Carla Zaccagnini: Elements of beauty. A tea set is never only a tea set.


Carla Zaccagnini: Elements of beauty. A tea set is never only a tea set.

18/04/2015 - 03/01/2016
Curator: Nick Aikens

Suffragette movement and art

Elements of Beauty is a body of research by Carla Zaccagnini (b. 1973, Buenos Aires) based upon a series of actions carried out by the WPSU (Women's Social and Political Union), the militant wing of the suffragette movement in the UK, who in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century were campaigning for the right of women to vote in public elections.

From 1913-14 members of the WPSU attacked and vandalized a series of art works and artefacts in public museums in England, most famously the Rockeby Venus by Velazquez in London’s National Gallery. Their aim was to draw attention to the suffragettes cause. In Zaccagnini’s installation, which has been adapted specifically for the Van Abbemuseum, we are presented with a series of black outlines on the wall, delineating artworks that were targeted by the WPSU. An audio piece and publication includes archival material such as newspaper reports and statistics related to the attacks as well as the artist’s own reading of these political acts of sabotage. What emerges, through the interplay of the minimalist wall installation and the engaging stories behind the attacks, is a sophisticated investigation into the nature of representation, both pictorial and political.