Ewa Partum “Now My Idea is a Golden Idea”

Exhibitions → past
January—February 2023

The idea of an artwork created with a one-ounce gold bar with test 999,9 appeared in 1974 in the context of Ewa Partum’s performance Change (Zmiana) in Address Gallery, Łódź. Despite this daring idea not being executed at the time, the performance juxtaposed the questions of the market value of art objects and the valorization of female bodies, including female artists’ bodies in a patriarchal culture.

The invitation to the performance was a conceptual artwork with the sentence „moja aktualna idea jest złotą ideą / now my idea is a golden idea” printed in gold. During the performance 29 years old artist with a help of the make-up artist, divided her face in two: she left one part only with light make-up, while the other was distinguishably aged. That was the first feminist work by Ewa Partum, in which she stated that the female body is specifically valorized in a patriarchal culture. In this conviction, she was close to representants of second-wave feminism that had emerged in the Western context. At the same time, contextualizing the theme of representations of female bodies (including female bodies in art), she preceded a discussion concerning female bodies as commodities in capitalism. With the growth of advertising and media industries, the representations of female bodies started to be used as a tool to sell almost any imaginable product. In the context of the 1970s in Eastern Block where no actual market existed, female artists such as Partum and Sanja Ivekovič, started the discussion concerning the subject – the discussion that on the theoretical ground fully emerged only in the 1990s.

After 25 years of the 21st century, we have used to the massification of the “valuation” of bodies, mostly female bodies. Women massively “invest” in their images allowing the market of “aesthetic medicine” to grow freely. On the other hand, with upcoming waves of crisis and economic uncertainty, we like to invest in “beautiful objects”, including artworks.

Is art more precious than gold? The original value of Ewa Partum’s “golden idea” work from 1974 would have an actual value of an ounce of gold. The object of art would be here the mere object of investment able to compete with other investment tools. In 2023, our show presents a realization of the work from 1974. Its value exceeds that of gold by the value of the artwork. At the end of the day, Ewa Partum’s artworks become more valuable over time.

Ewa Partum

Born in 1945 in Grodzisk Mazowiecki, Partum is a precursor of conceptual and feminist art in Central-Eastern Europe. In the 1970s she started to make interventions with her body in public space, the author of experimental movies, photomontages, installations, photographs, and visual poetry. She studied at the Higher School of Fine Arts in Łódź and Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw which she completed with a diploma concerning poetry as visual art. The problem of verbal language leads her to conclude on the limitations of female identity and to acknowledge feminist consciousness.  She pointed out the problem of women’s discrimination and addressed the specificity of female art. Since 1983 she lives and works in Berlin. Her works can be found in the greatest collections of international art institutions such as MoMA, New York, Tate Modern, London, Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid, and many others.