Wednesday, July 21, 2010

17th Biennale of Sydney 2010

The 17th Biennale of Sydney ends next week, so CoUNTess is at work recording the gender numbers for you old faithful readers. Basically, there are 81 male artists and 45 female artists which translates to 33% women and 61% men. 5% are groups which haven't been counted in gender as this information is not available. (Aside: CoUNTess wonders do more women collaborate? Or men?)

The next graph shows the years of birth of the artists. You will notice the largest group of artists to show at the biennale are born in the 1960s. You will also notice that this age bracket of 40-50 year-old artists shows the most extreme gender imbalance. CoUNTess has noticed this trend before.

If second wave feminism was defined and most active in the 1960s and 70s, and third wave feminism is recorded as having started in the 1990s,  CoUNTess is wondering what happened to the 1980s? And we don't need Jane Tennison to tell us that this 40-50 year old batch of artists were the ones graduating art schools in the 1980s, nor that it is this group of women artists who are consistently under represented.

For further breakdown we took at look at Australian artists represented in this Biennale; Australian women artists fare reasonably well with 38% almost as many Australian male artists with 46% while groups consisted of 16%.

While the numbers are fairly close overall you can see in the second chart below that the difference can be identified as coming from - Snap! - women artists born in the 1960s.

Is this a trend CoUNTess will still be documenting in another 10 years? Do women spike at 35 and that's the best we can hope for? Or is it just this 1960s generation who have borne the brunt of this gender backlash? Are women quitting art in their 40s? What's going on?

Got a theory? Please send it to CoUNTess for discussion.