Ditte Ejlerskov (DK)
Bow Down Bitches
04.10.2014 – 15.11.2014
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In her art practice as well as privately, Ditte Ejlerskov consumes mainstream libertarian commercialised sex-positive pop music. In particular, she consumes the African-American performers Rihanna, Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj - the three protagonists of the exhibition Bow Down Bitches at LARMgalleri in Copenhagen.

In a new body of work, Ejlerskov explores the potential of the often criticised mainstream pop culture feminism as an elucidating common ground between the theory and practice of feminism. The artist’s main focus is to question if the pop stars have become the embodiment of contemporary feminism for a generation that has been reluctant to claim the word.

Ejlerskov’s works suggest the importance of flexibility in order to see new solutions in feminist thought. Through different entries into the tradition of painting, the works exemplify the exotic fixation, the cults and the aesthetics surrounding the three contemporary pop icons. From minimal attitudes to experiments with cutting and weaving the canvases, Ejlerskov translates her ideas into the format of two-dimensional painting – some abstract, some representative, others somewhere in between. The abstract paintings carry reminiscences of the American Colour Field painters, but here the large fields of solid colour are in fact fragments taken from the material of the pop divas.

Ejlerskov is interested in the three African-American women's use of stereotyping when aiming at their mass audience, but she also spotlights their alternative embodiment of feminist thought. Ejlerskov's claim is that her three protagonists Rihanna, Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj are in fact deconstructing the format in which black women historically have had their sexuality on display. She is not out to critique these women's choices but rather to embrace their artistry as a contribution to a deeper understanding of contemporary mainstream feminist methods. If anything, Ejlerskov questions how academic feminism and white middle class feminism form the basis of many arguments addressing and victimising the younger performers, demanding them to not let themselves be objectified. At the centre of the exhibition is Beyoncé, who in the artist's view is both redefining the historical constructions of African-Americans and animatedly fulfilling the idea of the black woman as a survivor. Using the phrase “Bow Down Bitches” from Beyoncé's material, Ejlerskov appropriates the most anti-feminist attributes of mainstream go-getter-feminism, and the phrase becomes a request not only from Beyoncé but from the artist herself.

In her general art practice, Ejlerskov searches for new understandings and approaches popular culture's go-getter-feminism. Refuelled by Rihanna, Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj, this feminism appeals to a transnational womanhood, which is not associated with a black experience even though it has roots within an African-American context. Several paintings in the exhibition portray the women as fantastically strong and confident, and Ejlerskov's main idea is to find out if sex-positivity and display can possibly be readdressed to feminist agency without ending in a liberal sex-positive conclusion?

The exhibition is a flirtation with lyrics, images, colours and shapes taken from the blazing pop material and only in the viewer’s consumption of the aesthetics lies the critique. Ejlerskov's works suggest that pop music is never just pop music. It is culture. It matters. It shapes us and it gives us clues about the future.