Gentle Women is one of the few Russian artist groups to systematically examine gender issues and study the whole complex of myths, ideas, and common beliefs about what women are, what people expect of them, what functions they are accorded, which responsibilities they are assigned, and what becomes of them in the end. The group’s series of performances, six of which are presented at the Triennial, show its evolution from focusing purely on gender in the video Bread and Salt (2010), (in which women in old-fashioned wedding dresses and garish, doll-like makeup salt the Baltic Sea) to contemplative, sensual, often painful performances about the female body, corporeality, the traumatic and powerful bodily experience of childbirth (or its impossibility), and the relationship of the body to other natural materials and substances. The installation includes artifacts from various performances that serve as symbols, or concentrated expressions, of the artists’ most intense experiences.
Gentle Women group was founded in 2008 by Eugenia Lapteva (b. 1987, Kaliningrad, Russia) and Alexandra Artamonova (b. 1987, Kaliningrad, Russia). They live and work in Kaliningrad. Lapteva and Artamonova studied at the PRO ARTE Institute in St. Petersburg. Group exhibitions include: Phantom Exhibition, Vasilievsky Island, St. Petersburg (2015); In the Artist’s Absence, Sever-7 Research Base, St. Petersburg (2015); Signal-2: Today’s Art, Signal Design Bureau, St. Petersburg (2014); Green Envy, Borey Gallery, St. Petersburg (2014); Busan Biennale, Busan ( 2012); Cinema: New Device, National Center for Contemporary Arts, Moscow (2012); Enclave, Ujazdów Castle Center for Contemporary Art, Warsaw (2011); and Women in Contemporary Art, City Sculpture Museum, St. Petersburg (2009).