“After the Silence” Reception and Meaning.

A Woman admiring Pia Arke’s (1958 – 2007) works.

Photo credit: Cliodhna Hogan

Cliodhna Hogan

Birgitte Anderberg remarks the public’s reception to SMK’s latest exhibit “After the Silence” as “overwhelming”. SMK’s highly anticipated exhibit opened on the 28th of August and runs until the 21st of November. When asked for her opinion on the reception received towards the exhibit so far, Anderberg had this to say: “It’s been quite overwhelming, the press has been over the top.” Anderberg laughed with gratefulness. “What I think is actually very overwhelming is the fact a lot of young people see this show. I mean, you have this whole generation of women who were actually there …, but then the younger generation who grasp hold of the show” And she was right. While I walked around the exhibit after our interview, I noticed that although there were a lot of older visitors, there were a lot of young adults and teenagers walking around with their friends in groups, discussing the works, their themes, and how they could relate to the pieces. But not only were the visitors a mix of all ages, but of genders too. “I get emails from quite conceptual founded male artists who are in their early forty’s, who are very taken with this show which I find really, really interesting,” Anderberg mentioned.

“After the Silence” is SMK’s latest exhibit to open, showcasing over 130 pieces of art from both Danish and international female artists. The exhibit which was originally planned to open in 2020 was rescheduled for 2021 due to the  COVID-19 pandemic. “It (the pandemic and postponing of events) was good in one way because it actually made it possible for me to get some works that I couldn’t have had on loan if I had asked the year before.”

“After the Silence” commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Redstocking movement and the 1970’s struggles to achieve a more peaceful, equal, and freer world. The works exhibited in the show deal with a variety of themes and issues faced by their artists, which audiences can relate to. When discussing how the exhibits relates to everyday life, Anderberg quoted a Danish Artist whom she took inspiration from for the show saying “When women and other oppressed groups in society make art, the narration will play a large part because they have so much to tell and push forward.” Anderberg went on to say that crisis was one of the main narrations of the exhibit and a lot of the works, saying how it “relates to almost everyone.”

“After the silence” contains a diverse collection of pieces in a variety of media that show and discuss multiple themes, experiences, and issues in society dating back from the 1920s to today’s society.  For example, Hannah Ryggen (1894 – 1970) a Swedish artist who lived a secluded life with her family, created handwoven tapestries on intimately personal themes such as motherhood and major international political issues such as living in Nazi-occupied Norway. Two of her pieces on show include Mother’s Heart (1947) which discusses mother-daughter relationships, and Death of Dreams (1936), a declaration of support for the German editor Carl von Ossietzky who was imprisoned by the Nazi’s for publishing evidence of Germany’s rearmament, a violation of the Treaty of Versailles.

Mother's hHeart, Ryggen (1947)
Mother’s Heart, Ryggen (1947)
Death of Dreams, Ryggen (1936)

Nancy Spero (1926-2009), an American artist, protested the American attacked in Vietnam through an extensive project called “War Series: Bombs and Helicopters.”. Starting the series in 1966 and finishing in 1970.  Spero created posters depicting American helicopters as ferocious birds and insects flying over villages, depicting the death and destruction they brought and handed them out as flyers during protests and in the streets. She used gouache and ink for her works.

Gunships, Victims, Spero (1967)

SMK’s “After The Silence” is more than just an exhibit that showcases the struggles women have faced, but society’s struggles from both past and present. Anderberg remarks that the show will “somehow touch you at some point. … there’s a lot of strong works and also strong narration that, I mean, address a lot of different people.” It is an exhibit that exposes women from past and present thoughts, feelings, and lives. But not only that, it celebrates these women. At the end of the exhibit, I remember reading that the aim of “After the Silence” wasn’t to dampen spirits or leave people feeling pessimistic, but to rejoice and admire these pieces and their artists. From the showcases curator, artworks, and meanings brought forth, it is no wonder that the reception to SMK’s “After the Silence” was positively “overwhelming” from all age groups and genders.