SUB ROSA ? giving flowers the subsoil treatment

"... After the experiments of the 1960s, all types of artifice were fully accessible by 1970. On the basis of the many aesthetic actions, it was possible to use artistic finesses to organise political demonstrations. Working artistically with the female body or the female world of experience gave the actions an added dimension in a political or feminist context. Women joined forces to do something which, on the one hand, undid the status of the art institution ? as, for example, when we wrapped up an art institution like a wedding cake. We made use of other categories of images when, for example, we displayed ourselves in the windows like whores. And, on the other hand, it was fan­tastic to do such things together ? an exploration of our own space. The exciting thing about the non-demarcated situation at that time was always taking that next step."[i]

But there was one step which we never took. Flowers were never a part of the escape run. An adventure I too was unwilling to be discovered taking part in ? not in public at any rate. For formal reasons, a single vase, without a flower, could appear in an exer­cise on form, light and shadow on a surface. Flower painting, with its history of being middle-class women's ? first and fore­most, innocuous ? pastime and decorative object, was so 'charged' that it remained a taboo ? and entering such territory had the feel of wanting to engage in a real kamikaze project. An infinite number of other challenges lay out there. Images, objects and clashes still not fully visible that were more insistent than the danger of throwing oneself into taboo areas that in actual fact were sheer pleasure.
I can still hear in my ears the remark made by a professor at the academy: 'My dear young lady...'. One had to get away from him ? for linguistic reasons alone.

A new conquest, such as the right to paint flowers, was never debated, never became an art-political slogan ? and at no time whatsoever a feminist object of struggle that could be placed in continuation of the gazes that, in occasional glimpses, were fixed on the horizon. The risk of even opening up the possibility of being inscribed in the (art)history of innocuousness, when the 'right' and unknown story of our artistic explorations had hardly begun ? and which had not in any way acquired its own language ? meant that the flower never became the object of an artistic action.

The Social Democrats walked off with the rose, the Liberals with the meadow flower and the hippies from Christianiawith the poppy and the lotus flower. In a feminist context there was also no one who imagined that the world could give us a more beautiful place with the floragramme as a weapon. At the major feminist picture manifestation at Charlottenborg XX in 1975, it was the embroidered potholders that referred to ways for women to spend their time.

On the magazine KVINDER [WOMEN], which subsequently appeared for a num­ber of years, the female iconographies were expressed by overwhelming use of the politically previously unseen colours of pink and gold, combined with the display of our labia and a few single breasts. It was not until the 1980s and 1990s that women of that generation, such as Inge Ellegaard and Marianne Grønnow, began to deal with floral elements, while the outside world writing about art in an aesthetic context articulated the exploration taking place in their paintings.

As an introduction to a new century, then, the invitation to take part in the SUB ROSA exhibition along with Nordic female artists is well worth considering. A paradox ? Sub Rosa, a reason to reveal a real secret. An intimacy which, with a last rose petal has concealed the innocence, will now flutter away.

I am not a painter of flowers, admittedly, but if I open my drawers, endless collections burst out: Sketches, pastels, watercolours, notes, patterns, reports and strings of words. Endless collections of flower cards. Pressed leaves, form-drawn infructescence, modelled and glazed. Also skies, garden and icebergs galore.

My occupation, my secret floral desire can come into view and be exchanged, as when female settlers used to gather to run up old pieces of material into patchwork rugs, or the women of the parish to embroider altar cloths and chasubles ? and to hear the latest news.

'We let rip in the flowerbed,' is what the young women from COPYRIGHT[ii], who I share the occupation with, say ? 'that special, secret floral desire has always existed. We have always made roses, worked in cross-stitch on cushion covers. Of course, it had to be flowers. Why, precisely? We are not flower painters either. We love the oc­cupation and don't want to be another chapter in the old story.'

Sub Rosa. We give the new millennium subsoil treatment and help 1000 flowers - 23 x 23 cm ? bloom.

Kirsten Justesen 2000

1. From Tania Ørum interview with Kirsten Justesenin Paletten Konsttidsskrift, Year 60 2/2000.

2. COPYRIGHT is a group of artists who qualified from The Funen Academy of Fine Arts in 1998/2000. It comprises Tine Askov, Veronica Dahlqvist, Hanne Sofia Nissen, Helle Thorelland Birgitte Vilmand

294 flowerpictures 23 x 23 out of 1000 is dedicated Den lilleHave.

