A conversation with Camille Morineau
Jan 5 2021
Jan 5 2021
AWARE co-founder Camille Morineau talks about representation, the value of women’s artwork, and fixing the historical records
About our guestCamille Morineau is the co-founder and director of AWARE (Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions), a French non-profit organisation dedicated to the creation, indexation, and distribution of information on women artists of the 20th century. With degrees from both the École normale supérieure and the Institut national du patrimoine, she has worked for twenty years in public cultural institutions in France, including ten years as curator of the contemporary collections at the Musée National d’Art Moderne where she create the exhibition elles@centrepompidou and three years at Monnaie de Paris, where she has curated exhibitions focused on illuminating and educating the public about women artists and their role in history.
“Historians work with archives. If you want to write a true history, a fair history, you have to work with the true archives”
Themes on the AWARE website
The problem with women is that these archives about them are usually lost. History has been written by men, about men”
Animated Series on the AWARE website (exerpts on the episode)
“We have a vision of art seen through the male gaze”
I am delighted to welcome Camille Morineau to the podcast to talk about her work on researching women artists, her non-profit research organization, and how women artists and others can fix the gender imbalance in the art world and in society.Making women’s history accessible
Camille first became aware of how few women artists are shown in galleries and in art shows as she was preparing for a show at the Musée National d’Art Moderne. As she was walking through the galleries and reviewing the museum’s collections, she realized that barely 10 percent of the artwork shown was from women.
In response, she proposed a show focused solely on women artists from the museum’s collections, which became a huge success. The exhibition was called elles@centrepompidou. Although it was initially scheduled to run for two months, it ultimately lasted for two years and drew 2.5 million visitors.
After the show closed, Morineau wanted to continue researching and promoting women artists, and ultimately co-founded a non-profit, Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions (AWARE) to continue her work.
Establishing historical narratives for women artists
As an organization, AWARE has two objectives—first to do the academic research needed to show how women have been pivotal in history, but also to educate the general public about women artists and their work.
“The problem with women is that the archives about them are usually lost,” she says. “History has been written by men about men and that’s from very early, centuries and centuries ago. And the fact that we don’t have any information about how women lived—what were they thinking, what were they creating, what were their day to day lives—is really affecting our vision of the world.”
To combat this, AWARE conducts research into women artists’ lives, creating biographies, presentations, and other educational materials with the results to make the information more accessible and to correct the historic record.
“There’s a lot about the world that we don’t know because we don’t have these representations done by women,” Morineau points out. “We’re trying to give some specific information to everybody… including students and young children.”
Morineau says there has been a definite shift in interest concerning women artists, their work, and the perceived value of their work. The primary reason women’s work isn’t perceived as valuable has to do with the lack of information about them.
“The more we have, we give information, the more we publish information, the more that information is shared and is multiplied, the more shows there are, the more galleries will show them, the more value they will get. And value is very important for women artists to be visible,” she says.
AWARE’s staff and volunteers engage in intense research to learn about these women, make the knowledge publically available, and balance the historical record.
“It’s a huge job, it's an enormous job really,” Morineau says. “So it’s a collective work, pretty international. But we need more and more people to help. So yes, please talk about us and join the group and join the revolution.”
AWARE needs you help, make a donation!
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