In recent years there has been increased recognition of the fact that women are underrepresented and underpaid in the art world. The problem with awareness alone is that it runs the risk of residing in an echo chamber disguised as an East London pub in which everyone agrees it is outrageous but there is no tangible change. With 1% of the National Gallery's collection comprising of art made by women, Sarah Emily Green, founding director of nomadic platform MAMA, decided to take matters into her own hands. Alongside associate curator and writer Asia Éléonore Feliks, the duo created MAMA as a programme to help female artists enter and navigate the art world.
Taken literally, MAMA stands for nurture or birth - it is the feminised Dada. Since its launch in July 2022, the platform has curated three solo shows by artists Eleanor Ai Wang, Christina Dobbs and Or Lapid, as well as a group show featuring eleven intergenerational and international artists. Aside from this, MAMA functions as an advisory-for-artists, offering guidance with artist statements and residency applications, reviewing contracts and assisting with marketing to help to push women artists to receive global recognition.
Currently, MAMA is gearing up for its latest show titled 'MAXXED' by Turkish artist Lorena Levi. 'MAXXED' is Levi's latest work exploring the internal psychology of vulnerable masculinities seen in contemporary online subcultures, and will run from the 15th-16th April in London.
Looking to the future, MAMA hopes to see more representation and funding for women, along with supporting not just London-based artists but giving a voice to artists from regions who have typically been underrepresented in the art market. There's a lot of work still to be done to ensure women receive the recognition they deserve, but with platforms like MAMA, there is hope for the future.
F Word asked five of the women who have worked with MAMA:
What change would you like to see in the art world?
"I would like to see a lot more platforms like MAMA, owned and run by women, that recognize and highlight women artists. I think that institutions need to look harder to find and showcase women that rank equally in talent to the well known contemporary male artists that are regularly celebrated."
"In a way I'd like to see the commercial art world being a bit less glitzy/money/drugs fuelled - for it to be somewhere more welcoming to everyone, families, non-drinkers, different age groups."
"Younger curators/gallerists whose attitudes are geared to championing artists starting out and entering the art world that requires a lot of navigation. It would help with the confidence of emerging artists and allow them to have a supportive entrance into an industry that can be hard to do alone."
"I want to see the art world begin to reshape ways of seeing and understanding identity. Artists should be able to flourish as their own authentic selves, free from traditional labelling and mass categorising of one’s identity. I also want to have the option to display my work in more unconventional spaces as the white light and walls in many spaces trigger my migraines!"
"I realised whilst being at Slade that most of the artist’s I look at to reference are male and it bothers me so when you came to me with a platform that is solely for women artist’s I was immediately drawn to it."
Lorena Levi's solo exhibition 'MAXXED' will run from the 15th-16th April, 12-6pm. 10 Greatorex Street. London. E1 5NF