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Below you can read the script for the Press Conference / Performance 2005, that YES! Association / Föreningen JA! held in conjunction with the opening of the exhibition Art Feminism – Strategies and effects in Sweden from the 1970s up to the present day at Dunkers Kulturhus in Helsingborg, 15th of October 2005.
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Hello and welcome to a presentation of YES! Association / Föreningen JA!. I’m Johanna Gustavsson. I’m an Artist. I’d like to introduce you to my colleagues in the board of YES! Association / Föreningen JA!; Fia-Stina Sandlund, Malin Arnell and Line S Karlström, all Artists and Anna Linder, Producer. Our association has collaborated with Leila Brännström, Researcher, Faculty of Law, University of Lund and with artist Lisa Nyberg for our graphic design.
We are artists who, individually as well as in various collaborations, for a long time have been dealing with the same issues that the exhibition Art Feminism wants to enlighten. That is issues such as power, human rights, norms and value hierarchies, representation and democracy, performativity and limits.
In February 2005, we were brought together to do a talk for the catalogue connected to Art Feminism. As a group, taking this meeting as our starting point, we started to reflect on the frameworks of the exhibition Art Feminism. We agreed on making use of the possibilities these talks created and to establish YES! Association / Föreningen JA! in order to widen the discussion into a forum for many more voices. This is the background for us inviting you here today.
Let us tell you more about YES! Association / Föreningen JA!
YES! Association / Föreningen JA! is an association with an aim to create fruitful circumstances for artists whose practices contribute to the overthrowing of the patriarchy.
YES! Association / Föreningen JA! is a separatist association for artists with a feminist practice.
YES! Association / Föreningen JA!’s goal is to overthrow the patriarchy by putting into practice a structural re-division of the access of financial resources and time within the art scene.
YES! Association / Föreningen JA! will not settle with a discussion.
YES! Association / Föreningen JA! works simultaneously on many levels.
YES! Association / Föreningen JA! keeps itself updated with the member’s situation by collecting facts in the form of statistics, by having an ongoing dialogue with artists, as well as with galleries and institutions.
YES! Association / Föreningen JA! works for spreading facts and gender divided statistics.
YES! Association / Föreningen JA! facilitates exchange between artists working with feminist issues by running a portal on the internet. The web site is formed with respect for the members’ needs.
Swedish equality between sexes is world famous. Sweden has one of the world’s most equal parliament and government. Our political parties almost unanimously claim to be feminists. In all political decisions, gender equality should be considered.
In Sweden, all stately run institutions are financed by public funding; taxes. They are a part of the equal Sweden. All those institutions are obliged to have and to follow an equality plan in their work. The equality plans are guide lines for the gender equality in the institutions. The plans are of no legal importance. They are only recommendations because of the term quality.
The meaning of quality is defined by those who are in leading positions in the art world and the gender representation on those posts is very imbalanced. This fact has lead to that the term quality also has turn out to be very narrow, with the consequences that the representation concerning exhibitions and purchases has gone the same way. Although the institutions sometimes express a will to discuss and redefine the concept of quality, it’s still a fact that quality per se has made equality and gender equality impossible within the art world.
A usual misunderstanding when talking about equality issues is to describe those questions as the problem, when in fact they are the possible solution. Rather it’s the term quality that is, if not the problem, so at least an obstruction. But there are some simple solutions on how to solve this problem; YES! Association / Föreningen JA!’s suggestion is to make this possible by letting quotation precede the term quality, and simultaneously discuss the concept of quality.
YES! Association / Föreningen JA!’s activities aim towards the future. We don’t like unnecessary digging in the past. We like to present you to some statistics, only so that we all know the starting point.
Let us first say some words on the gathering of information.
We sought information on the institutions equality plans and how those where complied. We asked questions on the institutions considerations of sex, ethnicity and class. At first we looked for facts among the publicly shown information at the institutions web pages. Here we found Liljevalchs to be very open on information on shows and staff. On the contrary both at Riksutställningar and Dunkers Culture house information was harder to access. We continued to look for information by searches on the internet, but to google on statistics + art turned out to be fruitless.
