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Dorothee Richter

Spoiler Alert: Instituting Feminism Will Not Work Without a Fight


Protest march from Kunsthaus to Rathausbrücke, Zurich, with an exhibition at OnCurating Project Space, June 2021, asking for “Reclaim cultural surplus”, more women in arts and diversity.

Protest march from Kunsthaus to Rathausbrücke, Zurich, with an exhibition at OnCurating Project Space, June 2021, asking for “Reclaim cultural surplus”, more women in arts and diversity.

Spoiler alert: Instituting Feminism will not work without a fight, without a struggle spanning years. Even the basics required for a feminist institution in major museums have in no way been implemented. With basics, I mean diversity, an equal representation of female/male artists, and an adequate representation of artists of colour and migrant backgrounds. It is surprising how little has changed in many institutions in Europe.

The new director of the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, Johan Hartle, recently proposed: “Art is unavoidably institutional, and its ontological status is contingent on the institutional condition.”[1] What he is referring to in this proposition are the different approaches to art as an institution since the ‘60s; thus in 1964, Arthur C. Danto poses the question: what makes an object a work of art? To answer this question, he creates the term “artworld” to signify a special social sphere.  He defined the artworld as a “loose network of people” who enter into a “discourse of reasons” that confers the status of art to things. In Danto’s view, a work of art as such only gains access to the artworld through an art-theoretical interpretation; for him, art is a thing whose existence depends on theories. An object is granted the status of “work of art” when it embodies meaning as a symbolic form of expression. In contrast to George Dickie,[2] who is often mentioned as the founder of the institutional theory of art, Danto emphatically emphasises that it is only the “institutionalized discourse of reasons” and not an “empowering elite” as understood by Dickie that gives an object art status. But, of course, here might be the critical moment: who is allowed to define and under which circumstances what is understood as art? This is a battleground.


Just to give one example from my own context in Zurich:

On Instagram, an Anonyma (anonymous woman), “Hulda Zwingli,” shares information and thoughts about the major museum in Zurich


On Instagram, an Anonyma (anonymous woman), “Hulda Zwingli,” shares information and thoughts about the major museum in Zurich:

Hulda is in the mood for vulgar expletives. She reads in the @tagesanzeiger the announcement of the highlights of the semi-private Kunsthaus Zürich for the opening year of the new building, where three private collections are under contract for twenty years, where the works of female artists* can be counted on one hand. @swissinfo.ch had raised figures which show a very one-sided situation, and the Tagesanzeiger also discussed the strong gender imbalance in a broad debate in which Pipilotti Rist and @tobler_andreas spoke out in favour of a quota. The new programme therefore seems like a slap in the face, with millions in public money flowing into the building. Are the most expensive institutions also the most interesting, or is this all about potency? In that case, one could just as well drive up in cars with big exhaust pipes or luxury yachts. The informed Zurich public has already seen enough of Richter and Klimt in other museums around the world. And Hodler,[3] who denied women* the ability to make art, is our national artist, according to the Kunsthaus. Hulda doesn't have to pay homage to that either, since there are already enough of his works and a few Baselitzes hanging around the building. This would bring us to the collection, where, with about 95% of the art by men, there would be a great need to catch up. But trophy hunters are obviously not interested in that. Hulda would like to know what our city president says about this at the board meetings. (swissinfo: 2008-2018, 15% female artists in solo exhibitions, Pipilotti Rist was the last in 2016, there were none in 2019, and one will be shown in 2020. Many of the artists exhibited so far are alive and kicking, so no cave painters).[4]

Hulda calls the well-known Kunsthaus semi-private because it is actually a museum run by an association, with an enormous public budget, which will now additionally include three large collections, and a large amount of the artefacts are already owned privately.

