Contemporary Artistic Practices and Women’s Reproductive Rights in Romania

    • Cover Venice
    • Presentation speakers
      • Mirela Tanta, Art Department, Millikin University, USA


    In a country with a history of state-controlled natality, how are present-day artists and curators responding to recent initiatives to restrict women’s reproductive rights? In order to determine this my research proposes not just a documentation of artists and art organizations concerned with gender inequalities and reproductive rights, although the visibility of such practices is critical, but also a bridge between such art practices and social and personal narratives. My interest in auto-ethnography in art history seeks to connect the personal story to the official history. Research on women’s body and reproductive rights have been at the center of many fields such as philosophy, political science, anthropology, political discourses, and medicine. However, studies in art history currently lack such auto-ethnographic perspectives. To help facilitate such dialogue in an effective way, I will intersect storytelling with official historical discourses addressing women’s reproductive rights as well as analyze the intersection of the social, political, and artistic discourses in Romania today. Between 1967-1989 more than 10,000 women died in Romania as a result of illegal abortions and approximately 9,452 died because of post-abortion complications. Some of these women were already mothers of 3 or 4 children. By 1989 Romania found itself the motherland of an entire generation of orphans, in total 125,000 institutionalized minors. Although Decree 770 (which made abortion illegal) was one of the first laws abolished after Ceausescu’s dictatorship ended in 1989, the Romanian population is still working today to overcome the devastating effects of this decree including generations of homeless orphans, lack of sexual education in schools, sexism. Today, women’s bodies and their reproductive functions have been once again at the heart of religious, social, and political debate. My paper asks if there are any attempts being made at the social, activist, or artistic level to unmark women’s bodies, that is, to regard women’s bodies outside of their reproductive functions?