Curator: Leila Mehulić
Catalogue written by: Leila Mehulić
Designer: Nika Pavlinek
Photographer: Goran Vranić
Mimara Museum, 23 December 2013 – 31 March 2014
“Leila Mehulić selected 23 artworks and objects in the permanent exhibition that depict or embody a woman, belong to her daily life (ink bottle, coffee service, candlestick), or were made by a woman – which finally points to her particular roles in society. From the Palaeolithic to the 18th century: such is the time stretch that focuses on the woman and her ability to cope in ever complex circumstances.
A woman’s social position defines both her strengths and weaknesses, and it dictates the stereotype of how society perceives and how she perceives herself. From the original social communities to those of today, much has changed, but many occurrences seem to be permanent. It is the division of roles that seem to multiply, overlap, and complement each other: a mundane woman, a businesswoman, a wife, an activist, a lover, a sovereign.
Along these lines, Leila Mehulić selected 23 artworks and objects in the permanent exhibition that depict or embody a woman, belong to her daily life (ink bottle, coffee service, candlestick), or were made by a woman – which finally points to her particular roles in society. From the Palaeolithic to the 18th century: such is the time stretch that focuses on the woman and her ability to cope in ever complex circumstances.
Apart from a sign that serves as a signpost, positioned subtly but visibly, each object is explained in additional captions and accompanying short texts which concisely and straightforwardly introduce a visitor to a period and subsequently explain the position of women in it. The curator refers to the very object, its origin, etc., to the extent needed for a particular topic.
The series is arranged chronologically, but the examples show that the change in the position of women was not like climbing a staircase or precipitating down, but more like meandering where women finely balanced between private and public, coping with countless prohibitions, burden and imperatives – such as physical appearance, dictated by the aesthetic canons or fashion.
The exhibition is set up against a backdrop of woman-hating, humorous and ironic statements of famous philosophers and writers and voices of women writers from different periods, arranged across the exhibition venue floor. These statements add to the subject matter, thoroughly analysed by Leila Mehulić, who made it accessible to different target audiences; they imbue it with a complementary temporal, thematic and symbolic layer, an artistic, philosophical, and sociological reference. The project also points to the possibility of expanding to other subjects, which might present other permanent exhibition segments. In the polyphony of female voices, echoes of nearer or further times, a crucial touch with the present is achieved, along with the possibility to identify with one’s own role, the role of a mother, wife, friend… The museum exhibit has thus become clearer, closer, it is more prominent in relation to the occasionally deafening power of the entirety, which made it a possible key for its better understanding and appreciation.”
Vujanović, B. (2016), ‘Wife, Mother, Queen. The exhibition Female Characters of the Mimara Museum: from a Mistress to a Ruler’, Vijenac, 522.