This is a really thought-provoking piece. It argues that but putting on women-focused art exhibitions is giving the illusion of equality,
We need to refuse to delight in these women-only shows, which serve as continued marginalization. Despite some notable positives that come from them, women-only exhibits don’t treat women like equals. If “Women in Abstract Expressionism” is a special show, then by default Abstract Expressionism is men. (Show like this one also reinforce an erroneous and exclusionary gender binary that negates and erases gender nonconforming people.) Women are not a novelty and shouldn’t be treated as such.
Yes, the exhibits get a lot of attention and give the artists exposure. And we feel good about it. Women haven’t had any space at all! Now we have a show! And a catalog! But the attention can mislead people into thinking women now have an equal shot when we still do not.
I think that having women-focused shows can be a good thing but they have to be done alongside real efforts to improve the status and exposure of female artists. An art gallery that does a female-focused exhibition without taking the opportunity to examine the bias in their permanent displays should be criticised but those who take the opportunity and address any bias should be encouraged. They must be seen to be ‘walking the walk’ as well as ‘talking the talk’, so to speak.