• Everything we see could also be otherwise (My sweet little lamb)
    20 September – 11 November 2017

    The Showroom (63 Penfold St, Marylebone, London NW8 8PQ, UK) Curated by: What, How & for Whom/WHW, in collaboration with Kathrin Rhomberg, co-curated by Emily Pethick Preview: Tuesday 19 September, 6.30–8.30pm Exhibition opening hours: Wednesday – Saturday, 12–6pm The Showroom presents the epilogue of a long-term project which took place over several months in Zagreb (November 2016 to May 2017), which contextualised and rethought the Kontakt Art Collection. It was curated by What, How & for Whom/WHW in collaboration with Kathrin Rhomberg. This final exhibition is co-curated by The Showroom Director Emily Pethick. Taking selected works from the Vienna-based Kontakt Art Collection as its point of departure, including seminal pieces by some of the most prominent artists from Central, Eastern and South-East Europe since the 1960s, the exhibition stages an interplay between these and other historical, contemporary and newly produced works that interpret and critically examine the collection. The project unfolded in six episodes in Zagreb, each iteration influencing, contradicting and reinforcing each other. It took place in a number of smaller art spaces, artists' studios, private apartments and other locations related to artistic production and the broader cultural landscape of the city. This final stage of the project at The Showroom continues to reframe and expand the context of the collection. Interlacing geographically and poetically heterogeneous artist practices, the project attempts to punctuate standardized presentations and interpretations of works that have dominated international art circuits over the last few decades, with more disorderly and experimental arrangements. The project title is taken from a work by Croatian artist Mladen Stilinović (1947–2016), to whom the project is dedicated. Stilinović's life-long anti-systemic approach, his quiet but shrewd rebellion against social conventions and the conventions of art, and an artistic practice that trenchantly and humorously engages with complex themes of ideology, work, money, pain and poverty, inspired a generation of artists worldwide. The project is a cooperation with Kontakt Art Collection and is supported by Erste Group Bank AG and ERSTE Foundation.


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Ewa Partum

The work of Ewa Partum contributes to the pioneering artistic analyses on the position of women evolving in Poland at a time when feminist theories were still unheard of. While the United States saw the second wave of feminism as early as Betty Friedan’s publication of “The Feminist Mystique” in 1963, Partum’s earliest work, in which she traces the contours of her body on a white canvas in the open landscape around Sopot on the Baltic Sea, dates back only to 1965. This work, entitled “Presence”, marks the representation of woman in public space—which the artist has since continued demonstrating over the years in various performances, be it with her own naked body or in combination with signs and letters to signify the non-explicit. The latter is put forth in the reverse action “Absence”, where one sees only the contours of the body’s shadows plus a pair of black rubber boots. This diptych from 1965 marks woman’s split position within society, which Scottish psychiatrist R.D. Laing analyzed in his 1960 publication “The Divided Self”, a seminal book on the conditions of mental deviation as a sign of social pressure which also influenced the work of VALIE EXPORT. 

The impossibility of an adequate representation of the subject in public is manifested in the 1971 performance “Legality of Space”, where Partum placed traffic signs and various textual plates on a square at the center of Łódź. Here the artist demonstrates the restrictions placed upon the individual in public while also rendering hyperbolic the absurdities implied by mechanisms of political control, with one of the signs translating as “Forbidding forbidden.” The transgression of forbidden territory which lies at the center of Partum’s art represents a general feature of feminist practices since the 1960s, forcing the dissolution of the inequalities between private and public life. One of the artist’s important performances in this context is entitled “Change – My Problem is the Problem of a Woman” (1979), where Partum uses her whole body, onto which make-up artists apply make-up to make one part of the artist’s body look old, while the artist engages with the audience. In the background one can hear the recordings of texts by Lucy Lippard, VALIE EXPORT and the artist herself; these mark the interrelations of feminism at that time despite often-difficult channels of communication.



Born in Grodzisk Mazowiecki, Poland, 1945.

Partum studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Lodz (Poland) from 1963 to 1965, and at the Department of Painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw (Poland) from 1965 to 1970. She belongs to the first generation of the conceptual avant-garde in Poland in the 1960s and 1970s and is a pioneer of feminist art.

Lives and works in Berlin, Germany.

Solo Exhibitions (selected):

2009     “Ewa Partum - Politics is Temporary Art Remains”, Foto-Medium-Art Gallery, Krakow, Poland

2006     “Ewa Partum: The Legality of Space”, Wyspa Institute of Art, Danzig, Poland

2002     “Ewa Partum - poem by ewa”, Foth Gallery, Freiburg, Germany

Group Exhibitions (selected):

2012     “formes brèves, autres, 25 - 49 NORD 6 EST”, Frac Lorraine, Metz, France

2011     “Three Women”, Zachęta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, Poland

2010     “Les Promesses du passé”, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France

2009     “Gender Check - Rollenbilder in der Kunst Osteuropas“, MUMOK Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna, Austria

2008     “WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution”, Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, Canada

2007     “For a Special Place: Documents and Works from the Generali Foundation Collection”, Austrian Cultural Forum New York, New York, USA

2006     “Word Sculpture”, Tate Modern, London, UK

2004     “double bind - kunst - kinder – karriere“, Paula Modersohn-Becker Museum, Bremen, Germany

2003     “multiple joy”, Foth Gallery, Freiburg, Germany

2002     “Semiotic Landscape”, Charim Gallery, Vienna, Austria

This bibliography provides a list of books available in the
ERSTE Foundation Library

Books/Exhibition Catalogues


Toniak, Ewa, ed. 2011. 3 Women: Maria Pinińska-Bereś, Natalia LL, Ewa Partum. Warsaw: Zacheta National Gallery of Art [Exhib. Cat., Zacheta National Gallery of Art Warsaw (Mar. 1-May 8, 2011)]


Stepken, Angelika, ed. 2001. Ewa Partum: 1965-2001. Engl./Germ. Karlsruhe: Badischer Kunstverein [Exhib. Cat., Badischer Kunstverein Karlsruhe (Feb. 17-Apr. 16, 2001)]

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