So we emailed the institutions with a request for their own information on equality and equality plans. Liljevalchs Art Hall and Dunkers Kulturhus both answered briefly by email that they don’t gather statistics, but attached their equality plans.
We succeed our request by phoning the institutions. We got answers as ” What do you mean by equality plan?” and” Equality plan? No, I don’t think we have anything like that.”. It’s probably not necessary for us to add that every public Swedish institution is obliged by law to have an equality plan.
We also contacted the Swedish National Council for Cultural Affairs and the Ministry of Culture to ask for current statistics. The statistics did not exist. Neither of them demands that kind of reports from the institutions that receive their financial support. The Ministry of Culture wanted, quote, ”keep the distance of an arm”, unquote. We interprete this as they don’t think they have enough competence to make a judgement. The Swedish National Council for Cultural Affairs asked us what equality statistics was. When we explained they said: ”You want hard currency? That’s difficult, you’ll have to make your own research. We just have fragments. We usually recommend our institutions to maybe have a show with a female perspective, but that’s all.”
Therefore the statistics we are able to present is of variable standards. Due to the fact that the kind of information we seek do not exist.
Dunkers Kulturhus house opened on April 27, 2002.
With 5 million Swedish crowns to purchase art.
By the end of April the same year, 2,5 million Swedish crowns were spent.
They were used as follows:
24 art pieces are purchased made by 16 artists.
Out of 16 artists, 3 are women and 13 are men.
Out of the 24 art pieces that are purchased, 6 are made by a woman, and 18 are made by men.
Dunkers Kulturhus is criticized as a consequence of this imbalance, promises to spend the rest of the 2,5 million Swedish crowns more wisely.
In December of 2003 Dunkers Kulturhus has spent the remains of the budget and makes an exhibition to show of their collection. The exhibition is entitled: “The collection – contemporary art in focus”. Unfortunately, even this time the men are in majority.
In the reply via e-mail that Dunkers Kulturhus sent, were attached their equality plans along with the statistics we had asked for. The answer was as follows: “In the exhibitions we made since our opening in 2002 the number of male exhibitors are 40, not including the exhibition “Nude ladies and men with moustaches”, an exhibition with artworks from the 19th century from our collection with paintings made by 93 men and 18 women and about 20 pieces with unknown origin. In the exhibitions we made since our opening in 2002 the number of female exhibitors are 40, not including the exhibition “Nude ladies and men with moustaches”, an exhibition with artworks from the 19th century from our collection with paintings made by 93 men and 18 women and about 20 pieces with unknown origin. We don’t know why the exhibition “Nude ladies and men with moustaches” should not be included in the statistics. We also don’t know why they choose to do such an exhibition.
The statistics has a double meaning. If we choose to read it in the way Dunkers Kulturhus wants, we find a 50- 50 situation, 40 women and 40 men. But if we include all exhibited artworks since the opening in 2002 the statistics read: 58 women and 133 men.
According to the same e-mail reply the personnel situation is as follows:
15 of the employees are men and 39 are women, a total of 54. Information on distribution of work is lacking. We checked their web page and found information on a total of 26 employees, 9 men and 17 women. Division of labor is as follows:
The men are employed as: director, music producer, graphical designer, 1:e art curator, 1:e antiquarian, museum educationalist, head of techniques, light and AV technicians and sound technician.
The women are employed as: event-coordinator (1), youth activities (2), bookings/visits/guided tours/etc. (1), head of PR (1), PR assistant (1), art curator/art educationalist (3), coordinator (2), reception/shop (2), antiquarian/exhibition producer (2) and librarian (1).
During the years 2003 – 2005 Liljevalchs konsthall has produced:
11 solo exhibitions, 5 by men and 6 by women. But out of these 11 exhibitions, 4 are so called “in between” exhibitions, meaning that they run a shorter period of time. 3 of the 4 “in betweens” were made by women artists.
