London feminist performance artist has imaginary conversation with 18th-century artist

A feminist performance artist is showcasing in a London telephone box, via conversation with an 18th-century artist to highlight gender inequality.

British artist Caro Halford’s exhibition Mary Moser’s Friends on Tour features live performances at the Visionary British Museum, London’s smallest art gallery set in a telephone box.

Despite the fact that Mary Moser (1744 – 1819) was one of the two female founding Royal Academicians of the Royal Academy of Art (RA), Halford was surprised that not many people had heard of either her or Angelica Kauffman, the other female founding members of the RA.

She said: “The message of performance is about women being overlooked in history.”

In Johan Zoffany RA’s group portrait of the Academicians in the Life Room (1771-1772), male academicians are drawn in the room.

Moser and Kauffman were physically absent and were represented as a portrait hanging on the wall, showing the gender inequality prevalent during that time.

Halford said the general public knew about Sir Joshua Reynolds, whose huge statue is located outside the RA, but unfortunately there is none of Moser or Kauffman.

To raise awareness of gender inequality in art history, Halford embodied Moser in her performance in a visionary way.

She said: “I am trying to bring her back to life, rather than looking like a regular person.”

“It is also about Mary Moser being squeezed out of institutions.”

This is where the concept of performing in a telephone box provides an underlying message of Moser being confined in a relatively small space in the RA compared to other artists.

Caro embodied Mary Moser in the performance, to highlight female artists being overlooked in history.

Returning to the 21st century, the lack of representation of female artists is still an ongoing issue.

Halford hoped to reimagine female artists to break the boundaries in galleries and museums through her art.

She said: “It is hard to get shows in London, especially in my age group because I am not a young artist.”

Halford said there is a huge gender imbalance within the art gallery representation, where most of the galleries are showing more work done by male artists than female artists.

Fellow visionary artist Degard, the owner of the Visionary British Museum, said: “Caro reaches into history and brings us an incredible insight into the depths of quantum history.”

Mary Moser’s Friends on Tour is a multi-layered show combining sculpture, collage, painting, printmaking and imaginary conversation.

The setting is inspired by Mary Moser’s room in Frogmore House in Windsor.

Degard, the owner of the Visionary British Museum, hopes to develop the genre of visionary art as a recognition with the telephone box.

There will be a live performance on 2th May with drinks and snacks at the Visionary British Museum.

A closing party on will take place on 11th May, with a talk by leading feminist art historian Dr. Hannah Lyons whose research interests include British art, contemporary art and visual culture.

The exhibition ends on 25th May.

Some fun facts about the Visionary British Museum:

  1. It is a Grade II listed building that the owner purchased from an auction website for £30,000 in cash.
  2. There is a CCTV camera inside the telephone box, where a couple had a big snog a few days ago; occasionally, foxes will also visit the museum.
  3. The museum runs with the owner’s additional income and contributions from some artists.

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