Exhibition Travels

The second iteration of Love in a Mist took place in Bureau Europa, The Netherlands, where it stimulated local conversations and events at the intersection of reproductive/human rights, the climate crisis, design, and feminism. It was on display from 14 February to 15 August, 2021.

Love in a Mist in Bureau Europa interweaves narratives about the architecture of fertility, the space shaped by social attitudes, and the women who ensure a better future for upcoming generations. At this exhibition’s core are the heroines, the ladies on the barricades, the spatial consequences of the struggle for self-determination of the body and fertility regulation.

Women’s position and the fertility struggle can be traced in that natural world and the designed environment. History reveals barricades that have been fought over, buildings constructed especially for women, ingenious techniques and science and a changing natural world. The politics of fertility, the social subordination to a patriarchal economy, and the courage to rebel against the established order is a process that remains relevant.

Bureau Europa invited curator Malkit Shoshan (Harvard Graduate School of Architecture and Design) to present her research and exhibition project Love in a Mist. Bureau Europa’s curator Remco Beckers elaborates on the exhibition through the prism of our region’s context.

Influencing fertility The knowledge of plants and fertility was used not only for Earth but also for one’s body. We can find plants associated with reproduction in ancient documents. Love-in-a-mist is one of the plants that has given rise to myths about the power of seduction. It also has medicinal applications for contraception and abortion.

Inhibiting fertility Having control over your body is a fundamental human right. Still, the political room for manoeuvre concerning fertility is very complex. In the Netherlands, freedom of choice for women and the right to abortion remains an ongoing struggle. In practice, criminal law, the physical barriers of the clinic and the compulsory five-day contemplation period before an abortion are obstacles that hinder many women’s control over their bodies.

Accelerating fertility Fertility and reproduction are the drivers of scientific research, technology and industry. The desire to control nature and accelerate fertility has many ramifications. In the 20th century, the growth hormone DES has had disastrous record. It was called a miracle drug, but it turned out to be a nightmare because of its devastating effect on women and the natural world. However, the bio-industry and our desire for ever more and ever bigger is overwhelming nature, and the environment is degrading at an unprecedented rate.

Female agency in Limburg Five thousand years before the common era began, women along the banks of Limburg’s rivers were active in agriculture. From Roman times onwards, concrete sources show how women lived. The presence of the monasteries and beguinages can still be found in the built environment, as can traces of heroines such as Aldegonda, Elisabeth Strouven, the Sphinx ladies who organised the first major women’s strikes in the Netherlands, the Midwifery School in Heerlen and Anna Wynandts-Louis who was the first female councillor in the Netherlands. Globally and locally, the narratives of architecture and the politics of fertility converge.

Curator and spatial design Malkit Shoshan | Curator of regional context Remco Beckers | Supervision Floor van Spaendonck | Graphic design Sandra Kassenaar | Production Ilona van den Brekel | Research assistant Carolina Sepúlveda | Texts Malkit Shoshan, Remco Beckers | Translation JLC Coburn | Film Hussein Alkhayat | Marketing Yongbloed, Studio Buttons | Construction Reinier van der Meer, Fran Hoebergen, Charlotte Koenen, Stefan Vontobel

Participating activists, artists and designers Atelier van Lieshout, Desirée Dolron, FAST, Rebecca Gomperts, Bernie Krause, Zacharias Kunuk & Ian Mauro, Next Nature Network, Tabita Rezaire, Diana Whitten

With thanks to Academie Verloskunde Maastricht, Barbara Beckers, Centre Céramique, Druker Gallery, the Minis family, Municipality of Simpelveld, Harvard Graduate School of Design, IBA Parkstad, Mechteld Jansen, Annemieke Klijn, Limburgs Museum, Museum de Schat van Simpelveld, The Netherlands Association of Abortion Specialists, Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, NTR, Jet Nuij, Andrea Peeters, Regional Historical Centre Limburg, Rijksmuseum van Oudheden Leiden, Social Historical Centre Limburg, Willem Velthoven, Vtape

This exhibition is generously supported by the Municipality of Maastricht, the Province of Limburg, and the Stimulation Fund for the Creative Industry.

This exhibition is part of the Euregional project ELEMENTS 2021.

Read more: Bureau Europa