Sunday, April 1, 2012


Descriptions of Queen Bees in early 18th century apiary works were identifying a society of amazons, acknowledging the beehive as a matriarchal organization. Later, starting with early industrialism, along with the rise of the bourgeois nuclear family and the separation of the private sphere from the public sphere, the queen bee was safely recast in the role of the queen mother.
Later on, in spite of the biological reality and apart from a few gender considerations regarding the busy social insects, the metaphor of the bee is surprisingly (or not) attached to masculinity - be it socialist cooperatives or capitalist savings banks (the latter have become commercial banks after the mass privatization of state owned savings houses). Socialism focused on the democratic organizational chart whereas capitalism went only for the connection between thrift and honey (honey is the bees’ winter reserve - hence the savings bank metaphor). In this respect, the case of Erste Foundation and their bee logo is emblematic and quite ironical because the Austrian foundation prides itself on actually owning the mother-bank.

Turning to fiction, bees were used in western movies as weapons to hijack trains. Other womanly weapons are used in the 40's film noir, this time for their alluring, dangerous beauty, threatening as killer-bees, “full of stings” - the femmes fatales. Quite in the same period “honey” becomes the Hollywood buzzword flying all around the star system. Interestingly enough, the American English word “sugar” is mostly associated with the language of black women while “honey” stands as an oxymoron for white females endowed with screen-friendly biometric beauty. Consequently, the unfair trade men and women make with bees - the exchange of sugar for honey - could be linked to the language and the racial discrimination so acute in the 50's. Not by chance this period is the peak of Hollywood melodrama with glamourous starlets crying tears of honey for the scopophilic male gaze.

What about a women’s only honey cooperative? The sound installation “Honey” inhabited the ladies toilet, while in the gallery a gender-insensitive history of the beehive metaphor was being played out. Just like in the middle ages women’s emancipation was going on in underground heretic movements, BMR enabled backdoor women’s honey-talks, which could only be heard by other women.

@Galerie U Dobrého pastýře, BKC, Brno

Opening 30.08 5:30 PM

DILIGENCE (31.08 — 12.10) explores the images of various forms of social organization as they are mirrored in the beehive, the reason for their disappearance and the possibility of their return. The exhibition introduces the human relationship towards the bee utopia or dystopia as a symptom of the social atmosphere.

Curated by: POLE (Tereza Stejskalová, Tomáš Uhnák, Václav Magid, Alexey Klyuykov, Vasil Artamonov, Pavel Sterec)