For this series celebrating women in the arts, the Artistic Director of Museo Jumex, Mexico City, shares her experience of working as a woman in museums and how it has shaped her understanding of gender in the arts.
As you were starting out in the arts, what were the possibilities for mentorship, collaboration and cross-generational engagement among women?
I have worked mostly under the supervision of women since I started working in a museum in 1994, and cross-generational engagement was definitely a constant throughout my career. I encountered female mentors (few and far between, but very important in my professional development) but also others (often they would be museum directors) who were abusive and created a very tense work environment. Perhaps this attitude of negative competitiveness was due to the fact that women of their generation may have had to fight their way to occupy positions of power in male-dominated art institutions.
What, if any, were the difficulties of embarking on a career in the arts as a woman?
Working in mostly female environments, at least in my experience working in museums, I did not perceive that it was particularly difficult for a woman to embark on a career in the arts. Nevertheless, the disproportionately fewer female artists in gallery and museum programmes was a constant reminder of other, persistent forms of gender inequality in the field, which have also shaped my understanding of gender in the arts.
What has changed today?
This situation is now changing, as the work of women artists is increasingly present in monographic surveys and group shows organized by museums. Their role in shaping the history of contemporary art is being reappraised.
What are your thoughts about #Metoo and other initiatives to call attention to sexual harassment?
I think abuse should be denounced, but always with sufficient evidence to back up claims.