For its 15th exhibition, Guerlain has turned to the theme of women’s activism for a group exhibition in Paris titled ‘Les Militantes’, coinciding with the inaugural edition of Paris+ par Art Basel. Though wide-ranging in age, nationality, media and theme, the 21 featured artists are united by activism – sometimes radical, sometimes subtle, but consistently thought-provoking.
The show doesn’t hold back in offering a mirror to the myriad issues that now bind contemporary society. It spotlights artists, who, since the mid-20th century have fearlessly confronted the problems plaguing their times – from racial injustice to gender inequality and the very palpable climate emergency.
The show pairs the work of legendary 20th-century titans such as Niki de Saint Phalle, Louise Bourgeois, Kiki Smith and Etel Adnan with leading mid-career artists and emerging talent such as Zanele Muholi, Francesca Pasquali, Thu Van Tran, Min Zhang and Jeanne Vicerial.
‘It was important to mix well-known artists like Louise Bourgeois, Nikki Saint Phalle and Kiki Smith with young, emergent artists because Guerlain, at the beginning and in each generation since, has discovered new talent. We want to do the same.’
Among the standout works in the show are Jeanne Susplugas’ La Maison malade (1999 – 2022), installed on the lower ground floor of the boutique. A greenhouse erupts with a chaotic array of pharmaceutical packaging, a commentary on the sickness of western society, the excessive consumption of medicine, and our perpetual battle to achieve wellness.
Le Militants is running at Maison Guerlain until November 14 2022