Are You A Woman in Authority?
Curated by Broken Grey Wires
Phoenix Art Space, Brighton
Private View Friday 29 September 2023
Exhibition Dates: 30 September - 19 November 2023
Broken Grey Wires and Phoenix Art Space present an exhibition of work by artists who explore empowerment, gender, and community in their practice. Are You A Woman in Authority? communicates the powerful rhetoric behind key social issues: mental illness, class struggles, race, queerness and feminist discourse, and how these intersect. It brings together established, critically acclaimed artists and provides a platform for emerging artists.
Janine Antoni - Bobby Baker - Lizz Brady - kevanté ac cash - Lynn Hershman Leeson - Permindar Kaur - Sarah Lucas - Sarah Maple - Tracey Moffatt - Jade Montserrat - Zanele Muholi - Anya Paintsil - Charlotte Prodger - Martha Rosler - Carol Sommer
How much does identity, gender, sexual preference and disability impact our opportunities in society? Do women, or those identifying as non-binary need to work harder to be successful?
These questions preoccupy the curatorial vision behind Are You A Woman in Authority? with works by leading artists, including Sarah Lucas, Jade Montserrat, Zanele Muholi and 2018 Turner Prize winner Charlotte Prodger. The exhibition also sees the second iteration of the Mad Manual Toolkit and The Comfort Zone.
Featuring photography, interactive installation, video and painting, the exhibition works resonate with the personal mental health experiences of Brady herself, having founded Broken Grey Wires in 2016 after a period of continued mental health crisis.
Rooted in the lived experience of illness, the Mad Manual Toolkit gives audiences the autonomy to explore the exhibition in their own way, with a range of suggested activities, themed around writing, drawing, mindfulness and movement.
Red, yellow and green badges accompany the toolkit to encourage or discourage approaches to visitors by gallery staff, creating a safer environment to experience the artwork.
The Comfort Zone is a space where people can reflect on the exhibition, rest, read zines, drink tea or simply lie on the sofas with a blanket.
“This was the most wholesome experience I ever had with art. I didn’t know that something like this could touch me in this way. I honestly got quite emotional when I entered the comfort zone.” – Maria (after visiting Two Plus Two Makes Four at The Auxiliary, Middlesbrough. February 2023)
Throughout the exhibition there will be a programme of artist residencies, talks and a family focused workshop, including collaborations with Outside In and Brighton's Women Centre.
If I loved you it was because of your hair. Now that you are without hair, I don't love you anymore, 2010 © Sarah Maple
Kitchen Show (publicity image) LIFT, London, 1991. © Bobby Baker. All rights reserved, DACS/Artimage 2022.
Photo: Andrew Whittuck
“The ‘Are you a woman in authority?’ project has been a much quicker process, from my initial ideas to reality, due, I think, to the current societal situation we find ourselves in - a worldwide mental health crisis, increased homophobia/transphobia, sexism and misogyny. That burning desire to create a space for people to interact, to relax, to learn and to connect, has increased. Because it is vital to explore these issues, it is vital to communicate our fragile emotions and to develop opportunities for communities to relate to one another.
I hope that by building this vulnerable, strange, joyful, precious, somewhat broken space, I can convey the power of conversation, of sharing and how healing it can be when we can relate to others. I hope to see you in September!"
- Lizz Brady, curator and Director of Broken Grey Wires
"I am so delighted to be working with Broken Grey Wires on this important and necessary exhibition. Mental ill health has been a hidden subject for artists for centuries. Through the curation of this group of works we can open doors to new conversations and approaches to connecting with art from a range of perspectives”.
- Lucy Day, Executive Director, Phoenix Art Space
Are You A Woman in Authority? is supported by Arts Council England.