects on the staging of eroticism in Western art. Also featured are Dana Scruggs, Evelyn Bencicova and Brooke DiDonato. Until 1 May.

Astro 2030 : Present Future | Jolt Studios, Gloucester

Aesthetica Art Prize finalist Mónica Alcázar-Duarte (b. 1977) is perhaps best known for Second Nature, a series probing algorithms, search engines and the impact of digital bias on Mexican women. Now, using augmented reality, lightboxes and video presentations, she poses questions about the future of space exploration. What do these endeavours mean for humans on earth? What are the potential implications of colonising of a new planet? How can we proceed peacefully, whilst preserving our own planet? Astro 2030: Present Future combines science, technology and art whilst allowing audiences to interact. Until 31 March.

Poulomi Basu: Fireflies | Autograph, London

Indian artist and activist Poulomi Basu (b. 1983) is recognised for amplifying women’s voices – advocating for the rights of marginalised communities using the power of photography. In her deeply emotive new show, Fireflies, Basu foregrounds the relationship between mother and daughter. The body of work reflects on experiences of trauma – particularly patriarchal violence – navigating “the claustrophobia of home, dreams of freedom, defiance and transcendence.” Speaking on the series, she says: “I owe it to the women who have opened themselves up to me. I want them to know that we are fighting this oppression together. We are doing this with collective agency. Our voice of resistance.” 4 March – 4 June.

Image Credits:
1. © Mónica Alcázar-Duarte, from the series Second Nature, 2017-2020.
2. Lumen (film still; 2021), Sutapa Biswas. Photo: Carlotta Cardana; © Sutapa Biswas. All rights reserved, DACS 2021
3. Katherine, 2019. Archival pigment print, 37 1/2 x 50 inches. From the series Knit Club.
4. Yushi Li and Steph Wilson, Feast Inside (2020).
5. © Mónica Alcázar-Duarte, from the series Second Nature, 2017-2020.
6. Poulomi Basu, from Fireflies, 2019 – ongoing