Ewa Partum – Polish Feminist Conceptual Artist in the Context of Western Feminist Art Theories

Sat. April 23, 2016


eastern-western shadow

SOHO20 was excited to host a discussion on the work of artist Ewa Partum, in conversation with independent curator Ewa Opalka.

Ewa Partum is a Polish, feminist, conceptual artist, who started her artistic career in the 1960’s. She creates her works using visual poetry, performance, photography, video and television. During this event, we will present Ewa Partum’s works in the context of feminist art discourse, evolving a parallel to her artistic practice from 1960’s till now, and discussing the simultaneous influences between feminist theories and artistic practice. The former was widely expanding mostly in the West while the latter, in a non-western cultural context, was shaped primarily by specific geopolitical and cultural determinants, and the circulation of ideas in the realm of Iron Curtain was constantly challenged.

In September 2015 in New York City’s MoMA opened a presentation of its collection displaying conceptual art from Eastern Europe and Latin America 1960-1980. Transmissions presented artworks of nearly 300 artists and, among the others, Ewa Partum’s Autobiography (1971-74). The artwork was placed in the room which presented feminists artists from such distanced parts of the world as Cuba (Ana Mendieta) and former Yugoslavia (Sanja Ivekovič). One could have an impression that through this curatorial concept, the central shared category was artists’ attitudes towards market. Despite the curators’ good intentions and the desire to decentralize the discourse of art, this perspective was too reductive. This eventually became the impetus for this event, presenting Ewa Partum’s work in the context of feminist art theories. Thoeries, that in the realm of Cold War, were created mostly in the Western part of the world, and mainly in the United States.


Ewa Partum is well known in Eastern Europe where she is perceived as a pioneer of feminist art, as well as in Western Europe largely because of her move to Berlin in 1982, and her close cooperation with European Fluxus artists, such as Wolf Vostell. Her works are part of renowned collections, both public and private, such as TATE Gallery, London, UK, MOCA, Los Angeles, Women Museum Washington D.C., Frauen Museum, Bonn, Germany, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France, Museo Nacional de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrit, Spain.

Ewa Opalka (born 1982) – Polish researcher, critic and art curator. Mostly interested in feminist film and visual art theory. On the methodological level she uses such perspectives as biopolitics, bioethics and coroporeal feminism. She curated the exhibitions of such Polish female artists as Ewa Partum (‘Musical Scores’, Aleksander Bruno Gallery, Warsaw, 2015), Agnieszka Brzezanska (‘Ma terra’, Aleksander Bruno Gallery, 2014), Marta Deskur (‘If you shoot one of them’, MOCAK, Cracow, 2013). She created and coordinated film program in National Museum, Cracow. At present she works on her PhD thesis called ‘Re-medium. The experience of terminal disease and the contemporary women cinema’ and prepares the exhibition of Polish female sculptor Wanda Czelkowska scheduled for 2016 at Xawery Dunikowski Museum of Sculpture, Warsaw. In 2015 she took part in the Residency Unlimited New York residency program. In 2016 she received Polish Minister of Culture scholarship for young artists.

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