LES FEMMES DU FEU
22 September – 3 November 2022
“I grew up with surrealism. I took it for granted that art is essentially an act of freedom. You react to the world totally freely. I met many artists in New York who believed progress is linear, from figure to abstract. In my work I never followed that idea. I always thought that art is not quite self-expression but communication. It is saying, hey, look!” – Hedda Sterne 
“They are peaceful, serious creatures. They know the secrets of the sea, they don’t bark, and they don’t gnaw upon one’s monadic privacy like dogs do.”
 Excerpts from Hedda Sterne in a conversation with Joan Simon, during one of her last interviews, Art in America, 2011.
As said the 19th-century French poet Gérard de Nerval about his habit of taking his lobster for a walk in the Palais Royal gardens in Paris. Friends and colleagues, how do you feel now? After these last years, the pandemic unceasing, but we are adapting to that, and to the unsettling new era we live in, in Europe the war in Ukraine has been going on for six months now, we all know we are living on the edge of an impending ecological (and possibly nuclear) apocalypse. The climate worldwide is acting more erratic and wilder than ever and still, so many people in power are ignoring all the warning signs, and on top of this, the world is actually spinning faster than before.
I know I feel dizzy, here in between different ages and possible futures, so to counteract this constant vertigo, the spring of 2022 I started practicing the five Tibetan rites. Every day I spin 21 times – towards the right as I live on the Northern hemisphere – and then I remember that I am part of nature, air and the ocean, and the oceanic part of me is connected by memory to all the water on Earth and we are spinning, moving together. I was traveling by train this summer – through Europe, from Cambridge to London to Paris to Prague to Vienna to Budapest, seeing the landscape unfolding slowly, floating by outside the window in the same pace as we have been traveling for the last 200 years, and quite different from the hectic feeling of air travel – while reading Peggy Guggenheim’s memoirs I came across her notes about Hedda Sterne. After both women were forced to flee Europe during the WW2 Sterne was as so many other artists starting a new life in exile in NYC, and she was included in the legendary exhibitions “31 Women” in 1943 and “The Women” in 1945 at Guggenheim’s Art of this Century gallery, with surrealist iconic artists Leonora Carrington, Leonor Fini, Meret Oppenheim, Dorothea Tanning and Frida Kahlo among others. Surrealism has a history of traveling – from all over Europe in the early 20th century to Paris, to NYC during the 1940s, and onwards to and merging with the art in Mexico, and in the surrealist art you see their world and people reflected as through an obscure and magical looking glass, sensual and amazingly mesmerizing, an animated, surprising and emancipated world not constricted by normal laws of neither physics nor realism. How do we, artists, curators, and writers respond to our current crises and conflicts – how do we react to this time in our art? The current Venice Biennale explores ecofeminist visions, by remembering the past and rewriting herstory, and finally gives Leonora Carrington her due place in art history. Similarly, Documenta in Kassel introduce new perspectives; collective and activist art practices that take inspiration from the global south, the value shifted from the art objects and to the actual effect on local communities, and nonlinear perspectives and an expanded understanding of time, rituals and history as illustrated by projects such as Black Quantum Futurism, Saodat Ismailova and OFF-Biennale Budapest.
Perhaps a new wave of surrealism is on the horizon. Similarly to the 1920s post pandemic, post first world war-feelings of upheaval and chaos, now again in 2022 surrealism makes sense. When Sector 1 gallery’s director Andreea Stanculeanu asked me to curate a show this new wave of surrealism was the theme I chose to focus on. As an artist my curatorial method is intuitive and based on collective artistic research, and in LES FEMMES DU FEU we present a group of Norwegian and Romanian artists who are all working within the landscape of surrealism, reflecting on the surreal with various mediums and methods and from different viewpoints. The artists in LES FEMMES DU FEU are all women and within the exhibition we are weaving spiderly treads through time and space and creating a collective conversation, from the original surrealist works of Hedda Sterne (1910-2011) and Geta Brătescu (1926-2018) to new works by the contemporary artists Mi Kafchin, Ioana Ursa, Tincuța Marin, Codruța Cernea, Marianne Darlén Solhaugstrand, duo Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen and Ingrid Torvund. I am happy to present to you the group show LES FEMMES DU FEU at Sector 1 gallery Bucharest and would like to thank the artists for sharing their visions of new, parallel and alternative worlds and mystical, mythical and magical creatures with us.
(Text by curator Thale Blix Fastvold, Oslo, September 2022)
Thale Blix Fastvold (b.1978, Oslo) is a Norwegian artist and curator working primarily with photography, film, installation and performance art. Thematically centered within the frameworks of eco feminism, inter-species-collaborations and the more-than-human intelligence, she belives collaboration, communication and speculative storytelling is essential to envision new and more sustainable futures. Her work has been exhibited widely in Norway and internationally, her artist book “Ghost of M” was launched at the 57.th Venice biennale at the pavilion of Bosnia and Herzegovina and her latest film “I am Hydra” (2021) was released at Kunstnernes Hus Cinema in Oslo. She has a BA in photography from Istituto Europeo di Design in Rome, Italy, a Cand.mag (MA) in Art History and Literature from the University of Oslo, is educated a curator from Telemark University in Norway and has from 2018 been the elected Chair of the Norwegian organisation of Art Photographers.
The exhibition is part of the project Improving cultural entrepreneurship and the acces to culture by developing the series of exhibition On Master & Medium developed by Sector 1 Gallery, Bucharest, in partnership with VISP – Produksjonsenhet for visuell kunst, Bergen during Sep 2021 – Aug 2023. The total budget of the project is 217.146 Euros, of which the value of the non-refundable financial support is 195.431 Euros.
VISP is a resource and networking organisation for the visual arts in Norway, working to improve and facilitate conditions for the production and dissemination of visual arts. VISP represents all of the creative community within the visual arts, including artists, galleries, institutions, producers, curators, critics and suppliers of materials and services. The membership within the organisation is free.
Founded in 2017, Sector 1 Gallery is a contemporary art gallery placing emphasis on the artist’s vision and on the freedom to create. The gallery represents both contemporary and Post avant-garde Romanian artists and develops local and international projects in collaboration with curators and art professionals.
 André Breton writes in his Surrealism Manifesto (1924): SURREALISM, n. m. Pure psychic automatism by means of which one intends to express, either verbally, or in writing, or in any other manner, the actual functioning of thought. Dictated by thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, free of any aesthetic or moral concern. ENCYCLOPEDIA. Philosophy. Surrealism is based on the belief in the superior reality of certain forms of previously neglected association, in the omnipotence of dream, in the disinterested play of thought. It tends to the destruction of all other psychic mechanisms completely, and to the replacement of them with itself, in solving the principal problems of life.
Sector 1 Gallery
Baiculești 29, Sector 1
(inside Combinatul Fondului Plastic)
Photographs will be made during this event. By participating in the event, you consent to the publication of the images on the social media channels of the organizer and of its project partners.
Project financed through the EEA Grants 2014-2021 within the RO-CULTURE Programme