« Parisian women » take us on an ambitious historical journey, from the French Revolution to the achievement of political equality, through the struggles led by women to bring about their emancipation.
The musée Carnavalet - Histoire de Paris presents a fascinating overview of the history and the memory of those struggles, focusing on the history of feminism in Paris itself.
Key figures ranging from from Olympe de Gouges to Gisèle Halimi are represented, but a lot of space is also devoted to lesser known as well as anonymous Parisiennes: Revolutionary women citizens from 1789, 1830, 1848, Communards, suffragists, pacifists, resistance fighters, female politicians or trade unionists, feminist activists, committed artists and intellectuals, striking female workers, immigrant women’s collectives.
The exhibition is organised chronologically, beginning with demands for civil rights for women during the Revolution and closing with the law on parity in 2000. Between those two dates, all aspects of women’s emancipation are explored: the right to education, the right to work, civil and civic rights, all of which proved so difficult to achieve, but also women’s right to make decisions about their own bodies, and equal access for women to artistic and cultural creation.
The enormous variety of struggles and modes of protest in the cause of emancipation is reflected in paintings, sculptures, photographs, films, archives, posters, manuscripts and (at times unusual) militant objects. The Parisian women are presented in their myriad guises in support of innumerable causes in a capital city that has always created events, generated icons, and made avant-garde and collective struggles possible.
A catalogue written by Christine Bard, comprising original illustrations by Lisa Mandel, as well as 180 reproductions, has been published in French by Paris Musées.
Valérie Guillaume, director of the musée Carnavalet - Histoire de Paris
Christine Bard, professor of contemporary history at the University of Angers (UMR TEMOS), member of the Institut universitaire de France
Catherine Tambrun, curator in charge of the Department of Photographs and Digital Images at the musée Carnavalet - Histoire de Paris
Juliette Tanré-Szewcyzk,head curator in charge of the Department of Sculptures and Urban heritage at the musée Carnavalet - Histoire de Paris