“Good Girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere” – This saying became popular with the advent of the Riot grrrls movement, an underground feminist punk movement that combined feminism with punk style and politics, where women expressed themselves the same way men had been doing for decades. Bad girls reject the ‘good girl’ concept. They insist on their mature, complex existence.
The Riot grrrls found their equivalent in TV-Series like ‘Jessica Jones’, ‚Homeland‘ or ‚The Good Wife‘, that introduced a new type of medial representation of women: The Anti-Heroines. These Heroines are still powerful front figures, but refuse the moral expectations society puts on female role models and through them on women in general. The Anti-Heroine is no longer a pillar of strength, but a complex and sometimes unfamiliarly aggressive figure, often haunted by her own ambiguous existence. She bears traits of the powerful and fearsome female figures of the past like the Fates, the Witches, and the Amazons – long neglected, and yet, vivid visual tropes.
‘B-Side A Heroine – The Tale of the Anti-Heroine’ refers in its title to the B-side of Vinyl singles. The main song was recorded on the A-side. The reverse B-side gave space to titles that did not fit into concept of the album or were alternative, often more complex versions of the A-side.
The German-Israeli exhibition creates a visual narrative around the reverse side of the heroic female role model. Twelve visual artists explore the dark side of the idealist heroines that for so long shaped our ideas of how to be a “real woman”. The show conducts a visual research on the Anti-Heroine from folklore to popular contemporary culture. Is she a global phenomenon or does she wear country-specific cultural features? What kinds of Anti-Heroines inhabit the visual arts, a world that in itself challenges role models? Does this new medial presentation encourage women to discover their complexity, their power and their potential for aggression, to change role behaviours and demand equal rights on equal terms? Or is it nothing but entertainment?
Text: Cornelia Renz
The exhibition was initiated by Nino Biniashveli, Raya Bruckenthal and Cornelia Renz. All three are visual artists and grantées of the ‚Art Cube Artists Studios‘, an established residency grant program in Jerusalem. They share an interest in gender issues and decided to explore their common interest further. Triggered by the success of TV series like ‚Homeland‘ they took a specific interest in the image of the contemporary heroine that changed from a glamourous idol to an ambiguous heroine, bearing commonplace human traits. Following their personal backgrounds and the environment they live in, they emphasize the different viewpoints, narratives and struggles that are part not only of the Israeli society. Therefor they decided to have a look into whether and if so, how, there is a different approach to the idea of the Anti-Heroine by Jewish Israeli, Palestinian Israeli and German artists.
In cooperation with Tamar Gispan-Greenberg, Cornelia Renz as an artist curators develop the initial idea further. Based on the above mentioned accumulated experiences and as a collective endeavour B-Side A Heroine tries to investigate, question and eventually shake up worn out traditional ideas and standardised images of woman fabricated by the different societies.