Second Sex, Gender Check and the Feminist Avant-Garde

Research Seminar Series: “Shifting Images and Ideas of Europe’s East: An Art Historical Approach from the Margins”

  • Event open to the public without registration
  • Datum: 30.03.2023
  • Uhrzeit: 15:00 - 17:00
  • Vortragende: Beáta Hock
  • Ort: Villino Stroganoff, Via Gregoriana 22, 00187 Rome and online
  • Kontakt:
Second Sex, Gender Check and the Feminist Avant-Garde
Speaking of Europe often presupposes the existence of a stable unity of people with a common history, culture and identity. Yet it is not only the current political crisis that reveals major imbalances within the continent, where the gap between ‘West’ and ‘East’ looms particularly large. This series of research seminars offers the opportunity to read Europe's East from a historical perspective, in its relationship to other European regions, some of them (self-)declared as the center, as well as to the neighboring continent of Asia.

We will examine how both sides discursively negotiated questions of identity and significance, as well as geographical and cultural boundaries. We will use artifacts and performative cultural practices to understand how the associated processes of inclusion and exclusion did function, how Europe was repeatedly produced and constructed in the changing field of tension between East and West, and under what conditions and with what intentions these shifts did occur.

4th Research Seminar “Second Sex, Gender Check and the Feminist Avant-Garde”

By the early 2000s, a more or less solidified art critical consensus was in place with reference to feminism and women’s art in the Soviet Bloc: as there was no Western-style grassroots feminist movement under socialist rule, there was no art practice that can be meaningfully interpreted from a feminist perspective, either. This only changed in the mid-1990s when artists could find inspiration in feminist discourses finally becoming accessible after the Iron Curtain had been lifted.

The seminar presentation sets out to engage with this “discourse of lack” and critically reconsider the alleged absences or presences of feminist art in socialist Eastern Europe. The talk will briefly discuss how two survey exhibitions (Sexond Sex, 2000, Hungary and Gender Check, 2009-10, Vienna and Warsaw) approached women artists’ creative aspirations in the 1970-80s, before it more closely engages with two selected art works by Hungarian artists, neither of which featured in the survey exhibitions.

Beáta Hock is Senior Researcher at the Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe (GWZO), Leipzig. Her areas of research and teaching include East-Central European art and art history, feminist cultural theory, and the cultural dimensions of the global Cold War. In the academic year 2015–16 Beata was visiting professor at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London; in 2021/22 she was Käthe Leichter Visiting Professor in Gender Studies at the University of Vienna. Beata also occasionally works as independent curator.

For participation online, please follow this link:

Scientific organization: Jana Graul and Seraina Renz

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