When we speak about instituting, we ask: what does an “institution” of art mean? The critical investigation of art as institution has not only occurred through artworks, as suggested by Peter Buerger in 1974 in the Theory of the Avant-Garde[5] —in his view, through Dadaism and Surrealism—but also on the level of a theoretical understanding. As John Searle asks, “What is the ontology, the mode of existence, of institutional reality?”[6] For Peter Buerger, the institution of art is characterised foremost by its relation to society, and in his view art has the status of autonomy—it is not dedicated to any direct usage and is therefore also of no consequence. Any political impetus would be falling into a void. This quasi-autonomous status (quasi insofar as there are manifold dependencies and categories which make something into art or not) also helps to whitewash shady money or the reputation of a person or company. The many protests against oil companies such as BP acting as sponsors have shown that.

Hulda Zwingli—who might represent a collective—has a lot more to say about how money and power are distributed in the Zurich art scene, in which rich collectors play a major role. This is an issue for instituting feminism insofar as most private collections will follow completely different rules in assembling artworks than a board of curators or a state-funded museum would. First of all, private collections are based on the taste of a single layperson; they are also a financial investment and should at best also generate money. Here, of course, the connection between private collections and their presentation in museums and art institutions is key.[7] Many private collections are dominated by traditional art genres, such as painting and sculpture, and—surprise, surprise—male artists. In contrast, in public collections other criteria influence collecting activity; for example, politically relevant art can be a criterion, or complicated, installation art, or also art that complements the collection holdings in a certain aspect (for example, to balance the historical neglect of female positions). There are many reasons why a collector’s museum is per se a problematic construction: a huge amount of public money is used to maintain a private property; the presentation of its works in a supposedly public museum or art institution will add value to the collection, which will increase with the presentation in a supposedly public museum; and the museum is basically also very dependent on the good will of the collector. For example, a collector's museum was founded in Bremen because this northern German city carries significant debt, so a collector's museum seemed like an acceptable solution, which, incidentally, has proved very problematic on a number of occasions, exactly because of the abovementioned reasons.

In Zurich, we have the unusual situation that this extremely wealthy city is reorganising its largest museum more and more into a collector’s museum: three new collections will be hosted, maintained, and displayed in a new part of the building—and if this as such is not enough, the public funding for visual arts is allocating 80% of its budget to this arrangement every year. Thanks to Hulda, we can also understand how cleverly the budget is distributed among subcontractors under the umbrella of the Kunsthaus.

On Instagram, an Anonyma (anonymous woman), “Hulda Zwingli,” shares information and thoughts about the major museum in Zurich


It sounds extremely odd and problematic when, in turn, the board of the Kunsthaus publicly negotiates with right-wing politicians about possible exhibitions, as has been published quite unconcernedly; see the conversation between board member Walter B. Kielholz and Mr. Blocher from the SVP (a populist right wing party).[8] The usual tasks of a museum are clearly ignored here, as if money is allowed to do everything, inside and outside a public institution; or should one ask more basically, why is an increasingly private museum financed by public funds at all? In my view, public funding should only be given if the most rudimentary diversity requirements for gender and diversity are met—on all levels of the institution. To comment on this with another post by Hulda:

Swelling fine language[9] repeatedly distracts Hulda's gaze from the reality of the figures. Today, the outdoor space at the semi-private Kunsthaus Zürich, which receives about 80% of the City of Zurich's budget for art, serves as an illustration. Seven works of art by men exist or are planned for this space, not counting the works by the art prize winner Nägeli. As a big sensation, one work by Pipilotti Rist was installed in 2021; so, according to the calculation, it makes a new 12.5%. ‘But now a woman's work has just been installed!’ Hulda can no longer hear. A work by Kader Attia has just been installed on the square, soon to be followed by a Henry Moore in the new Art Garden, and soon also a work by Olafur Eliasson in the passage, in addition to the existing monument for Ignaz Heim and the works by Auguste Rodin and Marino Marini in front of the old building. Isn't there also a tile wall by Joan Miró in the little garden? And isn't there also something in the bushes at the back of the old building? Please give us some clues! Yes, Hulda knows, Heim and half of Pipilotti Rist’s work do not fall within the competence of the 100% male management of the institution, which printed a slogan for women* to endure the historical conditions in the members' magazine, but within that of the KiöR (oops "Kunst und Bau"), which is somehow also the city. And the city has a president who has been sitting on the board of the institution for years. Hulda reads homepages, member magazines and slogans in social media carefully, for example, that women can ‘get a dose of women's power on International Women's Day at the Kunsthaus.’ Long live the city of Zurich with its equality plan![10]

What is most astonishing under the circumstances is that the largest political party governing Zurich, the SP (a mildly left-wing bourgeois party), which is also the party that nominated the mayor, Corinne Mauch, has gender equality as one of the major goals in their party programme: “The legal and actual equality of all genders is one of the most important concerns of the SP. The party is committed at all levels to self-determination, equal opportunities and against discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity.”[11] Maybe this lofty statement should be applied to how the actual departments implement their policies?

There are many rumours about one collection specifically, the Bührle collection. Obviously, this has motivated the mayor, together with the director of the cultural department of Zurich, to commission the University of Zurich to research this topic. Thus, a research group around Prof. Dr. Matthieu Leimgruber started a research project on the arms industry, capital, and the Kunsthaus. The result was a publication[12] based on a three-year research project by the University of Zurich. Nearly on the same day of its publication, the director of the cultural department handed in his resignation. The outcome of the research shows the problematic background of the collection. Here is the summary from the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper:

When the 206-million-franc Chipperfield extension opens in autumn, the Kunsthaus Zürich hopes that it will finally catapult the museum into the premier league. The visitor magnets in the new exhibition halls will be the showpieces of the “Bührle Collection”: Monet, van Gogh, Renoir, Picasso, Cézanne, Modigliani and more. But the 200 or so works of art in the Bührle permanent loan seem overshadowed by the past. There is talk of a “contaminated museum”. The collection brings a dark history of persecution, forced labour, forced sales, expropriation and war profiteering onto the museum stage.

The unease is ignited by the biography of the collector and the history of the collection. For Emil Georg Bührle (1890-1956) was not a harmless, art-obsessed cultural citizen who invested almost ten million francs in the Kunsthaus Zürich as early as the post-war period. The University of Zurich (UZH) recently published a historical study entitled Kriegsgeschäfte, Kapital und Kunsthaus. The Emil Bührle Collection in Historical Context. It makes clear that Bührle was an unscrupulous armaments industrialist who profited from Nazi rule in several ways: as an arms manufacturer, forced labour profiteer and art collector.[13]

The research makes clear that the manufacturer helped Germany quietly re-arm before the Second World War and that for many years the German army, plus any other country involved in the war, was supplied with weapons. To give an idea of the well-researched sources in the abovementioned study, I will quote here extensively:

