Saatchi Gallery to host its first all-female art exhibition

Champagne Life will attempt to redress the devastating gender imbalance within the exhibition of art

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The Independent Culture

London's Saatchi Gallery will host its first all-female exhibition.

Champagne Life will showcase the work of 14 emerging artists from around the world. The gallery's chief executive Nigel Hurst told the Guardian, "“We’ve always supported the work of women artists over the years, many of those have gone on to have key roles in the contemporary art world, but I think there’s still a huge amount of work to be done."

“Though women artists are far better represented in contemporary art now, in terms of the number of women artists that are having their work exhibited and shown, there remains a glass ceiling that needs to be addressed.”

Indeed, the Gallery is set to mark its 30th anniversay, so Champagne Life's launch seems an apt way for the institution to brace its future in the most positive way possible. 

Iranian-born artist Sohelia Sokhanvari's taxidermied horse brings literature's magic realism to the art world; a genre she believes has helped artists to, "create an open-ended narrative to promote or resist a totalitarian political system." The work's title Moje Sabz refers to Iran's 'Green Movement' uprising of 2009, in which violent demonstrations led to the annulment of a fraudulent election result. 

Julia Wachtel, Champagne Life (2014)

The exhibition takes its name from a featured work by Julia Wachtel. Contrasting an inverted image of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian against a poorly copied plastic figurine of Minnie Mouse, the work pairs interiority and exteriority; the shoddiness of the sculpture versus Kardashian's manipulation of the public eye to the point of "breaking the internet". Champagne Life itself is taken from Ne-Yo's song in which, "dreams and reality are one in the same", nodding to celebrity's superficial ciphers and our own poor imitations within our consumption of that culture. 

Watchel points out the art world's discrimination seems rarely direct, “but I do think in much more insidious ways things would have happened differently in my career if I was a man. Male artists are taken more seriously. While one might say it’s problematic to have a show of just women artists, because we don’t have a show advertised as exclusively male, the statistics speak for themselves.”

Indeed, while the weak cries of "double standards!" are inevitable; such criticism largely comes from an ignorance that the art world has an extensive history of hosting "all-male" exhibitions. And continue to do so; though they're simply not pointed out because society continues to accept the male artist as some kind of cultural norm. 

Currently, women make up just 30% of artists represented by galleries in New York and Los Angeles; with women running just a quarter of major US art institutions and earning a mere 71 cents for every $1 earned by men. The East London Fawcett group found that out of 134 commercial London galleries in 2013, only 31% of the artists displayed were women. 

The exhibition coincides with Miami's The Rubell Family Collection hosting No Man's Land, which celebrates the work of over 100 female artists. 

Champagne Life will open 13 January.