EMMA’s main exhibition for spring 2018 titled Meret Oppenheim: Mirrors of the Mind introduces one of the few female artists of Surrealism. The artist’s unconstrained feminism was ahead of its time and in her art she drew inspiration from her subconsciousness and dreams.
Meret Oppenheim (1913–1985) has been called a pioneer of feminism: She wanted to question modern society’s gender norms and liberate women. Oppenheim did not believe in traditional gender roles, instead she considered the mind to be androgynous.
Discussing identity and sexuality became one of the pivotal themes of the artist’s production. In the exhibition objects, clothing and accessories as well as furniture are given an unexpected new life; A table gets a leg in the shape of a bird’s leg, a dress gets made from paper, a bracelet is wrapped in fur coating. Oppenheim wasn’t creating usable fashion, rather she was realising ideas of hers that often referred to sexuality and fetishism. She preferred natural materials in her outfits and jewellery. Nature was an important source of inspiration in her poetry as well.
Oppenheim reformed surrealism in the direction of conceptualism radically differentiating herself from her contemporary male surrealist artists. In comparison to the grand gestures in the art of Salvador Dali and Max Ernst, Oppenheim’s surrealism is delicate, playful and intellectual.
Oppenheim’s experimental and surprising art challenges gender roles even today. Free and independent, Oppenheim advocated gender neutrality already in the 1950s. She criticized dividing humankind into two opposing genders and called for putting aside the battle of the sexes and a re-evaluation of the feminine.
The extensive exhibition offers a rare opportunity to get to know the works of one of the most individual surrealists. The Mirrors of the Mind exhibition is a continuation of EMMA’s series presenting international modernists which has previously featured the art of Carol Rama, Victor Vasarely and Joan Mirò to name a few. The exhibition’s production partner is ARTOMA Art and Cultural Management, Hamburg.
Pilvi Kalhama, Museum Director, EMMA
Arja Miller, Chief Curator, EMMA
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Tiina Penttilä, Exhibition Curator, EMMA
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Meret Oppenheim: Mirrors of the Mind, 14.2. - 12.8.2018
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Located in Tapiola, Espoo, EMMA – Espoo Museum of Modern Art’s collection and exhibition programme profiles Finnish and international modernism, contemporary art as well as design. EMMA’s exhibition spaces – the largest in Finland – are situated in the architecturally impressive WeeGee building designed by Professor Aarno Ruusuvuori. The modern architecture adds to the experience-focused presentation of the changing exhibitions and permanent collections of EMMA, the Saastamoinen Foundation and Tapio Wirkkala Rut Bryk Foundation.