What made diamonds to be seen as a symbol of love?

Marge Monko’s latest solo exhibition investigate the phenomenon of beauty, desire, luxury and fertility and its representations, by collecting imagery and slogans of the mainstream advertisement industry. The presented video-work, photographs and installations explore the relationship between publicity and cultural values of the female self.

The title of the exhibition Women of the World, Raise Your Right Hand was a slogan from the campaign by De Beers, a company selling diamonds. Released in 2003, it was addressed to independent women who could afford their own diamond ring. Being worn on the right hand, this ring is also referred to as the power ring. It symbolizes wealth and social standing that is no longer bound to another person. Ironically, the slogan that has connotations of feminism and activism, is serving unambiguous commercial purposes.

The video-work, which is entitled WOW (Women of the World) presents how the myth of diamonds as symbols of love was created with the help of product placement and advertising campaigns. It shows hand gestures well-known from popular culture, advertisements and politics, meanwhile the voice over tells the story of diamonds and their cultural history.

The Untitled Collages is a photo series of cut-outs from the negatives of female models posing with jewellery. The artist found the images on eBay, hence their exact origin and date of creation is unknown. The interesting variations of gestures create rhythm and a conversation between the images itself and the main notion of the show. Seeing that hands and their gestures are an interlacing motif of the entire exhibition.

Another set of work with the title Angel EyeHawk Eye and Demon Eye is a photo installation, which consists of vintage advertisements and LED lights. On the photos, graceful female hands are holding consumer goods – porcelain, skin oil and lingerie. In contrast the images are accompanied by different shapes of lights that are usually used in cars or motorcycles.

Touching on the questions of the superficially constructed female values, Marge Monko examines the storytelling powers of commercialism’s impacts, the impermanent matter of generated symbols and the objectification of the female hand, body and identity.

Marge Monko (1976) was born in Tallinn, Estonia, where she currently lives and works. She graduated from the Estonian Academy of Arts in 2008. She received the Henkel Art Award of 2012 and a Köler Prize nomination in 2012. She took part in Manifesta 9 in 2012 curated by Katerina Gregos. She exhibited internationally in various institutions for example she had a solo show in mumok, Vienna in 2013. Her works can be found in collections including the Estonian Art Museum, Tallinn, or the mumok, Vienna.

The exhibition is part of the Budapest Photo Festival and the Budapest Art Week ’18.


Marge Monko: Women of the World, Raise Your Right Hand

solo exhibition

Opening: 7 March 2018, Wednesday, 6 p.m.
Opening speech: Krisztina Szipőcs, art historian
On view until: 28 April 2018, from Tuesday to Friday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., on Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Address: 36 Bródy Sándor street, Budapest, 1088

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