Emil Bührle became a sergeant at the beginning of the First World War and then a lieutenant in the 2nd Squadron of the 3rd Baden Dragoon Regiment. He was deployed to the front in France, Galicia and Romania. After an accidental injury and hospitalization, he was trained on machine guns in June 1916. At the end of the war, Bührle did not enter civilian life, but remained with his unit, which joined General von Roeder's Freiwilliges Landes-Schützen-Korps.  This Freikorps was deployed in various places against demonstrations and left-wing uprisings. It is not possible to determine what Bührle's task was in detail on the basis of this regimental memorandum. However, in his 1954 lecture "Vom Werden meiner Sammlung" ("On the Making of My Collection"), Bührle explicitly mentions the "defeat of the communist uprisings." This attitude went down well with the audience in the Cold War era. The fighting against insurgents and the deployment in the riots continued until March 1919. Bührle's company was stationed in Berlin, and Bührle was a staff guard and reserve at the headquarters of General von Roeder during the operation. Due to a lack of sources, we do not know what tasks and assignments Bührle was actually entrusted with during this time. It should be noted, however, that Waldemar Pabst, who led the counterrevolutionary Kapp Putsch against the young Weimar Republic in March 1920 together with General Erich Ludendorff and who was subsequently active in right-wing extremist paramilitary organisations in Bavaria and Austria, often stayed in Switzerland. As an employee of the Defence Economics and Armaments Office of the "Third Reich," he [Pabst] was often in Switzerland. As Armaments Officer of the "Third Reich" and a confidant of the Rheinmetall-Borsig company, he maintained numerous contacts in Switzerland, especially with the Solothurn arms factory and the WO. Pabst finally settled in Switzerland in August 1943. In September 1944, the Federal Councillor Eduard von Steiger declared Pabst an undesirable person. However, Pabst found the support of influential circles within the arms industry and politics. An acquaintance of Bührle's, Eugen Bircher, division commander and leading member of the right wing of the Peasants', Tradesmen's and Citizens' Party (today: SVP), played a particularly important role. Apparently, in these circles Pabst's disreputable past was no reason to refuse him support. Pabst, who continued to be active in radical right-wing circles, remained a resident of Switzerland until 1955. His name even appears in correspondence contained in the archives of the Emil Bührle Collection Foundation: at the beginning of 1954, the Major thanked the Oerlikon industrialist for a New Year's calendar (of the WO?) and referred to the fact that he had been asked by "Geneva" (i.e. Hispano-Suiza) to establish contacts in the Federal Republic of Germany; finally, he told Bührle about artworks by a Munich gallery owner. This late and isolated correspondence is an indication of the long-standing acquaintance of Pabst and Bührle. It also underscores how the networks of covert German rearmament of the interwar period continued into the Federal Republic.”[14]

I am well aware that it is quite unusual to cite at such length, but I want to give the full texture of the original publication, and since some newspapers reported some interventions or negotiations around the report, I wanted to give you an inside look at the original research results.[15]

Thus, the basis of one major collection in Zurich lies in the military-industrial complex, founded by an ultra-rich warlord. It makes my heart ache when I think of a man who made millions and millions, who supplied weapons to Nazi Germany, which was responsible for the torture and death of millions of people, Jews, Roma, Antifascists…My heart aches when I think about Walter Benjamin, as one of many persecuted, who took his own life when he tried unsuccessfully to enter Spain…My heart aches…

This history permeates into the present. The connotation of these men's military alliance is still at play. Some of the historical meetings of the board reflect Switzerland’s military industrial complex.[16] The collection is connected with this heritage, and Hulda's rather mocking remarks reveal an inner truth: that the exclusion of women is inherent to a system in which big money, artwashing, and the military elite unite.


A heroine of the Zurich art scene is the artist Elisabeth Eberle. For years now, she has been counting the numbers of shows by male and female artists, and she confronts responsible curators and art administrators of the city with this imbalance.[17] In an interview I conducted with her, she described how she herself came across this extreme imbalance in numerous awards, scholarships, and grants rather by chance. When she brought it to the attention of the respective administrators, she was dismissively rebuked or told that such enquiries would make her unpopular and could have a negative impact on her artistic career. In the meantime, she began to show her vast archive of gender imbalance as an artwork and to initiate public debates on various platforms. On a very superficial level, the art institutions began to react to the public critique and to change slightly the tone of presentations on their websites and social media. The movement gained momentum, and more and more feminists joined. To show the breadth of those involved, Elisabeth Eberle, together with artist Ursina Roesch and cultural blogger Freya Sutter, launched a postcard campaign to the Kunsthaus, with each woman protesting the imbalance in her own way. The award-winning journalist Nina Schedlmayer,[18] who enquired at the Kunsthaus, was curtly told that yes, they had received “some” postcards. In the ensuing debate in a local newspaper, the Tagesanzeiger, a quota for female artists was demanded.[19] Eberle used the subsequent flood of letters to the editor, often with grotesque, and disgusting content, as source material for an artwork: the letters are read out by a monotonous male computer voice, revealing their ridiculous, almost tragically backward-looking attitudes. Ever so slowly, through Elisabeth's relentless exposure of obvious injustices alongside the sarcastic comments of Hulda Zwingli as a media persona via Instagram, concessions have been made by the art institutions, at least on the surface. I know this will be a long and hard battle that we will not win immediately. But it is more than a fight for numbers. As I have tried to show, it is a long-term fight against patriarchal, sometimes inhuman, backward-looking politics, which are also reflected in image politics. The concentration of white male artists and their products are more than just that, and to think about that on a more theoretical level, I will argue what an art institution is.


