closed Birgit Jürgenssen. I am

The show

Opening: Thursday 7 March 2019, 7.00 pm

Curated by Natascha Burger and Nicole Fritz

Io sono is the first major retrospective that an Italian museum institution dedicates to Birgit Jürgenssen (Vienna, 1949-2003), one of the most important and sophisticated interpreters of the international feminist avant-garde.

The GAMeC - Galleria d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Bergamo pays tribute to this extraordinary and still undervalued artist by hosting an exhibition project born in close collaboration with Estate Birgit Jürgenssen, Kunsthalle Tübingen (Germany) and Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk (Denmark ).

A refined interpreter of the instances of her time, Birgit Jürgenssen drew on the languages of Surrealism to treat social conventions, sexuality, canons of beauty and relations between the sexes with an ironic language and a subversive humor that often involved the image of the artist herself . The staged body is never ostentatiously exhibited, but rather hidden and then revealed through the use of masks, inserts, natural materials, almost extensions, or prostheses, useful for plumbing the psychological and emotional depths of the feminine.

Divided into six sections , I am. will offer an exhaustive insight into the Austrian artist's production through over 150 works created in forty years of research , including drawings, collages, sculptures, photographs, rayograms, gouaches and cyanotypes.

The exhibition path will occupy all the rooms of the Gallery, from childhood drawings, signed "BICASSO", to more mature, large-format works, passing through linguistic and literary games, which tell the narration and representation contamination, up to focus, in the central part, on the two great themes that distinguish the artist's research: genre and nature .

Birgit Jürgenssen originally intended above all to show and challenge “the prejudices and behavioral patterns to which women are subjected in society”. To do this he adopted a sharp irony, playing with the different concepts of identity. The private home, seen as a place dedicated to female functions, becomes, in his works, a place of constraint, and everyday objects such as shoes, clothes and stoves are presented in an enigmatic or sarcastic way. The artist questions and deconstructs the myth of the power and desire of men without falling into the trap of a simplified dualism, extending his reflection to all gender models, both male and female, codified by society.

But since the seventies his thinking has evolved, opening up to new considerations on the profound nature of man and on the nature-culture relationship. These themes, hitherto overshadowed by the artist's experience, are widely described in the exhibition. Structuralism, Psychoanalysis and Ethnology have in fact stimulated Birgit Jürgenssen to question herself on the dialectic between the animal, instinctual component, and female identity, and on the devaluation and fetishism of the object.

Jürgenssen's “wild thought” pushes her to trace the relationships between man and animal on her own body. In this process the artist gives life to hybrid creatures, in which the animal is anchored, grafted inside the human being, according to a system of fluid relations. The same happens with plant elements, through a series of works that question the most common anthropocentric vision, promoting a systemic point of view around the processes of the living. What finds expression in the artist's works are bodies perceived not as forms, but as “formations”, living organisms that promote a “deep” ecological sensitivity , an attention to the intrinsic value of species, systems and natural processes.

Birgit Jürgenssen's work takes on a new meaning in our present: in a historical moment in which we are witnessing the questioning of fundamental principles and rights and a progressive trivialization of issues related to women and, more generally, to gender identity , his approach not rigidly ideological but more rooted in the individual and intimate sphere infuses new concreteness to the emancipatory power of art.

The exhibition is accompanied by a monographic catalog, published by Prestel, with contributions by Patricia Allmer, Michael Bracewell, Louisa Buck, Natascha Burger, Maurizio Cattelan, Melissa Destino, Marta Dziewańska, Heike Eipeldauer, Nicole Fritz, Lorenzo Giusti, Jessica Morgan, Marta Papini, Gabriele Schor, Jasper Sharp, Abigail Solomon-Godeau, Ninja Walbers.

On the occasion of the retrospective, the Public Program , the platform of meetings open to the public born from the collaboration with the G. Carrara Academy of Fine Arts, will address gender issues involving philosophers, historians and scholars of the feminist movement, artists and writers. At the same time, the Educational Services of the Gallery will propose a rich program of workshops, both for children and for adults, aimed at reflecting on the theme of roles in society and promoting interaction and dialogue between genders.

Works on display

Timetable and tickets


Via San Tomaso, 53
24121 Bergamo


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Until 28 August 2022

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