The projects initiated by Women on Waves transcend boundaries; not only between countries but also between different professional domains such as law, medicine, seafaring, art and literature.
One important aim of Women on Waves is to create public awareness. In addition to the campaigns, visual art and new media but also fashion and film are important means. After the collaboration with AvL, WoW, together with Willem Velthoven, created a number of interactive installations and a clothing project. These installations were first shown at the Bienniale of Thessaloniki 2003. The Biennale of Thessaloniki was curated by Rosa Martinez (Spain) and Harald Szeemann (Switzerland).
The mobile clinic, A-Portable, is regarded as a key work by Atelier van Lieshout and was previously presented at the Biennale of Venice (2001) and at AvL Ville (2002) in Rotterdam.
This is the first major exhibition about Women on Waves in the Netherlands.
Exhibition opening12 juli 2003.
At the opening of the exhibition, on Saturday 12th July at 5 p.m., the A-portable was installed on a specially-built construction in front of the entrance to the Mediamatic Supermarkt. During the opening, the crew and the medical staff of Women on Waves were present.
A-Portable Atelier van Lieshout 2001. Exterior view.
A-Portable Atelier van Lieshout 2001. Interior view.
As well as the A-Portable, we are presenting 4 new installations by Willem Velthoven in collaboration with Rebecca Gomperts: Portrait Collector, Sea, I had an Abortion, Every 6 Minutes and an as-yet unnamed interactive narrative by a group of students from the Universität der Künste, Berlin.
Portrait Collector Rebecca Gomperts and Willem Velthoven 2003 - detail of installation in Thessaloniki.
Portrait Collector is a network of Internet kiosks in which people who have had an abortion can photograph themselves. The portraits are compiled on a central web-server in Amsterdam on which, over the years, a very large collection will come into being. The purpose of this network is to make it clear, in an expressive manner, that abortion occurs much more often than is imagined.
Portrait Collector Rebecca Gomperts and Willem Velthoven 2003 - installation in Amsterdam
According to the WHO, a woman has on average 1.5 abortions during her life. Annually, 55,000,000 abortions take place, of which 20,000,000 are illegal and unsafe. And every year, 80,000 women die a pointless death from complications arising from these illegal abortions. Since these figures are unknown, people think that abortion is an exceptional occurrence. Thus it remains easy to criminalise abortion and to keep it illegal in many countries. For that matter, in countries in which abortion is illegal, just as many abortions take place, on average, as in the rest of the world.
I had an Abortion Willem Velthoven 2003. .
I had an Abortion is an installation consisting of vests on wire coat-hangers which bear the text I had an abortion in all European languages. They symbolise the abundance of abortions and the shame connected with abortion, legal or illegal. In addition to these undergarments, in the autumn a line of cheerful T-shirts will be brought out, which openly present the same text. The wire coat-hanger (not the knitting needle), is the most frequently used - and very dangerous - instrument for the inducement of an improvised abortion.
I had an Abortion Rebecca Gomperts and Willem Velthoven 2003 - installation in Thessaloniki
Every 6 minutes is a simple installation that consists of the text every 6 minutes, a woman dies from an illegal abortion and a red lamp that lights up for every dying woman. After the summer, WoW will bring into use a server which, corrected to the times of day, will send out over the Internet the rhythm of deaths from illegal abortions. Every computer connected to the Internet can receive this pulse and display the rhythm. Thus there will arise a global monument to the women who meet their deaths as a consequence of the repression of their sexual autonomy.
Sea is an interactive narrative composed from shots of the sea taken during WoW’s first expedition to Ireland and the voices of Irish women asking for help and information. A poetic work which, in its simplicity, makes the need of Irish women very apparent.
About Women on Waves
Women on Waves is a non-profit organisation which sets itself the objective of promoting the human rights of the woman and of preventing unwanted pregnancies and unsafe, illegal abortions. One of the foundation’s best-known projects is the Abortion boat. Through cunning use of maritime law, just outside the 12-mile zones of countries where abortion is forbidden women can be helped with information and with actual abortions. These actions are legal according to Dutch law and according to international Maritime law, which is recognised by the countries that are visited. The ship sails under the Dutch flag, and abortions are provided by a team of Dutch medical practitioners on Dutch 'territory'. For the performance of the so-called over time treatment, a medical abortion in the first 6 weeks of pregnancy, official permission from the Minister of Health, Welfare and Sports (VWS) has been granted since 28th June 2002.
Thus, women are actively assisted and local organisations are supported and inspired in their struggle for the legalisation of abortion. You will find more information on www.womenonwaves.org . For press information about the activities of WoW, please refer to the contact addresses on this website.
About Atelier van Lieshout
AvL is the organisation around visual artist Joep van Lieshout. This organisation specialises in the creation of sculptures and installations which have in common the fact that they symbolise and give practical support to autonomy. You will find more information on www.ateliervanlieshout.com .
About Rebecca Gomperts
Rebecca Gomperts is founder and director of Women on Waves. She studied medicine at the University of Amsterdam and specialised as an abortion doctor. Subsequently she studied visual arts at the Rietveld Academy and Sailing at the Enkhuizen Zeevaartschool (Nautical College). In 2000, her first novel Zeedrift (Flotsam) was published by the Podium publishing house.
About Willem Velthoven
Willem Velthoven studied art history and visual communication in Groningen. In 1983, together with Jans Possel, he founded Mediamatic. He works as a designer, particularly with new media, and is professor of Multimediale Kunst (Multimedia Art) at the Universität der Künste, Berlin.
For more information and visual material: call Noortje Schmit, 020-3446007, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org
The exhibition is financially supported by the Ministry of OCW and Mama Cash.