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TRIP TO MADRID: Reina Sofía Museum and Matadero Contemporary Art Center

April 2015  (1) (2) A trip to Madrid was organized for the students and scholars of the 8th edition as part of the activities programmed for the Erasmus Mundus GEMMA Master’s course. The purpose of the trip was to become acquainted with the results of the R&D project “Museum Collections from a Gender Perspective: Case Studies of Museo del Prado, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Museo Arqueológico Nacional and Museo del Traje”, destined to claim the presence of women in cultural practices as active and participating subjects in historical processes, and their inclusion in museums, understood as a patrimonial space.

This project was managed by Marián Fernández López-Cao, tenured professor at the Department of Education at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, and the coordinator for the Interuniversity Master’s Degree in Art Therapy and Artistic Education for Social Inclusion. Earlier this year we were honoured to receive Professor Marián Fernández López-Cao as a GEMMA visiting scholar at the University of Granada. During the trip to Madrid professor Marián Fernández López-Cao offered the GEMMA team a guided visit of the Reina Sofía Museum and Matadero Contemporary Art Center. She also shared the results of her last R&D project, “Museum Collections from a Gender Perspective: Case Studies of Museo del Prado, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Museo Arqueológico Nacional and Museo del Traje”. Professor Marián Fernández López-Cao is the main researcher in the above mentioned R&D project, which was destined to vindicate the presence of women in cultural practices as active subjects. This research project, along with the support of Asociación E-Mujeres, resulted in the implementation of a variety of itineraries destined to raising consciousness about the presence of women in art, not only as an object of representation in artworks, but also as creators.

-1One of these itineraries, in fact, was the one Marián Fernández chose as part of the guided GEMMA visit to the Reina Sofía Museum. The itinerary, “A Feminist Look on the Avant-Garde”, offered a tour around some 20th century artworks which gather representations of women and the “feminine”, from women in factories in the early days of Modernity and Industrialization, including the Spanish War militiawomen, and beyond the 60´s, when feminism becomes stronger within art movements and makes visible the androcentric systems of representation. Thus, in these artworks we find a variety of representations of women from the male gaze: the images of women participating in the May 1st demonstrations, by Spanish photographer Alfonso; the femmes fatales as Pablo Picasso or Julio Romero de Torres’s fetish, or women as dolls and mannequins according to Salvador Dalí or Denise Bellon. In contrast, we also find women artists, such as Dora Maar, Germaine Dulac, Maruja Mallo, María Blanchard, Sonia Delaunay, Loïe Fuller, Nancy Spero or Cindy Sherman, who are an exception in the dynamics of absences in international and Spanish surrealistic movement. -2 (1) In the afternoon, the GEMMA group rejoined Marián Fernández López-Cao for one last guided visit of the day: the temporary exhibition “Guerrilla Girls. 1985-2015”, which commemorates the thirty years since the foundation of the collective. Guerrilla Girls’ works are part of the so-called Feminist Art movement, destined to uncover those fictions which, by means of notions such as “genius artist” and “masterpiece”, propagate the concept of art as independent of its social and historical context. Thus, Guerrilla Girls criticizes that mythologization of art classified as Higher or Mainstream or Minor or Alternative depending on the sex and race of the producer. Furthermore, the exhibition speaks out against sexual and racial discrimination in museums, galleries and art magazines. The majority of their works exhibited are simple posters with a patent and powerful critical message, from which the famous “Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?” stands out. GEMMA students and scholars were photographed standing in front of the giant version of this poster. -3 To sum up, the trip to Madrid and the guided visits to the numerous exhibitions offered a fresh and critical gaze towards art, and a renewed consciousness about the obvious sexual and racial discrimination in museums. The GEMMA group enjoyed the visit and learned lots from this unforgettable experience.

Review written by Melissa Peláez and Laura Tejero.

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