Martha Kirszenbaum was the long-time director and curator of Fahrenheit, an exhibition space and residency program in Los Angeles. She graduated from Sciences Po in Paris and Columbia University in New York, and worked at Media Department of MoMA in New York (2006-07), Photography Department of Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris (2007) and at the New Museum in New York (2008-10). Additionally, she collaborated with the Center for Contemporary Art in Warsaw, the Belvedere Museum/21er Haus in Vienna, the Marrakech Biennale, Palais de Tokyo in Paris and the Kunsthalle Mulhouse. Kirszenbaum is a regular contributor to Flash Art, CURA, Kaleidoscope and Mousse among other publications, and has led seminars on curatorial practice at the Université Paris VIII and Parsons, Paris.
Inspired by Sylvia Plath’s 1956 poem “Two Sisters of Persephone”, an allegory which discusses the life of a woman in the contemporary era through the myths of Persephone, Martha Kirszenbaum’s lecture will discuss and elaborate on her recent curatorial practice in regards the omnipresence of the feminine body in the public realm and the mystified notion of interior and intimate space, all distilled with distance, humor and a recurring sense of poetry.
Martha Kirszenbaum’s talk will concentrate on three projects she has initiated this year.
Firstly she will present a group exhibition she has organized, Seven Sisters, featuring the work of six international female artists at Kasia Michalski in Warsaw. It was inspired by the Polish Black Monday, a demonstration of dozens of thousands of Polish Women that took place a year ago to protest a ferocious law criminalizing abortion and, ultimately, to defend their essential right to have control over their bodies.
She will then focus on I Heard You Laughing, a series of screenings developed together with Myriam Ben Salah and reflecting on the importance of popular culture, the omnipresence of technologies and the role of music and dance in the Middle East. It consists of selected music videos from iconic Middle-Eastern musicians of the 1950s-60s-70s alongside video works by contemporary artists from the region, among which many female artists.
Finally, she will present the recent movement “Not Surprised”, an initiative that started as a WhatsApp group of over 130 women from the art world who wrote a collective letter denouncing sexual harassment and abuse of power in the field, signed by over 20,000 people in a few days. Kirszenbaum will discuss the premises of this independent and spontaneous movement, and its actions today.
The series is supported by: Estonian Cultural Endowment, Baltic-American Freedom Foundation, Estonian Academy of Science.
Recorded by Tõnis Jürgens at the Academy of Sciences.