26.11.2021 – 13.02.2022
Museum Of Contemporary Art Warsaw
Wybrzeże Kościuszkowskie 22, Warsaw
Curators: Magda Lipska, Sebastian Cichocki, Łukasz Ronduda
For over a century debate has raged over women’s reproductive rights. Differing visions of society and the state, the role of religion, and the limits of individual freedom clash. Who should have the deciding vote on this matter: the society, or women themselves? This issue can fundamentally divide people and provoke acts of aggression. The account of personal, individual experiences—and especially women’s perspective—is lost in the debate.
“Who Will Write the History of Tears” is an exhibition about the relations between the female body and repressive laws. The title is borrowed from a work by the American artist Barbara Kruger and underlines the arduous process of women’s pursuit of their rights. The works presented in the exhibition strive to break through the impasse that has prevailed in the debate over abortion, to transcend the crisis of verbal and visual language. The aim is to wrest the topic of abortion from the control of political clichés. The artists draw on real stories and include in their works the entire spectrum of visual and poetic allusions, images and symbols, conveying the complexity of the experience of pregnancy and abortion.
For years this concrete, human experience was taboo. Speaking of it was prohibited or frowned upon. The exhibition addresses this social denial and the existential nature of this experience. That is why we show the story of the fight for women’s reproductive rights—historical events demarcating the stages of this battle. We give voice to the participants, but also examine the theme of abortion through emotions that convey its existential and individual dimension. We can see all of this for example in the etchings by Paula Rego from 1999, Abortion Series. These scenes of suffering, abandonment and despair played a key role in the fight for reproductive rights in Portugal in 2007.