SUBROSA - et substralt blomsterarrangement

"…….. Efter tressernes eksperimenter ligger i 1970 alle kunstgreb fuldt tilgængelige. Med baggrund i de mange æstetiske aktioner kunne man bruge de kunstneriske greb til at arrangere politiske demonstrationer. At arbejde kunstnerisk med kvindekroppen eller den kvindelige erfaringsverden gav aktionerne en ekstra dimension i en politisk eller feministisk sammenhæng. Kvinderne slog sig sammen om at lave noget, som på den ene side nedbrød kunstinstitutionens status - som f.eks. når vi pakkede en kunstinstitution ind som en bryllupskage. Vi gjorde brug af andre billedkategorier, når vi f.eks. satte os som ludere i vinduet. Og på den anden side var det fantastisk at lave det sammen, en opdagelsesrejse i vores egne rum. Det spændende i den uafgrænsede situation på det tidspunkt var hele tiden at tage det næste skridt." [1]

Men der var ét skridt vi ikke tog. Blomsterne blev aldrig en del af springturen. Et eventyr heller ikke jeg ville gribes i, ikke offentligt i hvert fald. En enkelt vase, uden blomst, kunne af formelle grunde komme til syne i en stiløvelse om form, lys og skygge på en flade. Blomstermaleri med dets historie, som borgerskabs kvindernes, først og fremmest uskadelige sysselsætning og dekorationsobjekt, forekom så belastet, at det forblev et tabu, - og en overskridelse forekom at ville ende som et virkeligt kamikaze projekt. Der lå uendeligt mange andre udforskninger forude. Endnu ikke helt synlige billeder, objekter og sammenstød, der trængte sig mere på end faren ved at kaste sig over tabuer, der i virkeligheden bare bar de rene lyster. Endnu lyder akademi professorens replik i mine øren: "Lille frue….". Ham kunne man forlade, bare af sproglige grunde.

En ny erobring som f.eks. retten til blomstermaleriet, blev aldrig drøftet, blev aldrig til kunstpolitisk parole og slet ikke et feministisk kampobjekt, der kunne placeres i forlængelse at de blikretninger, der glimtvis fikseredes i horisonterne. Risikoen for bare at give en mulighed for at blive indskrevet i harmløshedens (kunst)historie, før den ”rigtige” og ukendte fortælling om vores kunstneriske udforskninger knap var begyndt - og som slet ikke havde fået sit eget sprog, gjorde, at blomsten aldrig blev objekt for en kunstnerisk aktion. 
Socialdemokraterne løb med rosen, de liberale med markblomsten og Christianianitter med valmue og lotusblomst.
En kvindepolitisk kontekst var der nu heller ingen, der forestillede sig, at verden kunne give os en smukkere plads med floragrammet som våben.
På den store feministiske billedmanifestation på Charlottenborg XXX i 1975, var det de broderede grydelapper, der henviste til måder at bruge kvindetid på.
På Bladet KVINDER, der derefter udkom en årrække, blev de kvindelige ikonografier udtrykt ved overvældende brug af de hidtil politisk usete farver pink og guld, samt ved fremvisning af vore kønslæber og enkelte enlige bryster.
Først 1980- og 90er generationens kvinder, Inge Ellegaard og Marianne Grønnow eksempelvis, har behandlet elementer fra floraen, mens den kunstskrivende omverden i en æstetisk kontekst har sprogliggjort udforskningen i deres maleri.

Som en indledning til et nyt århundrede er invitationen til at deltage i SUBROSA udstillingen sammen med nordiske kvindelige kunstnere hermed en overvejelse værd.
Et paradoks - subrosa, en anledning til at afsløre en rigtig hemmelighed.
En fortrolighed, der med et sidste rosenblad har dækket uskylden, vil nu flagre bort.
Vel er jeg ikke blomstermalerinde, men lukker jeg skufferne op vælter uendelige samlinger ud:
Skitser, pasteller, akvareller, notater, mønstre, rapporter og remser. Endeløse samlinger af blomsterkort. Pressede blade, formtegnede frugtstande, modellerede og glaserede. Også himler, have og isbjerge i lange striber.

Min sysselsætning, min hemmelige blomsterlyst kan vel folde sig ud og udveksles, som da nybyggerkvinder samledes for at rimpe gamle tøjstumper sammen til patchworktæpper eller sognets kvinder om at brodere alterduge og messehagler – og høre nyt.

Vi trykker den af i blomsterbedet, siger de unge kvinder fra COPYRIGHT[2], som jeg har drøftet sysselsætninger med:
”Den særlige hemmelig blomsterlyst, den har jo altid eksisteret. Vi har altid lavet roser, broderet korssting på pudebetræk. Det skulle naturligvis være blomster. Hvorfor egentlig lige blomster ? Vi er heller ikke blomstermalere, men vi er en del af sysselsætningen. Vi vil ikke læses ind i den gamle historie. Vi ved godt at vi er kvinder”

Subrosa - Vi er gået helt substral i det første af de nye tusind år og lader vores hemmelige lyster blomstre i ET SUBSTRALT BLOMSTERARRANGEMENT for 1000 blomsterbilleder af 23 x 23 cm.

Kirsten Justesen juli 2000

[1] Fra Tania Ørum interview med Kirsten Justeseni Paletten Konsttidsskrift, årg. 60 2/2000

[2]ÓCOPYRIGHT er en gruppe, udgået fra Det Fynske Kunstakademi 1998/2000, den består af Tine Askov, Veronica Dahlqvist, Hanne Sofie Nissen, Helle Thorellog Birgitte Vilmand




 CONTACT