The Artists Placing a Bewitching Spin on Femininity in Berlin

 

Urban Witches Not Bitches
“Lammas” featuring Mad Kate

 

“Urban Witches is not a feminist exhibition. Rather, it exhibits a new way of seeing the feminine”

When an exhibition of all female artists rejects the term “feminist”, the world of gender politics does a double take, adjusts its glasses and shifts in a new direction. This is perhaps the intention of Viviana Druga, curator of the Galerie Neurotitan exhibition “Urban Witches Not Bitches”, whose artistic vision radicalises the norm.

The tagline of this show reads: “Urban Witches is not a feminist exhibition. Rather, it exhibits a new way of seeing the feminine”, which is subversive, seductive and bewitching. Photographer and performance artist Viviana Druga invited eight female artists from different disciplines to exhibit work in response to the pagan cycle of the seasons. Pagan images prevail throughout the artworks by artists Shaltmira, Moran Sanderovich, Frau Feeger, Gaff E , Labanna Babalon, Mad Kate, Viviana Druga and House of Dolls (aka Rubbish Fairy), who collectively create a new-age aesthetic for the contemporary world. In this exhibition, astrology meets rave culture, femininity is celebrated, paganism collides with punk and the urban witch is born.

 

Urban Witches Not Bitches
“Samhain” featuring House of Dolls (Rubbish Fairy)

 

Urban Witches Not Bitches
“Imbolc” featuring Moran Sanderovici

 

The first thing that catches the eye when walking into the gallery is the installation by House of Dolls, who creates art costumes from found objects. Nothing is rubbish in the eyes of this artist who turns old dolls, stuffed toys, and bottle caps into intricate headdresses that have a distinctly tribal vibe, and sets the tone for this exhibition’s modern day revival of the witch. House of Dolls features in Vivian Druga’s series of photographic portraits titled the “Pagan Wheel of the Seasons”, along with the other artists in the exhibition.

“These women are the icons of a new femininity, championing a witchy aesthetic for the contemporary world”

Druga finds similarities between the artist’s personalities and the characteristics of the different pagan seasons. Moran Sandervich’s sculptures of distorted female bodies covered in blood made from nail varnish, with female genitalia stuffed with violent fingers, embody the aggression and morbidity of war and death which in turn is reflected in the darkness of Imbolc (a Gaelic holiday taking place on 1 February) the season which Sandervich represents. Druga’s portrait of Sandervich captures the dark, melancholic nature of Imbolc, with images of bones and the paleness of Sandervich’s skin being the only light amidst the midnight black canvas.

 

Urban Witches Not Bitches
“Yule” featuring Shaltmira

 

Urban Witches Not Bitches
“Beltane” featuring Gaff E

 

Druga presents the artists as Goddesses in their own right, transforming their personalities and artistic identities into iconic images. The last season in the calendar, “Yule”, is represented by Lithuanian illustrator Shaltmira, who appears in a kaleidoscopic collage of snowflakes that evoke a distinctly neo-goth aesthetic; characteristic of Shaltimira’s illustrations. The season of Beltane (May) is captured by Australian performance artist and singer Gaff E, whose fun loving, playful personality shines through the psychedelic colours in her portrait. These women are the icons of a new femininity, championing a witchy aesthetic for the contemporary world.

Paganism and feminism have a longstanding relationship, a relationship which has its roots in the feminist historical interpretation of the Salem witch trials as attacks of pagan women by the male dominated church. By rejecting the term “feminist” Druga is not disputing the connection between paganism and feminism, nor is she disempowering women. Rather, she questions what it means to be feminist, and calls for the “new feminine” which is about celebrating the natural beauty of femininity, when untainted by the patriarchal lens.

 

Urban Witches Not Bitches
“Ostara” featuring Frau Feeger

 

Urban Witches” is on display at Galerie Neurotitan until 28 January 2017

 

 

 

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