For Danto, contemporary art is not characterised by a self-evident tradition; in his view, artworks are constructed under the specific constrained conditions of the artworld, and here is where curating comes in: it is constructed specifically for the act of presenting. In this view, contemporary art only comes into existence by being exhibited. So, one important task of exhibiting is simply to transform objects or actions into art. In John Searle’s remarks on institutions, he first discusses the institution of economy, which is based on a construction, on institutionalized facts: a group of people have agreed to understand a package of paper as possessing a certain value. “For economics, the mode of existence of the ‘commodities’ and the mechanisms of ‘disposal’ are institutional.”[20] Or, for example, a figure in sports that is called a “touchback” only makes sense if you are familiar with the rules of the game. So, in his view, language implies a social contract from the very start.

But of course if you presuppose language, you have already presupposed institutions. It is, for example, a stunning fact about the Social Contract theorists that they take for granted that people speak a language and then ask how these people might form a social contract. But it is implicit in the theory of speech acts that, if you have a community of people talking to each other, performing speech acts, you already have a social contract. […]. Instead of presupposing language and analyzing institutions, we have to analyze the role of language in the constitution of institutions.[21]

Searle also distinguishes facts such as given objects, for example rocks, from institutional facts: “As a preliminary formulation, we can state our conclusions so far as follows:  an institutional fact is any fact that has the logical structure X counts as Y in C, where the Y term assigns a status function and (with few exceptions) the status function carries a deontology. An institution is any system of constitutive rules of the form X counts as Y in C. Once an institution becomes established, it then provides a structure within which one can create institutional facts.”[22] To establish a certain logical structure under which X (Brillo Box) counts as Y (art object) in a specific context (artworld), it also needs a shared intentionality of a specific group. To agree on a certain set of rules (via language or as language), a collective intentionality is also needed. “Collective intentionality covers not only collective intentions but also such other forms of intentionality as collective beliefs and collective desires,”[23] as he states. A social fact is different from facts that are hard facts; existing without an agreement of any sort is then any fact that involves the collective intentionality of two or more agents. Andrea Fraser made a similar argument:

Art is not art because it is signed by an artist or shown in a museum or any other ‘institutional’ site. Art is art when it exists for discourses and practices that recognize it as art, value and evaluate it as art, and consume it as art, whether as object, gesture, representation, or only idea. The institution of art is not something external to any work of art but the irreducible condition of its existence as art. No matter how public in placement, immaterial, transitory, relational, everyday, or even invisible, what is announced and perceived as art is always already institutionalized, simply because it exists within the perception of participants in the field of art as art, a perception not necessarily aesthetic but fundamentally social in its determination.[24]

In conclusion, we, as feminists, disagree on a certain set of rules of the art field. However, this also means that all of us, as participants, as part of the collective will, can also be part of a process of institutional transformation. It is clear that we do not simply want inclusion as represented by statistics, we want other forms of art.[25]

We want art that does not serve the whitewashing of the military industrial complex and the accumulation of capital, but art that propagates social change. We want socially relevant art, we want diversification at all institutional levels, not only of the artworks exhibited, but the audience, the staff, and the board. We also want a form of redistribution of wealth within art. If Angela Dimitrakaki and Nizan Shaked’s[26] analysis is correct, and competition and rivalry for the highest price are inscribed in the art system, then at the very least the profits from the great art trade must flow back to a completely different extent. They must be furthermore distributed in ways that recognise historical appropriations and exploitations. The surplus should go back to the great mass of the art scene, to the dark matter of the artists, curators, and cultural producers who never make a large income, but who are eminently important for the emergence of a lively art scene. We would like to see a redistribution of art budgets; private collections should not burden state finances, and art budgets should be allocated under conditions that take race, class, and gender into account.

