Vorbilder*innen – Feminismus in Comic und Illustration

© Helena Janečić

Vorbilder*innen – Feminismus in Comic und Illustration

16 to 19 JuneRedoutensaal

Opening Hours: 

Thu 12 p.m.–7 p.m., Fri/Sat 10 a.m.–7 p.m., Sun 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

The exhibition, originally planned for the 19th International Comic Salon 2020, has previously been shown at three different venues: at the Comicfestival München, at the Museum für Kommunikation Berlin and at the Erika-Fuchs – Haus Museum für Comic und Sprachkunst.

The exhibition was realised with the kind support of the Stadtmuseum Erlangen.

Supported by the Kulturfonds Bayern – Bereich Kunst.

How is it that comic artists of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s have achieved honours while women rarely appear in this gallery of honour? What is the impact of the fact that role models are mostly male? And: What does feminism in comics actually mean?

Feminism has become a mainstream part of society: At the latest since #metoo, this phrase has become a commonplace. Its influence is visible in changes to the law, more diverse role models and new social movements. The comic scene shows these transformations through a magnifying glass: while the vast majority of cartoonists and readers were male until the end of the 1990s, women are now present at all levels. They win important prizes, publish bestsellers, run publishing houses and dominate the audience depending on the event theme. But if you ask about influential female cartoonists, female contemporaries are usually mentioned. The decisive influence that female comic artists have had on the development of the medium from the very beginning does not always seem to be recognised.

The exhibition looks at role models and how they are installed. In eight thematic sections, 30 artists are presented who take up the theme of "Vorbilder*innen" in different ways: In "Autobiography", artists present their own lives with all their contradictions, injuries and fears. They tell success stories in which difficulties in expressing one's own identity are overcome. In the "Biography" section, artists pay attention to inspiring women of the past and make them accessible to today's readers.

The section "Girls' Clubs" explores how female artists are role models for each other by encouraging each other in groups, teams and collectives. These associations - similar to "Boys' Clubs" - also offer economic and political advantages. In "Gender Reverse", stereotypical gender roles are exposed and gender stereotypes are deconstructed, e.g. through gender reverse scenarios or through visions of the future in which women have taken over the "reigns". In "Body & Sex Positive", women artists resist shaming the female body. They draw positive body images and encourage women to feel comfortable in their own bodies. "Knowledge & History" fills gaps in knowledge about femininity or the feminist movement. Artists provide readers with tools to defend themselves against paternalism and discrimination. The section "Activists and Anarchists" shows that feminism can also be part of a political or humorous-anarchic projects. After all, feminists are not bitter man-haters. Maybe we should all just loosen up?

The comics in "Strong Female Lead" meet the old feminist demand for differentiated female characters: no eye candy, but women who are not defined by their relationship to a man.

Katharina Erben und Lilian Pithan