Change. My Problem Is a Problem of a Woman

Ewa Partum

Grodzisk Mazowiecki, Poland, 1945
  • Series: 
    Tautological Cinema
  • Date: 
  • Edition/serial number: 
  • Media description: 
    16 mm film transferred to video (Mini DV, Digital Betacam and DVD)
  • Duration: 
    8 min.
  • Colour: 
  • Sound: 
  • Category: 
    Video, Performance
  • Entry date: 
  • Register number: 

As of 1975 Ewa Partum's work takes a radical shift towards feminist discourse, only touched upon in her earlier work. The frequent use of performance art as an expressive language and as an attack on patriarchal society places her in total harmony with the work of other European and North American artists such as Valie Export, Carolee Schneemann or Hannah Wilke. Like these artists, Partum uses her naked body as a tool to destabilise collective imagery and the stereotypical forms in which women are represented. However, as pointed out by the Polish author Grzegorz Dziamski, the same expression can be interpreted differently in a communist society as opposed to a capitalist society. Nudity in a Soviet country can reach the level of naked truth, of a hidden ideology that appears clearly for all to see. An erotic symbol becomes a symbol of negation.
In this performance Ewa Partum undresses in front of an audience and has several make-up artists age half of her face and body by simulating bags and wrinkles. Her previous statement My touch is a touch of a woman, featured in the series of works entitled Tautological Cinema, becomes Change. My Problem is a Problem of a Woman (1979), showing a shift in her work from a conceptualisation of femininity to political feminism. After two hours, the artist's body becomes the work of art, the basis for a conceptual discourse on mortality and the drama that ageing is for women. Thus, Partum foresees feminist discourse on old age, disease and cosmetic surgery, developed by other artists in the decades that followed.

Lola Hinojosa