Celebrating Women’s History Month: Females shaping the .ART domain zone
Only the last year the first all-woman spacewalk took place, Meghan Markle became a verb, 18th century poet Emily Dickinson protagonised an Apple TV show, and a 16-year-old Greta Thunberg became the face of a global movement for climate change. The first-ever image of a black hole was made possible by a woman scientist, Katie Bouman and the most extensive anthology of women artists went into print (Great Women Artists by Phaidon). All in all, women around the world are stepping up not to compete with men – but to demonstrate their outstanding potential on all walks of life.
.ART may not be quite like Finland just yet – a country that formed a government of five parties all led by women, but we are facilitating an environment for our ladies to thrive. With an all-female leadership team and the two co-founders Reikhan Kasimova and Ulvi Kasimov playing a balanced management game of yin and yang, we thought it would be a good idea to ask our female team-members for their opinion on the place of feminism in their life and the art world.
Reikhan Kasimova, .ART Co-Founder
Women have long proven their worth, and it should be up to them whether they want to continue doing that or not. There is wisdom in knowing when to take the lead and when to reframe your priorities – as the saying goes, “behind every great man is a great woman”.
I have two daughters and, of course, I want them to grow up with a strong spirit – capable of overcoming life’s difficulties and learning from these experiences. Medina, my elder, is an artist. She’s lucky to have the capability so many of us don’t have – of expressing her inner world through creativity. Art is her way of processing life, her refuge and her source of strength. It’s a unique combination – to be an artist and a woman. Did you know that one square cm of a woman’s skin contains more pain receptors than a man’s? That why we feel everything much more intensely. That’s our innate strength we should learn to harness.
Kate Kozlova, CEO
Kate has an advanced engineering degree with a specialization in plasma-fuelled power plants and lasers (wow!). Having begun her career at a major TV channel, she joined the team preparing the launch of .ART back in 2012 and was appointed CEO in 2017.
When I was studying at university my engineering course only had about 15% girls, so I was lucky enough to mature in a setting that strengthened my belief in success based on character and dedication rather than gender. This isn’t to say that the modern world has solved all gender-related issues.
Science tells us that there are over a hundred fundamental differences in structures of male and female brains. By no means do such discoveries fuel already existing stereotypes: men and women aren’t better or worse at certain skills, but they are more or less prone to certain behaviours.
As CEO I am certain that the success of our company is down to gender balance. This synergy is possible because we understand that the breadth of our work scope requires both traditionally male and female qualities: sober calculation and intuition, appetite for risk and thoughtfulness, informational and emotional competence.
Aleksandra Artamonovskaja, Head of Partnerships
Having worked in consulting prior to joining the art world, Aleksandra is one of .ART’s first employees – that’s quite a track record! She was recently invited on the International Selector’s Committee for The Lumen Prize for Art and Technology. In her spare time, you can catch her on the tennis court.
When I entered the arts industry, I was fortunate to work with strong female leaders: Eva Dimitriadis at Christie’s, Anna Mustonen at Workplace Gallery, gallerist Caroline Smulders, and now the talented team at .ART.
There is only so much one can teach you when it comes to navigating your career, especially in a field like the arts industry. While some may find uncertainty challenging, others see it as an opportunity to forge their own path. Identify your mentors and absorb the information about the topics that interest you – the opportunity to shine will come faster than you think.
The glorification of women sets unrealistic expectations while treating them as the weaker gender is merely reductive. Margaret Atwood puts it simply: “We are human beings”. Works of art capture concepts better than words. Barbara Kruger’s piece Your Body is a Battleground is one of them. Produced in the late ’80s for Women’s March on Washington in support of reproductive freedom, it is no less relevant today.
Anastasia Sukhanova, Head of Marketing
After trying herself in international diplomacy, Anastasia found her calling in editorial work and marketing. There might have been a 900 km pilgrimage in between, but that’s a small price to pay for inspiration. She’s currently studying for a PhD in Communications.
Even when you don’t spend a lot of time thinking about feminism because you grew up in a fairly privileged environment where the absence of such doesn’t create immediate hurdles, some stories really bring it home. During my recent visit to the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair I met an artist who had to flee Iran as a young twenty-something mother to escape an arranged marriage and an oppressive political regime where her daughter would end up in the same situation. I was also very fortunate to work for a creative business which was run by a mother of four, who became my mentor and friend. Now, entering my thirties and working along very charismatic females at .ART, I realise what a luxury it is to have all the choices in the world when it comes to writing your life. As Emily Dickinson said, “people need hard times and oppression to develop psychic muscles.” Is that a hint at women’s hidden and superior powers? Maybe.
Daria Kravchuk, Partnerships Manager and Curator
Daria is an independent curator whose recent curatorial practice focuses on projects which are conceptual, interventionist, contextual, socially engaged and locally involved. She specialises in site-specific projects based on academic and artistic research.
In our era there’s no shortage of female curators. Colleagues all around the globe are becoming museum directors and biennale curators. They are bold, charismatic and fearless mixologists of content and ideas. Nevertheless, women were excluded from the records of art history for centuries. In the last decade museums have been claiming to pay more attention to female artists, but a recent investigation by Artnet News found that it was only a facade. The numbers for artwork produced by women were as low as 11% of all museum acquisitions.
Groups like the Guerrilla Girls, a collective of women artists and art professionals, work to fight discrimination and raise awareness of the issues that women face in the art world. They do this through staging interventions and protests while wearing gorilla masks to take the focus away from their gender.
They reframe the traditional question “Why haven’t there been more great women artists in Western history?”. Instead they ask: “Why haven’t more women been considered great artists throughout Western history?”
Maria Efimova, journalist
Maria is an orientalist who speaks Arabic and Hebrew. She spent a decade working with global media, shook hands with Benjamin Netanyahu and other political leaders. She is now taking a break from it all researching arts and philosophy.
There is a range of different “feminisms”, such a disputable term should be clearly defined. Like many other «isms», feminism exists as an ideology and a political tool. It can also be radical or moderate, and it changes appearance depending on a region or country.
Technological, economic and political preconditions for the spread of feminist thought appeared only recently, and we are just at the beginning of a long way. We will surely go further, which makes one wonder – how will the world look when women are liberated from the biological burden of giving birth? I’m not sure whether it’s a utopia or a plausible reality, or whether it will bring women more happiness or pressure.
What I definitely don’t want to see is how one order of oppression is replaced by another, where males end up being limited in their rights. I hope that our future will be more about love and less about power-struggle. In my utopia, everyone has a choice, despite one’s gender.
We are also proud to be sharing the .ART digital community with thousands of women. They inspire us to harness our powers and do better – not just this month but all year round. We selected some of them to highlight below!