Katharine Cibulka (b.1975, Innsbruck, Austria) studied at the New York Film Academy (1999) and at the School of Artists Photography in Vienna (2000-01). She continued her studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna (2004-10) and received in 2010 her diploma in performance art.
Cibulka is a visual artist, film maker, and project developer for artistic and sustainable processes. She developed the project SOLANGE in 2016. The German work SOLANGE means “as long as.” The project was started to increase awareness of social injustice, gender injustice, racism, and other issues import to women. SOLANGE is a collaboration with Vivian Simburger and Tine Themel. The purpose of placing SOLANGE art in public spaces was to generate discussion and dialogue toward overcoming prejudices.
AS LONG AS THE ART MARKET IS A BOYS’ CLUB, I WILL BE A FEMINIST (2018) was installed at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. The works are placed on the façades of buildings that are under construction or renovation. The pieces are created by weaving the cross-stitch message in bright pink tulle to cover the protective net on the scaffolding. Vienna’s world-famous Academy of Fine Arts was happy to fund the project since it had made gender equality a priority. Eva Blimlinger, Head of the Academy said, “It is the only university in Europe or the United States whose staff and student body is 50 percent female.” She continued, saying Cibulka’s project “helps raise awareness for the fact that the international art market itself is still pretty much dominated by men.” The sculpture that sits in front of the statement is of Frederick Schiller, who once stated that “art is a daughter of freedom.”
Cibulka reflected on her experience as a woman artist in an interview with Artnet: “As a woman in the art world, you still have a tougher job, especially when you become a mother like me…. As a middle-aged woman, you hardly stand a chance, especially if you have a family.” In 2018 Cibulka and her team created four other SOLANGE messages, two of which are AS LONG AS A GENDER EQUALITY STAYS A NEVER-ENDING BUILDING SITE, I WILL BE A FEMINIST (Innsbruck, Austria) and AS LONG AS POWER ENTICES MEN TO MISUSE WOMEN, I WILL A FEMINIST (Landek, Austria).
AS LONG AS HE MAKES THE CASH WHILE I WORK FOR CHANGE, I WILL BE A FEMINIST (2020) is located in Tuchlauben, Golden Quarter, Vienna. On the web-site for Vienna Trip Advisor, the Golden Quarter is described as a “Luxury paradise in the heart of Vienna, Flagship stores of over 20 fine international brands.” The building under renovation sits between Louis Vuitton and Rolex.
AS LONG AS GENERATIONS CHANGE BUT OUR STRUGGLES STAY THE SAME, I WILL BE A FEMINIST (2022) (82’ X 82’) was installed on the north façade of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC, on October 28, 2022, and it will remain on view until February 26, 2023. SOLANGE was commissioned by the members of the NMWA and the Share Fund. It is Cibulka’s first work in the United States. SOLANGE messages are created from research of the local environment and community. For the NMWA message, an on-line survey was conducted asking women what was important to them. Cibulka was greatly influenced by the Dobb’s decision of the US Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, one of the considerations for the message.
Cibulka states that working on construction sites brings another set of challenges because workers at construction sites are traditionally male. “Our team of women insert ourselves into this sphere to work on equal footing with the guys. Together, we need to overcome every obstacle, a process that requires open communication, discussion, asserting ourselves, and a lot of compromise.” (NMWA website, 2022)
Throughout history, women have been responsible for spinning wool into thread, weaving thread into cloth, sewing cloth into clothes, and decorating the clothes. Cross-stitch is the oldest form of embroidery. Cibulka explains her choice of cross-stitch in in public spaces: “Playing with traditional roles and material is what makes the project so appealing to me.”
“We are a small team of women from a small country, and we have already achieved great things that we are very proud of. We have found a medium and language that speaks to a lot of people and hopefully makes them think with sensitivity, imagery, and a bit of ambiguity and wit that puts a smile on your face.” (NMWA website, 2022)
Beverly Hall Smith was a professor of art history for 40 years. Since retiring with her husband Kurt to Chestertown in 2014, she has taught art history classes at WC-ALL. She is also an artist whose work is sometimes in exhibitions at Chestertown RiverArts and she paints sets for the Garfield Center for the Arts.