The second annual 4%ers exhibition is at the Athen B. Gallery in Oakland. The group show of female artists explores the origins of hysteria and the artistic expressions that have come to represent it. First conceived in San Francisco at the FFDG gallery, the show has since then changed locations to host a new set of artists with what it calls a “slightly wilder premise,” according to the gallery.
The gallery explains that the term, “hysteria,” was coined by an ancient Greek physician named Hippocrates, who used the word to explain ailments and afflictions thought exclusive to the female body. Hippocrates believed the uterus was the constitutional source of female woes, “often expressed as a restless, wandering womb, creating disorder within the body and distress in the woman experiencing it,” writes the gallery. Hysteria was understood as a nervous disorder and diagnosed on physical indicators: “gestures, motions, gaits, and non verbal utterances.” Without any legitimate grounds in medicine, the expression and mitigation of its symptoms often came in the form of artistic practices, such as painting. Although the diagnosis is no longer considered valid in formal medicine, the artists in the 4%ers show believe the concept of hysteria has impacted “the way women are supposed to act, look, and express themselves, physically, sexually, and artistically.” Now, they seek to reclaim the word through their own artistic expression.
You can see more artists and read about the show at The Creators Project.