The femininity we choose by Maria Pavlovska
The idea of femininity has inspired and triggered various of the most important artistic and literary creations in the history of mankind. Either as an idealised concept or a notion subject to change with social and cultural movements, the concept has evolved and sparked multiple reflections. Artist Maria Pavlovska pays attention to the continuous redefinition of femininity throughout history and reveals her insights in the video-project installation "Mrs. & Ms. X'' at Palazzo Mora.
For the second time, Pavlovska has joined the European Cultural Centre for the biennial contemporary art exhibition Personal Structures and does so with a track record behind her. Born in Skopje, Macedonia, and today based in New York, Maria Pavlovska is an emerging contemporary artist with two decades of continuous presence on the European stage and a growing one in the United States and Asia. After the success of the presentation of the project “Mrs. & Ms. X” at the XIII Florence Biennial 2021 in October, the project was presented at the OSTEN Biennial of Drawing 2022 in March and then eventually further invited to showcase its innovative and visually striking work in Venice for ECC’s art exhibit.
The opportunity to share her work in an international and culturally rich setting like Venice was a true honour for Maria. “I felt a measure of personal and professional satisfaction for my work to be internationally noticed and invited to be a part of this exciting and inspirational mix of younger and more established artists alongside legendary names in art history in such an elite and energetic setting”, explains the artist. In addition to the artistic uniqueness, the Personal Structures exhibition also aims to be a space where conversations can flourish, especially those that are put under the spotlight like the preconceived notion of feminity.
Video still of 'Mrs. & Ms. X'
Video still of 'Mrs. & Ms. X'
A historical (re)definition
In Personal Structures, Maria brings forward her thoughts and observations on the concept of femininity and how it is explored in its various forms. According to the artist, “the video installation ‘Mrs. & Ms. X’ functions like a kind of reflection or map of ubiquitous female energy, which represents the multilayered, complex nature of the female element - from the woman as Mother Earth to the woman Mrs. & Ms. X”.
The work combines polar black and white colours with a specific expressive style that is unique in both the Balkan region and on an international scale. She uses vivid images - made up of striking, non-existent moves - and combines three key elements: the wire, the circle and the wall. The continuous interactions between conflicting colours and shapes transform the video into a visual narrative of polar opposites: light and dark, full and empty, black and white. A kind of polarisation and diversity that can be found with feminity.
The artwork pulls inspiration from the different forms of the feminine and femininity as seen in the past. The idea of femininity as a reflection of divinity, as a spiritual love that crosses the boundaries of time and as a source of purification and elevation as in the classical creations of Beatrice of Dante Alighieri and Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s “Eternal Feminine”. But it also looks into the emerging forms and expressions in today’s world.
'Mrs. & Ms. X' at Palazzo Mora
Pavlovska highlights the importance to observe how femininity has been transformed and is still being transformed by the thrust of social and cultural movements such as those that have developed around feminism(s) and LGBTQ communities. From the sexual revolution of the 1960s to the battles for equal opportunities, up to the debate on gender identities, there are countless stimuli that have led to a redefinition of the concept of femininity, increasing its complexity and multidimensionality even more.
With ‘Mrs. & Ms. X’, Maria does not intend to stop at this dichotomy, but rather open it up to the widest plurality of points of view. With this intention, the artist invites visitors to further reflect on the complexity of the woman and her transformation individually and throughout history. “How can femininity be represented in contemporary art?”, “What aspects have changed in today’s society?” and “How can art and design contribute to reducing gender inequalities?” are some of the questions Maria Pavlovska encourages us to explore.
You can visit Maria Pavlovska's video-project at Palazzo Mora until the 27th of November or discover her work by exploring the virtual tours online. Discover more about the artist on her profile online or website. In addition, the artist will be publishing a monograph about this project, in which the exposure at Florence, Osten & ECC - Venice Biennale are featured.