Chantal Akerman and Annette Messager Exhibition Pays Homage to Female Artistic Ingenuity

Two legendary female artists to celebrate Women's History Month.

Mémoire-Robots (2015)
Photo: Espace Louis Vuitton

The Espace Louis Vuitton in Munich has opened the exhibition Les Approches, displaying works by Chantal Akerman side by side with pieces by Annette Messager, with the support of the Foundation Louis Vuitton.

The exhibition explores a common thread in both artists’ oeuvres, whose specific blend of existential and autobiographical elements served their mutual quest to challenge representations of women, as well as improve the position of female artists in the broader critical context of the visual arts since the 1970s.

Akerman, who passed away last year, has been extremely influential throughout her career in the realms of avant-garde and feminist filmmaking. Her films use a range of traditional cinematic modes as well as various experimental approaches to create narratives and express various themes of identity and relocation.

From<i>Femmes d’Anvers en Novembre (Women from Antwerp in November) </i>, 2008 <br>Photo: Espace Louis Vuitton

Chantal Akerman, still from Femmes d’Anvers en Novembre, (2008)
Photo: Espace Louis Vuitton

The ground floor of the exhibition space is dedicated to Akerman’s double-screen video projection Femmes d’Anvers en Novembre (Women from Antwerp in November), 2008. The work is a tribute to a woman smoking; distinctive despite the seemingly routine nature of the action, Akerman’s work mirrors aesthetics from French and American film noir.

French artist Annette Messager shares this focus on representation of women, often eccentrically employing processes such as knitting and sewing as well as conventionally feminine garments and even toys. Her work threatens traditional typecasts of the female with defiant interpretations of her own. (She was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 2005 for her puppet-motif transformation of the French Pavilion).

<i>Ma collection de proverbes (2012)</i> <br>Photo: Espace Louis Vuitton

Annette Messager, Ma collection de proverbes (2012)
Photo: Espace Louis Vuitton

Messager’s Ma collection de proverbes (2012) occupies the upper gallery. These thirteen embroideries of patronizing statements of women are biting in their simultaneous embrace of the craft of needlepoint and rejection of generalizations of femininity. Multiple sculptures by Messager, such as Mémoire-Robots (2015) and the namesake of the exhibition, Les Approches (1973), are also on display in the upper gallery.

<i>Les Approches (1973)</i><br>Photo: Espace Louis Vuitton

Anette Messager, Les Approches (1973)
Photo: Espace Louis Vuitton

As detailed in a press release, “Les Approches” is the first of two shows set to open at the Munich venue this year with a focus on “female artistic ingenuity,” and is part of the Fondation’s exhibition project curated with previously unseen holdings of its collection.

Chantal Akerman, Annette Messager, “Les Approches,” is on view at Espace Louis Vuitton Munich from March 4 – September 24, 2016. 

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