Back to the spoiler alert: these transformations will not happen without a fight; to take up this fight is what instituting feminism means. And if you and your peers need some encouragement, post your issues on social media and take the book by Helen Lewis in hand, Difficult Women: A History of Feminism in 11 Fights,[27] think about what the 12th should be![28] Let’s go for it!

Dorothee Richter is Professor in Contemporary Curating at the University of Reading, UK, and head of the Postgraduate Programme in Curating, CAS/MAS Curating at the Zurich University of the Arts, Switzerland; She is director of the PhD in Practice in Curating Programme, a cooperation of the Zurich University of the Arts and the University of Reading. Richter has worked extensively as a curator: she was initiator of Curating Degree Zero Archive, Curator of Kuenstlerhaus Bremen, at which she curated different symposia on feminist issues in contemporary arts and an archive on feminist practices, Materialien/Materials; recently she directed, together with Ronald Kolb, a film on Fluxus: Flux Us Now, Fluxus Explored with a Camera. She is executive editor of OnCurating.org.

[1] Johan Hartle in an online talk for a PhD meeting at the Zurich University of the Arts,  “Art as institutional practice,” 9 September 2020.

[2] George Dickie, “The New Institutional Theory of Art,” in Proceedings of the 8th Wittgenstein Symposium 10 (1983), 57-64, reprinted in Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art: The Analytic Tradition, An Anthology, 2nd edition, eds. Peter Lamarque and Stein Haugom Olsen (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Blackwell, 2019).

[3] The artist Ferdinand Hodler might not be well-known in an English-speaking context, but he is seen as an important Swiss artist, at least in Switzerland. For example, at Fondation Beyerler, they praise him as an artist “whose paintings shaped the image and self-image of Switzerland like no other painter, was also one of the most important artists of the transition from the 19th century to modernity.” See: https://www.fondationbeyeler.ch/ausstellungen/vergangene-ausstellungen/ferdinand-hodler, last accessed 28 March 2021 (translation by the author).

[4] For the original text in German, see Hulda Zwingli Instagram account (@huldazwingli), last accessed 17 March 2021 (translation by the author).

[5] Peter Buerger, Theorie der Avantgarde (Frankfurt-am-Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1974).

[6] John R. Searle, “What is an institution?,” Journal of Institutional Economics 1, no. 1 (2005):1–22, 1.

[7] A relatively drastic example of this was provided by the collector Michael Ringier himself, when he said in an interview that his advisor and the former director of the Kunsthalle Zurich, Beatrix Ruf, had received a voluntary gift of one million francs from him out of gratitude for her advice. One can only speculate what this means in relation to the increase in value of the art he acquired, see here: Andreas Tobler, “Ringier und seine Millionenmacherin, Wie der Schweizer Verleger von einer staatlich subventionierten Lücke profitiert haben könnte,” Tagesanzeiger Sonntagszeitung, 4 December 2017, translation of the title: Ringier and his millionaire maker: How the Swiss publisher may have profited from a state-subsidised loophole, https://www.tagesanzeiger.ch/sonntagszeitung/ringier-und-seine-millionenmacherin/story/20260324

