International Women’s Day: meet the five PIPA Prize female winners

International Women’s Day, March 8th, brings visibility to various feminist struggles, from labour issues – originating with the labour cause, what marked March 08th as the celebration’s date – to the demand for gender equality. In the field of fine arts, female participation was pretty much nonexistent until the Modernist era, when some women began to take up space in galleries.

In Brazil, important names came up in the twentieth century, such as Tarsila do Amaral, Anita Malfatti, Tomie Otake and Lygia Pape.

However, despite some significant changes, the situation is still significantly uneven. The Guerrilla Girls collective has been internationally known for raising the banner since the 1980s, “Do I have to be naked to be at the Met Museum?”, were questions they would propose. The movement denounced that less than 5% of the artists exhibited in the American museum were women, while 85% of the nudes exhibited were female bodies. At the same time, in 1985, a selection of galleries in the USA indicated that in these institutions only 10% of the artists presented – in individuals or two people group shows – were women. By 2014, that number has risen – slowly – to 20%. In 2017, the feminist collective presented an exhibition in Brazil for the first time and held at Masp, in São Paulo. More than one hundred posters that called out the small percentage of presence of women and people of color in collections of museums, galleries and private collections we exhibited.

To strengthen this day and give visibility to women’s artwork, we have listed the five PIPA Award winners over the last ten years, responsible for enriching contemporary Brazilian art:

Renata Lucas (2010 PIPA Prize winner) was born in Ribeirão Preto, SP, and graduated in Fine Arts from the State University of Campinas, dedicates herself to sculpture. Over the years, the artist ‘s work consists of modifying – or creating – urban structures in Brazil and abroad. With these interferences, she proposes to discuss institutional structures and question the apparent sociability of spaces. Renata has already participated in dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, Germany, in 2012, Sydney Biennial in 2008; Biennial of Venice, 2009; Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona, 2009, 12th Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul, Turkey, in 2011, Art Basel Miami Beach in Miami, USA, in 2011.

Tatiana Blass (2011 PIPA Prize winner) was born in São Paulo, SP, and graduated in Fine Arts from Universidade Estadual Paulista. The artist develops works in different supports, like paintings, videos, sculptures and installations. She also mixes different fields of the art, like theatre, music, literature and circus arts. Through her work, she presents pieces which highlight the difficulty of creation of communication “through cuts, dissimulations of figures, suffocation of sound and dissolution of matter”- as her wax manequins are exposed to light, or the piano that is clogged with hot wax has its sound stopped with this intervention. 

Tatiana was a finalist for the Nam June Paik Award in Germany; She was a member of the Grants & Commissions of the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation in Miami and in 2013 was commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver to develop Electrical Room, an unprecedented video installation, carried out in Brazil and abroad.

Alice Miceli (2014 PIPA Prize winner) was born in Rio de Janeiro and graduated in Cinema from the École Supérieure d’Etudes Cinématographiques, in Paris, France. The artist develops a series of works in which she records, through photography and videos, physical or cultural traumas that have marked certain natural or urban landscapes. Miceli recorded, for example, the effect of landmines in Cambodia, Angola and Colombia, as well as the atomic impact still visible in Chernobyl.

Her work is exhibited in festivals and institutions around several countries, including Japan Media Arts Festival in Japan; Festival TRANSTIO_MX, in Mexico City, Mexico; Transmediale Festival in Berlin and Documenta XII in Kassel, Germany; and the artist has already taken part in residencies at MacDowell Colony (USA), Bogliasco (Italy), Bemis (USA), Djerassi (USA) and Dora Maar House (France).

Virginia de Medeiros (2015 PIPA Prize winner) was born in Feira de Santana, BA, and holds a Master’s degree in Visual Arts from the Federal University of Bahia. “Displacement, participation and fable” are some of the effects that Virginia intends to achieve in her work. The artist makes documentaries to create subjective materials, in the form of visual projects or video installations, mixing the language of art and cinema. 

Her works have been exhibited in numerous exhibitions, amongst them, 2016 Behind the Sun-Marcantônio Vilaça Award, HOME, Manchester, UK; The replica Infiel, Centro de Arte 2 de Mayo, Madrid, Spain; Set to go, Vilnius Contemporary Art Center (CAC), Vilnius, Lithuania; Language of the Carioca body [the vertigo of Rio], MAR Museum of Art of Rio, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 2015 How to (…) Things That Do not Exist – 31st São Paulo Biennial, Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto, Portugal, and other countries. 

Bárbara Wagner (2017 PIPA Prize winner) was born in Brasilia, DF, and holds a postgraduate degree in Visual Arts from the Dutch Art Institute in Arnhem, Netherlands. Barbara explores by way of her photographs the representation of what is considered the “template body” in pop culture. Some series that mark her artistic trajectory are “Faz que vai”, “Mestres de cerimônia” and “O que é bonito é pra ser visto”, a series of published photographs.

Amongst the artist’s projects, are the 33rd Panorama of Brazilian Art (São Paulo, Brazil), the 36th EVA International (Limerick, Ireland), the 32nd Biennial of São Paulo (São Paulo, Brazil), the 5th Skulptur Projekte (Münster, Germany) (2006) where she developed the photographic essay “Brasília Teimosa”. She also published it in a book in 2007, and was selected by the program Rumos Visuais, Itaú Cultural Institute, and, in 2010, her work entered the MAM-SP photography collection and was exhibited in galleries like Luisa Strina (São Paulo), A Gentil Carioca (Rio de Janeiro), Instituto Wyspa (Poland), FotoTrier (Germany), Fesman (Senegal) and Bulegoa ( Spain).

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