A view from the other side: Champagne Life

New narratives arise from Saatchi Gallery's first all-female show, Champagne Life. Women artists find a place to express their voice and give a sense of diversity within the art world.

A view from the other side: Champagne Life

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


Elena Losavio

Elena Losavio Voice Reporter

Elena is a recent Master's graduate in English Studies. She writes about theatre, film and contemporary art. She is specialised in women's roles within media and the arts, and she creates A View from the Other Side, a monthly column on this topic. She occasionally writes short stories about her wanderings in Asia and never says no to new adventures.

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  • Bhavesh Jadva

    On 13 January 2016, 17:48 Bhavesh Jadva Voice Team commented:

    Fascinating! I love hearing about when art brings artists together to work as well as their fans together to experience it. I feel, though, that as much as feminism has been big cultural conversation for a few years, that there's been little expression of it in the arts world. Do you think so?

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