Issue 155, Summer 2000
Women are, of course, a global phenomenon—something I am sure we are all, men and women, thankful for—but the notion of “woman” is hardly a universal constant. This is a truth borne out by the efforts of artist Claudia DeMonte, who for the last three years has gathered work depicting the notion of “woman” from female artists in every country of the world. DeMonte herself makes sculptures of “female fetishes”: handbags, high-heeled shoes and the like. For some time she thought these items represented easily identified stereotypes of womanhood. However, in 1997, while working in Tibet, she found that her work had no meaning for the local artisans with whom she was working; her pieces were too rooted in Western culture to have much impact elsewhere. From this experience, DeMonte set out “to see how women, in every comer of the globe, view themselves at the end of the millennium.” She solicited women artists from each of the approximately 115 countries on earth, asking them to represent “woman” on an eight-inch square of unframed fabric. Any technique or approach was welcome. In all, she collected 177 works, ranging from Malaysian abstraction, a Korean painting of a screaming child and a sewn English wall sculpture, to a Greek photograph and a Kazakstani conceptual piece. Beginning this summer in New York, the project will travel widely for at least the next two years and is now being collected for a book, Women of the World; A Global Collection of Art. What follows is a suitably diverse selection of eight images from as many countries.