[8] See Aline Wanner and Christina Neuhaus (Interview), “Eine Hodler-Ausstellung wäre schon interessant. FDP gegen SVP, Manager gegen Unternehmer, verhinderter Hotelier gegen verhinderten Knecht: Walter Kielholz trifft Christoph Blocher” NZZ Folio (Sept. 2020) (translation by the author): “A Hodler exhibition would be interesting. FDP versus SVP, manager versus entrepreneur, frustrated hotelier versus frustrated farmhand: Walter Kielholz meets Christoph Blocher,” the interview starts with the following introduction (translation by the author): “They are considered enemies. As alpha dogs who have cultivated their mutual antipathy for decades, Walter Kielholz accused Christoph Blocher of having turned the SVP into a ‘right-wing bourgeois fighting party’. Blocher told the Weltwoche last year: ‘The NZZ is currently the mouthpiece against a self-confident Switzerland. The driving forces are to be found at the epicentre of Credit Suisse and its surroundings.’ He was referring to Kielholz. Now, the two gentlemen meet in the panelled committee room of the Neue Zürcher Zeitung for their first double interview. Christoph Blocher has come by train, Walter Kielholz on foot. They talk about the EU, the institutional agreement, their own origins, Migros and ignorant foreign managers. After more than two hours, it becomes clear that the old adversaries have more in common than they would like.” And it ends with the following paragraph: “Interviewer: Together with your wife, you were a gallery owner for a short time. Would that tempt you again?

Kielholz: No, I got bored after a year.

Blocher: Art is a point of contact between us.

Interviewer: You are an art collector, Mr Kielholz is the president of the Zürcher Kunsthausgesellschaft.

Blocher: I don't donate my paintings to the state, nor do I make a foundation.

Kielholz: By the way, the Kunsthaus is private, not state-owned. And it would be interesting to have another big Hodler exhibition.

Blocher: You can count on me for that. I'm generous when it comes to loaning works. You can find my pictures in exhibitions all over the world.

Interviewer: Mr Kielholz, do you have any regrets in life?

Kielholz: Of course I've made mistakes from time to time, I haven't assessed developments correctly. When you do something, you make mistakes. But if you don't do anything, you don't make any and yet in the end you're bitter because you always would have known better, it's just that no one was interested. When I was 20, I never dreamed I would have such an interesting life.”

[9] “Swelling” indicates the name of the person responsible for the press releases at the Kunsthaus, in German: quellend, his name is Quellenberg.

[10] Hulda Zwingli Instagram account (@huldazwingli), last accessed 17 March 2021 (translation by the author).

[11] See the brochure with the party’s platform, “Die rechtliche und tatsächliche Gleichstellung aller Geschlechter ist eines der wichtigsten Anliegen der SP. Die Partei setzt sich auf allen Ebenen für Selbstbestimmung, Chancengleichheit und gegen Diskriminierungen aufgrund des Geschlechts, der sexuellen Orientierung und/oder der Geschlechtsidentität ein.,” in Legislaturziele der SP-Fraktion 2019 bis 2023, article 17, p. 47.

[12] Historisches Seminar – Forschungsstelle für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte Lehrstuhl Prof. Dr. Matthieu Leimgruber, Erich Keller, Mattieu Leimgruber, Kriegsgeschäfte, Kapital und Kunsthaus, Die Entstehung der Sammlung Bührle im historischen Kontext, Zurich 2021, 78-79.

[13] Kito Nedo, “Museen und NS-Zeit:Verhängnisvolle Verbindungen,” Süddeutsche Zeitung, 24 February 2021, last accessed 18 March 2021, https://www.sueddeutsche.de/kultur/kunst-museen-buehrle-zuerich-raubkunst-1.5216494 (translation by the author).

[14] Erich Keller, Mattieu Leimgruber, Kriegsgeschäfte, Kapital und Kunsthaus (translation by the author).

[15] Fabian Baumgartner, Marc Tribelhorn, «Anregungen» und andere Druckversuche: Wie Forschungsarbeiten zum Waffenfabrikanten Bührle beeinflusst werden» («Suggestions" and other attempt to put pressure: How research on the arms manufacturer Bührle is influenced)  NZZ 28.Aug. 2020 https://www.nzz.ch/zuerich/waffenhaendler-buehrle-forschungsarbeiten-liefen-aus-dem-ruder-ld.1573137 (translation by the author).

