Art and Heritage in Central Europe
The underlying idea of the exhibition is to observe the parallel processes of modernisation and women’s emancipation accompanying the origin and development of modern Czech culture, which culminated during the first Czechoslovak republic (1918-1938). One of the keystones of these processes was the concept of civilised woman, variants of which concurrently appeared elsewhere in Europe.
Iin the German speaking countries the accepted usage was “Neue Frau”, in France she was termed “la femme nouvelle” and in the Anglo-Saxon world she was “modern woman”. However, the adjective “civilised” carries quite specific connotations. It refers to the modernist doctrine of progress, but simultaneously accentuates order, rationality, uniformity and discipline, by which the new age was to essentially distinguish itself from everything uncivilised, uncultivated, natural and undisciplined, both at the level of gender difference (reactionary and irrational women), and the racial/ethnic level (primitive “savages”).
The exhibition opens up important but so far unexplored niches of visual culture in Czechoslovakia between the wars. By studying the fine and often complicated web of relations between modernisation and women’s emancipation it also hopes to highlight their relevance – or challenge – for our present time.
The exhibition is available at Governor’s Palace in Brno from 8th October 2021 to 10th July 2022.
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