New York, New Gender Perspectives: Interview with Jonny Star

Jonny Star, 500 SUPERUSCHIS (You Can Feel It), edition of 10, artwork to support the financing of the exhibition "kitchen girls and toy boys", 2015.
Jonny Star, 500 SUPERUSCHIS (You Can Feel It), edition of 10, artwork to support the financing of the exhibition “kitchen girls and toy boys”, 2015.

“Talking about categories of masculinity and femininity is essential and necessary for a respectful and tolerant society,” said Berlin-based artist and curator Jonny Star of her latest plans to stir up traditional gender roles with “kitchen girls and toy boys” at Rush Arts Gallery in New York. The group show, which Star both curated and contributed work, unites fifteen international artists who playfully engage with gender-role codification. Star is no stranger to discussions of sex and gender: after working under the name Jonny Star for years, her own identity is intrinsically bound to concepts of concepts.

“Most people think I am a male artist”, she explained. “And when they see my work they start to think that I must be gay. It is interesting how art is still read with popular concepts of gender and sexual orientation, and it’s so easy to cause a disruption with just a name.”

Jonny Star, toy boys 1, 2014. Copyright Jonny Star

Jonny Star’s practice is a critique of the patriarchal structures of the art market and the resulting discrimination against female artists. “Although there have been change sand women in the western world can live more freely, several statistics and the sales record for art auctions still demonstrate the inequality”. For Jonny Star, it is especially hard to bear. She said, “The field of art which is supposed to be forward thinking and unconventional, but is strikingly conservative maintaining patriarchal structures”.

Uniting people from across the artistic fields is the core of Star’s practice. “I want to have as many disciplines as possible in terms of visual and performance art in a show–they all bring different energies to the space,” Star points out. Her multidisciplinary shows create an intense atmosphere, affecting and involving each visitor. Emotions also play an important role. As Jonny Star put it, “We need to create a new system altogether. Art has the power to transform society and change the perception of the common gender roles.”

Text by Tina Sauerländer

“kitchen girls and toy boys” is funded partially by a crowdfunding campaign, and will be on display from 26 February until 7 March, 2015 at the Rush Art Gallery in New York City

See previews of more work from “kitchen girls and toy boys” below

More: Rad Hourani on designing unisex clothing

Fashion Editorial: Ivy League