3 group exhibitions, 2 of them “spring-show” were information on representation is missing. The third one is the exhibition “I linje” which includes 43 artists, 13 were women and 30 were men.
All exhibitions were put together by curators, all of them were men, with one exception; in the “spring-show” on design in 2005, the work is divided between a man and a woman.
The staff at Liljevalchs consists of 6 women and 5 men, all and all 11 persons. So far so good, but take a look at how the work is divided:
The men are employed as; director, curator, technician, carpenter and janitor.
The women work as: exhibition coordinator and events manager (1), registration – responsible for archive and bookings (1), reception and shop (1), economy (1) and web editor (1).
In the beginning of 2002, the curator of Liljevalchs konsthall, and also one of the curators of Art Feminism, Niclas Östlind, makes the following statement in front of an art class: “There are, unfortunately, no women artists with great enough production and with high enough quality to manage to make a retrospective exhibition at Liljevalchs.” A quote followed by harsh critique in the papers, the so called “herrklubbsdebatten” started by Stina Högkvist, and it seems as the critique was heard because after this Liljevalchs has and will show several women artists. But bearing in mind this statement and the agenda of Liljevalchs one easily reads Art Feminism as an alibi whose main purpose is to clean up the institutions reputation. And one asks; what will follow this exhibition? Dare we hope that this is the beginning of a long term change?
Riksutställningar’s statistics is hard to count, but this institution is mainly run by women. When we have gone through the projects labeled as art on their website we noticed that most of those projects had a woman project manager. Unfortunately, information about participating artists is mostly missing. In a report about art and power entitled: Why do things go wrong II? written by Anna Furmark, 2004, Riksutställningars Director – Ann Follin is interviewed. She is asked: Could you describe similarities between people who work at an art institute? Do you feel that the staff belongs to a similar or diverse group? Do you think that content and representation go together? Organization and product? And if you do, how?
Ann Follin says: Concerning common characteristics among the staff: We have a very small flexibility amongst the stationary staff; a lot of us have been working here for a long time. In some cases this is the only place they have been working at. We have very few employees with other ethnic or cultural background. At the art department that becomes even more obvious. The persons represented there are much too similar when it comes to age, background and network. About similar content: The first question for an exhibition manager is always: Is this an interesting project, is this an urgent theme? The project manager decides what the artistic quality consists of in these projects. We are constantly working with improving quality in the incoming exhibition proposals. We do that by being clear about what type of projects we are interested in. We can not accept project based only on the background of the person behind it, it must have an urgent content. On the other hand, I think that we are going over these projects extra carefully before possible rejection.
We have chosen to use this quote under the headline Statistics because we believe that it describes the situation and the attitude towards changes within the institution. Where notions as ”we consider” and ”we are working very actively” becomes the institutions contribution to change.
We, YES! Association / Föreningen JA!, are no troublemakers, and as we have said before, we’re working FOR a solution; we’re working FOR a positive change. A general wish has been expressed from the institutions side as well as from the artists. So, we asked ourselves; what can we do? And which common steps can we take here today? Within the frames of this unique exhibition and in the company of friends among you artists and the institutions who have taken the step to create this show, we would now like to act. To make our contribution. So, in collaboration with a jurist we have produced a tool that will facilitate the equality work.
Because YES! Association / Föreningen JA! is not just an association with purpose to support high quality art, meaning art that contributes to the overthrowing of patriarchy. YES! Association / Föreningen JA! also stands for Equality Agreement.
The Agreement that we now are going to present works as a complement to the stately demands for equality plans , which only functions as recommendations and therefore are not binding. On the contrary the Equality Agreement is binding by law.
We hereby reach out a feministic hand towards: Dunkers Kulturhus, Liljevalchs konsthall, Riksutställningar, Gothenburg Art Museum and the Museum of Hälsingland as well as all other art institutions in Sweden, and hope that they want to shake it.
With these words we would like to present the EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES AGREEMENT!
EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES AGREEMENT
Set up between YES! Association / Föreningen JA! and Dunkers Culture house, Liljevalchs konsthall, Hälsinglands museum, Göteborgs museum and Riksutställningar.
Equal practice in relation to gender
According to this agreement, an equal exhibition program in relation to gender means that at least half of the exhibited works should be made by women. The practice would still be seen as equal should more than half of the works be made by women, as female artists have been, and still are, underrepresented at the state funded art institutions.
According to this agreement, an equal acquisition policy in relation to gender means that at least half of all acquired works should be made by women. The acquisition budget should be equally divided between the sexes. The institutions should aim for the entire collection to reach these standards.
According to this agreement, an equal staff recruitment policy in relation to gender means that at least half of the positions advertised after the agreement has been signed should be filled by women. The institutions should have equal distribution of men and women across salary levels as a long term goal.
Equal practice in relation to ethnicity
According to this agreement, an equal practice in relation to ethnicity means that the institutions’ selection of authors should reflect the ethnic diversity of society. The institutions are responsible to find current information about the ethnic make up of society from Statistics Sweden (Statistiska Centralbyrån) or other trustworthy sources.
According to this agreement, an equal acquisition policy in relation to ethnicity means that the acquisitions of the institution should reflect the ethnic diversity of society in regard to authors of the works. The institutions’ acquisition budget should take this under consideration. The institutions should constantly aim for its complete collection to reflect the ethnic diversity that currently exists in Sweden.
According to this agreement, an equal staff recruitment policy in relation to ethnicity means that the positions that are advertised after the agreement has been signed should be filled in a way that reflects the ethnic composition of society at the time. The institutions should have as a long term goal to mirror, across salary levels, the ethnic make up of society.
The exhibition programming, the acquisitions and the staff recruitment will be evaluated every two years. The first evaluation will take place two years following the date when the first institution signed the agreement. The next evaluation will take place after another two years, and so on. The agreement has no expiry date.
If, after evaluation, an institution is found not to be in compliance with this agreement, the institution will have to pay a fine of 10 000 SEK (to be adjusted yearly by percentage in relation to the base amount), for each percentage of deficient distribution in regards to gender or ethnicity within the exhibition programming, acquisitions and recruitment. The fine is payable to the YES! Association’s fund, which has been established to financially support artists who have been victims of discrimination due to their gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation.
If the terms of this agreement have not been fulfilled and the failure is due to the institution’s duties as prescribed by employment legislation, the institution will not be held accountable. Each institution is bound to this agreement upon ratification by the institution’s representative.
The YES! Association and the institutions each have a copy of this agreement.
Hereby we like to invite up on stage one representative from each institution to give them a copy of the Agreement. Since we are at Dunkers Kulturhus we find it suitable to start with asking 1rst Art Curator Magnus Jensner to come up.
We also see Niklas Östlind in the audience. Welcome up Niklas!
Ann Livion, Riksutställningar, are you here? In that case please come up to get your copy.
If there is any representative for Gothenburg Art Museum or the Museum of Hälsingland you are welcome to come and get your copies as well!
And now we would like to open up for 5 minutes of your questions. And since we have formulated our standing point in this issue very clearly we will choose only to answer your questions with Yes or No, hoping that you all will also articulate yourselves.
Now we’ll enter the exhibition to hang the Agreement, and sign our part of it. You’re all very welcome to join us.
We’ll also bring all the information we’ve gathered. You can look at it and we’ll stay for further question afterwards. We like finish by adding that YES! Association / Föreningen JA! is a temporary association, and the day it’s not needed anymore it will be closed down. Hopefully the association will not exist after the first evaluation in 2007, when the tour of Art Feminism is through. It should all be fixed by then.
Finally, we’d like to send our respect to Tiina Rosenberg who resigned her chair in the board for the political party FI a couple of days ago, due to harassments rooted in the homophobia and xenophobia that unfortunately still dominates this country, Sweden.
Translated by YES! Association / Föreningen JA! and Åsa Zandzén.