[16] Sketch from the above mentioned Historisches Seminar – Forschungsstelle für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte Lehrstuhl Prof. Dr. Matthieu Leimgruber, Erich Keller, Matthieu Leimgruber, Kapital und Kunsthaus, Die Entstehung der Sammlung Bührle im historischen Kontext, 133.

The explanation below reads as follows (translation by the author): “Scheme 7 confirms findings of recent research on Swiss elites in the 20th century: Many of these men were simultaneously represented in different spheres of power and exhibit strong social cohesion. For example, while five professional officers of very high rank were present at table A, almost half of the remaining 24 guests were militia officers—an observation that would also have applied to numerous other people present that evening.

Emil Bührle did not have all the classic attributes of the ‘power elite’ (e.g. membership of or alliances with influential families, political offices and military degrees, as well as mandates in various boards of directors), which makes his extraordinary social position, which he managed to stage by occupying table A, all the more remarkable.” Bührle had to concentrate after the Second World War on the Swiss army, but, of course, he soon had other customers—for example, West Germany; for a more detailed report, see the study.

[17] Dorothee Richter, Interview with Elisabeth Eberle, in “Zurich Issue: Dark Matter, Grey Zones, Red Light and Bling Bling,” OnCurating 48 (2020), last accessed 18 March 2021, https://on-curating.org/issue-48-reader/elisabeth-eberle.html#.YFPM2h0xk34.

[18] Nina Schedlmayer, award-winning art critic, Vienna, https://artemisia.blog/2019/11/22/einseitig-maennerlastig-kaum-kuenstlerinnen-im-kunsthaus-zuerich/.

[19] See Andreas Tobler, “Eine Quote für Kunst von Frauen – subito!,” Tagesanzeiger, 23 January 2020, last accessed 18 March 2021, https://www.tagesanzeiger.ch/kultur/kunst/eine-quote-fuer-kunst-von-frauen-subito/story/10261439.

[20] Searle, “What is an institution?”

[21] Ibid.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Andrea Fraser, “From the Critique of Institutions to the Institution of Critique,” Artforum (September 2005), 281.

[25] In the meantime, a female director, Ann Demeester, was appointed, partially thanks to the pressure from different sides; Hulda Zwingli received some international acknowledgement, but, of course, what we demand is a change on many levels of the institution and a redistribution of cultural surplus.

[26] Angela Dimitrakaki and Nizan Shaked, “Feminism, Instituting, and the Politics of Recognition,” in “Instituting Feminism,” eds. Helena Reckitt and Dorothee Richter, OnCurating 52 (2021).

[27] Helen Lewis, Difficult Women, A History of Feminism in 11 Fights (London: Random House, 2020).

[28] And for my feminist co-travellers through space and time, Andrea Fraser, Westreich Wagner, and the CCA Wattis Institute, with the support of a group of co-researchers, have conducted a major investigation into museums in the US, which can be used as the groundwork: Andrea Fraser, 2016 in Museums, Money, and Politics (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, Westreich Wagner Publications, the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, 2018).

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Issue 52

Instituting Feminism


by Helena Reckitt and Dorothee Richter

by Secretariat for Ghosts, Archival Politics and Gaps (SKGAL)

Emelie Chhangur interviewed by Jennifer Fisher

by Husseina Hamza, Joyce Jacca, Tracey Jarrett, and Janna Graham

by la Sala (Alba Colomo & Lucy Lopez)

by Alex Martinis Roe and Helena Reckitt

by Romane Bernard, Sofia Cecere, Thelma Gaster, Jeanne Guillou, Barbara Lefebvre, Séraphine Le Maire, Oksana Luyssen, Rose Moreau, Jeanne Porte, Laurence Rassel, and Miska Tokarek

by Ann Sutherland Harris, Daria Khan, Rosa Martínez, Camille Morineau, Maura Reilly, and Catherine de Zegher

by Ève Chabanon, Anna Colin, and Madeleine Planeix-Crocker