Today, an exhibition of only female artists will open for the first time in the history of Saatchi Gallery. The exhibition, entitled Champagne Life, will feature 14 female artists from all over the world. Will it be an exhibition of little significance to feminism in art, or will it offer a brand new perspective?
From one side, the opening of Champagne Life has been acclaimed as a feminist move to promote female artists still underrepresented in contemporary art. Jonathan Jones recalls in the Guardian that visual art has been a particularly difficult field for women. For example, the technical knowledge of painting was handed down from one generation to the other by almost exclusively male artists and their apprentices.
From the other side, Champagne Life has been criticised as an unnecessary and forced move. A call for attention in a society where feminism-lite is becoming mainstream. Tavi Gevinson, in particular, defined the feminism promoted by some media as clickbait, good to attract readers.
Whatever your opinion is, it is important to consider that this exhibition at Saatchi Gallery is not the first all-female art exhibition to happen in recent months. No Man's Land opened in Miami with artworks from over 100 women. The exhibition was planned and organised by The Rubell Family Collection. No Man's Land and Champagne Life together, despite their differences, show that they are not an isolated phenomenon.
Champagne Life and similarly No Man's Lands is not only about giving space to women's expression in art. It not only means to reinsert a point of view that is often marginalised, if not completely excluded, from the history of art. It is what these female artists and their artworks do. It is what their points of view do. It is about changing the topic of discussion related to art and shaping new narratives—by, but not always directly about women.
Stephanie Quayle, one of the artists taking part in Champagne Life, said that the artworks were not chosen for a specific feminist message. She commented on The Guardian: "It's about pulling together artists from all over the world and showing how we're all working so differently and doing what it is that makes us want to get into the studio every day".
In the act of displaying artworks of female artists from different backgrounds and representing in this way a part of their reality, their everyday world, there is the willingness of build up narratives. New narratives about oneself and about others. This specific narrative, as others have done before, will change the perception that we have of art and of the world. In this sense, there is no need for a particular feminist message in the artworks displayed. The change is giving the sense of variety within points of view.
Some could say that there is not such variety in Champagne Life because there only women artists. Well, there are "just" the other 99.9% of art exhibitions that feature male points of view.
Image: 'A preview of Champagne Life' via Saatchi