Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.)

Irena Haiduk. Frauenbank Berlin

04 Mar - 01 May 2022

Yugoexport, REMASTER, Cabaret Économique, Dani Bauer, Irena Haiduk, Scott Kiernan, Dean Kissick, Laura McLean-Ferris, Daniel Merritt, Christian Schmitz, Maggie Selage Working, 2020 © Photo: the artists
Curator: Krisztina Hunya

With her long-term projects at the intersection of art, politics, and commodity culture, Irena Haiduk expands traditional models of art production. In 2015, she incorporated Yugoexport, a company that seeks to challenge and rethink economic relationships. The products she distributes, often in cooperation with art institutions – such as books, apparel, talks, or films – serve Haiduk in establishing divergent economies and anchoring forms of economic exchange based on solidarity in collective memory. Her exhibition in the n.b.k. Showroom is dedicated to the Frauenbank, founded in Berlin in 1910 and one of the first credit institutions run exclusively by and for women. Even before women were given the right to vote, the Berlin Frauenbank made it clear until its dissolution in 1916 that social emancipation could only succeed in tandem with financial independence.

“Economic infrastructure underpins all materials, labor, and products of artistic making. These infrastructures leave clear aesthetic marks. The struggle to empower, emancipate, and maintain economies for those who are deemed different, invisible, and disposable is ongoing. The explicit aggression of current political systems against multitudes, including women, female-inclined, LGBTQIA, and people of color is applied vastly through our economies. This exhibition is an occasion to remember the forgotten chapter of the German women‘s rights movement, and honor their part in economies that are to come.” (Irena Haiduk)

Haiduk’s presentation is accompanied by the podcast Das Epos der Berliner Frauenbank [The Epic of the Berlin Women’s Bank] by political scientist Gilla Dölle, whose research focuses on the financial aspects of German women’s rights movements. Her research will also serve as the starting point for a subsequent publication on the history and legacy of the Berlin Frauenbank as a pilot project. The project is supported through the sale of a limited edition of Yugoexport Work Shirts (2021) – work shirts modeled after Yugoslavian factory jackets from the 1960s and 1970s, which can be purchased through n.b.k. for a price based on the buyer’s individual income. The purchase of a shirt is tied to a contract requiring the garment to be worn only while doing work, thus raising awareness of the dwindling boundaries between work and leisure.

Irena Haiduk directs Yugoexport, an oral corporation whose founding logic is equivalence, loyalty, and familial solidarity between people and things. Initiated as a copy of the former Yugoslav apparel and weapons manufacturer Jugoeksport, Yugoexport is formally incorporated in the United States (where corporations are people), launched in Paris and headquartered in New York, Yugoexport transacts slowly, at the pace of their own economy. Their maxim, How To Surround Your Self With Things In The Right Way, is the core principle powering the production of images, books, apparel, orations, films, scenographies, and variable spaces, all designed to nourish the organ of imagination. Yugoexport and Irena Haiduk often collaborate with art institutions including: the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago (2015), Whitney Museum of American Art (2017), documenta 14 (2017), Swiss Institute (2020) and Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen, among others.