Links to the World. Dara Birnbaum


The artist of fifth “Links to the World”, an exhibition series that introduces video works by internationally recognised artists, is the American author Dara Birnbaum (b 1946). The series has earlier included Vito Acconci, Martha Rosler, Leslie Thornton and John Baldessari.

Dara Birnbaum is an American video and installation artist whose oeuvre talks about stereotypes focusing on pop culture and mass media including the influence of TV on the development of ideological and aesthetic values. Her 1978–1979 video “Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman” is a characteristic example of Birnbaum’s art. In the video, that consists of sections of the 1970s American TV series “Wonder Woman”, we see the actress Lynda Carter transforming from a secretary to a super heroine accompanied by repetitive explosions. By the way, isn’t it ironic that in the series the name of the female heroine in Diana Prince? The video ends with a text that contains the sexist lyrics of the “Wonder Woman” theme by the Wonderland Disco Band.

The video “Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman” will start a dialogue with the exhibition “Among Ourselves. Woman Portraying a Woman” (13.12.2018–28.04.2019) where curator Kadri Asmer looks at the depiction of women in the works of Estonian female artists in the period 1920–1980. Birnbaum’s video will offer an international comparison and reveals a clear contradiction in the depiction of women. On the one hand, the Wonder Woman character created in the 1940s is positive: there are not many female heroines in art and literature and the appearance of a spirited female figure in popular culture who can deflect bullets with her arms is admirable. On the other hand, her extremely sexy appearance – a swimming suit, bare legs, cleavage, make-up – are mostly meant as enticing for men. The question remains: what kind of superheroes that we need in the contemporary society?

Curator: Joanna Hoffmann

Graphic design: Viktor Gurov

Exhibition team: Hanna-Liis Kont, Maria Johanna Kull, Jaanika Kuznetsova, Kristlyn Liier, Julia Polujanenkova, Peeter Talvistu, Urmo Teekivi

Thanks: Dara Birnbaum, Electronic Arts Intermix

Supported by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia.