This artistic research project explores monuments in the area of the lower Rhyne Valley in Vorarlberg, Austria. Three monuments were chosen from a list of 100 monuments, one from each of the main categories: religious monuments, monuments of historical events and monuments of important figures. The research explored two monumets so far: the chapel of marian apparition and the statue of Dr. Anton Schneider.


The artistic research is about the creation of FEMonumental (feminist monumental) practices. To create these I use three transmedial lines of artistic research: live performative (bodily and spatially) exploration, visual exploration (movie making, overpainting of photographs, text-based painting) and participative experiments. The first line of research focuses on the generation of knowledge through live experiments in the public space; the second line uses the documentation material from the live experiments to create visual forms of FEMonumental practices and the third line tests, with a digital guide, the developed methods with other artists.

FEMonumental Transformance is a confrontation of bodies: of the monument and the female*  body in the here and now. It is embodied and visual and changes both bodies through a poetic gesture. The female* body becomes an expression of memory, a performed commemoration and worshipping of an imaginative feminist future. The monument loses its patriarchal predominance over the definition of what is to be commemorated of and worshipped. As performative monuments, FEMonumental practices seek to respond to the need of a materialised, sensible form of history (Widrich, 2023), but use materials that follow a performative, short-lasting, ephemeral approach to reflect the fluid, living and ever-changing characteristics of public space and of history, to prevent any form of domination or hierarchy that excludes people from the public spheres.

A Transmedia Performance Art Method to transform Monuments of Patriarchy into Feminist Monumental Practices

FEMonumental Transformances in rural public space

Project Overview

Monuments =


collective memory, Expression of symbols, values and thought of a society


Buildings and/or statues that have been built to commemorate of or worship someone/something

To the documentation of the research processes with the monuments:


FEMonumental Transformance is a confrontation of two bodies: of the monument and the female body in the here and now. It changes both bodies through a poetic gesture.

learn more about the theoretical concept

FEMonumental = feminist monumental, fem-tastic, feminist (intersectional, queer) and concerns monumental practices beyond patriarchal thought

Transformance = transformative transmedia performance

FEMonumental Transformance in rural Public Space.


I use this theoretical reflection to describe the theoretical background of my concept of FEMonumental Transformance, which evolved through my artistic research, as an answer to my question on how to transform monuments of patriarchy through transmedia performance art methods. The theoretical conceptualisation highlights the social and political relevance of my developed artistic method of FEMonumental Transformance and contextualises the generated knowledge of my research.


 FEMonumental Transformance is an artistic method to transform patriarchal monuments through transmedia performance art into FEMonumental (feminist monumental) practices. It is a confrontation of bodies: of the monument and the female*[1] body in the here and now. It is embodied and visual and changes both bodies through a poetic gesture. The female* body becomes an expression of memory, a performed commemoration and worshipping of an imaginative feminist future. The monument loses its patriarchal predominance over the definition of what is to be commemorated of and worshipped. Through the feminist approach, FEMonumental practices are not just forms of public commemoration and worshipping, but at the same time imagine an anti-racist, anti-homophobic, anti-capitalist feminist future. They detect, disrupt and transform the patriarchal structures, which are still present. As performative monuments, they seek to respond to the need of a materialised, sensible form of history (Widrich, 2023), but use materials that follow a performative, short-lasting, ephemeral approach to reflect the fluid, living and ever-changing characteristics of public space and of history, to prevent any form of domination or hierarchy that excludes people from the public spheres.


In the first part I elaborate on the term ‘FEMonumental’, merging feminist theory with theoretical approaches towards monuments and public space. In the second part, I explore the term ‘Transformance’ through the terms it is built of – transformation, transmedia and performance, elaborating on the artistic theory behind my concept.



With my artistic research project, I want to bring a feminist position to the contemporary discourse about monumental practices, that questions the patriarchal structures represented and reproduced by existing monuments and transforms them into feminist monumental = FEMonumental practices. I will first explain why I consider monuments as patriarchal and continue with a review of feminist approaches to public space. From there I illustrate my concept of FEMonumental practices, merging feminist approaches with performative monumental practices.


Monuments of Patriarchy

In this section, I explain the active role of monuments in recreating social order through their communicative function and the concept of patriarchy as a social order that they recreate.


I work with monuments because they ‘are not just admirable virtuous works of art and architecture, but they have an active social role in creating and communicating messages of public space and collective memory as well’ (Kulisic & Tudman 2009, p.130). Kulisic and Tudman state that the ‘collective memory in monuments is an integral part of social order’ (ibid. p.131), as they are created by the people in power, in favour of upholding that power. Through their materialised form of communication, monuments ‘reconstruct the past in such a way that they are taking part in the present and the future.’ (ibid. p. 132). This means that they embody, communicate and reproduce patriarchal conceptions within a patriarchal society:


Our conceptions of reality, knowledge, truth, politics, ethics, and aesthetics are all effects of sexually specific – and thus far in our history, usually male – bodies, and are all thus implicated in the power structures which feminists have described as patriarchal, the structures which govern relations between the sexes. (Grosz 1994, ix)


Thus, monuments influence and recreate public space through constantly communicating patriarchal power structures. They are a form of power set in public space, which communicates through gendered symbolism (Pejic, 2015). Pejic explains, how in Soviet countries the female* statues never depicted a real person, but only symbolised the ‘good woman’. In Europe, after the French revolution, a gender turn happened in public space when all allegories of the nation were symbolised through female* figures, the ‘mothers of nation’ like Pallas Athene, Justicia and the Statue of Liberty. Female* figures in public space are mainly symbols, while men and even horses are depicted as real personalities with names (Pejic, 2015). This is because, like Silke Wenk puts it: ‘only the images of women* – who remained outside (economic and state) competition – were appropriate to embody the imagined community’s interest.’ (Wenk cited in Pejic, 2015). In today’s democracies, women* are inside economic and state competition, but they are still not represented in public space as actors of the democracy. Monuments represent outdated power structures and need to be reconsidered to meet the needs of today’s democracies and societies, as Parkinson (2009) writes in his analysis of representations in public spaces of democracies. Presently there lies a paradox within democratic public spaces for women* and other marginalised groups, who are allowed to vote and to be elected for a political office, but who are also discouraged to do so through non-representation of ‘people like them’ in dignified representative public spaces (among other discouraging tactics) (Parkinson, 2009). This non-representation has its roots in the patriarchy.


As an entrance point to the patriarchal concept, I cite Virginia Woolf describing patriarchy through the source of power of a patriarch: ‘Hence the enormous importance to a patriarch who has to conquer, who has to rule, of feeling that great numbers of people, half the human race indeed, are by nature inferior to himself. It must indeed be one of the chief sources of his power’ (Woolf, 2021/1929, p. 30). In Patriarchy, domination and power are rooted in the subordination of everything female* under the male. It is a form of social control and hierarchy, in which we live in since about 4000 years (Lerner, 1986). As Lerner (ibid.) describes it, men AND women* co-created patriarchy in a 2500 year-long process. The creation process started with the division of tasks between the sexes, which continued to divide all aspects of life and thought into this binary. This division was more and more used for the domination of the male over the female*, mainly to control the reproductive abilities of women*. The male monopoly transformed all symbols of female* power to the advantage of men. The male was defined as the norm, as the whole, as the proactive and powerful. The female* was defined as dependent, deviant, unfinished, mutilated and lacking autonomy. This system was already established before the age of the Greek philosophers and the creation of the bible. Men explained everything with them in the centre, which means that all of our western thought is built on a huge error, which leaves out more than half of human experience. The female* experience is not homogeneous, it is characterised by oppression under the male, but additionally many women* experience several forms of oppression, due to their race, class or sexuality. For women* of a discriminated group, the subordination due to their gender adds on to that, letting them experience male oppression in various forms from males from different groups (ibid.). Our capitalist society was built up on patriarchal thought and symbol system and, as Arruzza, Bhattacharya and Fraser (2019) point out, it hardened the female* subordination through separating reproductive work/human-making from production/profit-making, subordinating the first under the second and ascribing it to the female* realm. What we call ‘modernity’ made the situation for women* worse.


Lerner highlights that all this affects the psychology of women* and men. We lack the ability to imagine alternatives to our current situation, if we have no symbolic system for that and no role models. Even if we have today the historic conditions for the emancipation of women*, we miss a women* history, from which to define our potential. We need to create women* history and a new symbol and meaning system, with women* in the centre. This is necessary for women* to gain back the trust in their own experiences and knowledge (Lerner, 1986).


Lerner’s analysis of the creation of patriarchy means that monuments are by definition patriarchal, because they are result of patriarchal thought and symbolism. This implies further that the symbolism of monuments recreates and triggers the patriarchal structures of our psyche and thought. They are part of the patriarchal indoctrination. A monument is (in most cases) elevated, or has an elevating aspect (like the altar in a church), putting its symbolic and literal meaning above the ‘ordinary’ people. If the symbolisms, metaphors and thought used are patriarchal, the monument itself subordinates women* and other marginalised groups, whose subordination was defined following the differentiation of the two sexes. Marginalised groups are all those who do not fit into the patriarchal norm of the able-bodied white heterosexual man of the upper class. The goal of FEMonumental Transformance is to create feminist tools for the creation of representations of diverse female* experiences, to create FEMonuments of female* history with new symbols and ways of thinking.


Feminist Approach to Public Space

Women* experience public spaces often as ‘paradoxical spaces’, as Rose (1993) states. Rose (1993) argues that female* experiences of public space differ from male experiences, and are as diverse as women* are, with multiple forms of discrimination and marginalisation overlapping (racism, classism, ableism, sexism …). Rose’s theory of ‘paradoxical space’ deals with the contradictions in female* experiences, like being trapped and excluded at the same time from hegemonic masculinist spaces. ‘Paradoxical space’ helps to understand overlapping and contradictory identities, which collide in and with public space. Feminist approaches dealing with ‘Paradoxical Space’ can be seen in the works of feminist performance artists from the 70ies like VALIE EXPORT, Yoko Ono, Ana Mendieta and Marina Abramovic and in the writings of Audre Lorde. They use their bodies as tools to reveal the inscribed patriarchal rules within them since as ‘[h]uman subjects [they] never simply have a body; rather, the body is always necessarily the object and subject of attitudes and judgments. It is psychically invested, never a matter of indifference’ (Grosz 1994, p. 81). For me it is essential, to reflect on ‘the body’ that investigates in a FEMonumental Transformance, to access the paradoxes in its specific experience of public space. If I perform in FEMonumental Transformance with my white, European, female, heterosexual, abled body, this produces a specific experience, where oppressions and privileges overlap in the same space (Peake, 1993).


Another paradox arises for the female* body in public space through the patriarchal idea of its belonging to the ‘private sphere’. This makes it essential to address patriarchal structures in public space, because the division of ‘private’ and ‘public sphere’ (term coined by Habermas) is closely linked to the gender binaries. Women* AND their subordination are associated with the private sphere, which makes it an individual problem: ‘Women’s submission is complex: it happens on the individual level while being influenced by social structure. It is often a submission to a particular man, but it is primarily a submission to a set of social norms’ (Garcia, 2021, p. 204). To bring feminist topics to the public sphere, helps to shift the understanding of what is private and what is public in collective thought (Fraser, 1992), to make women* and their experiences part of collective memory and public space. Through this, women* become active participants in the public discourse and gain confidence to co-create a society beyond patriarchy. Sara Ahmed puts it like this:


To build feminist dwellings, we need to dismantle what has already been assembled; we need to ask what it is we are against, what it is we are for, knowing full well that this we is not a foundation but what we are working toward. By working out what we are for, we are working out that we, that hopeful signifier of a feminist collectivity. (Ahmed, 2017, 2)


For me the feminist collectivity needs to orient itself on a ‘feminism for the 99%’ (Arruzza et al, 2022) that is intersectional, anti-capitalist, queer and ecological. To overcome the various crises of our time, we need a completely new social order, beyond capitalism, patriarchy and borders (Arruzza et al, 2022). FEMonumental Transformance aims to bring this feminist approach into public space, to make paradoxical female* experiences visible and part of the public sphere.



Creating FEMonumenal Practices


The works in public space from the feminist performance artists from the 70ies can be seen as the beginning of feminist monumental practices. Mechtild Widrich (2014) calls them ‘performative monuments’. She states that monumental practices between the second world war and 1989 in central Europe became performative and participative, they were ‘counter monuments’ against the classical post-war monuments. Widrich writes that ‘Performance, the supposed antipode to the monument in its temporality and embodiment, in fact held the key to its revival as ‘democratic’ community-builder’ (Widrich, 2014, p.4). I see my FEMonumental practices in the tradition of performative monuments. FEMonumental Practices, as results of artistic transformation processes of existing patriarchal monuments, are concerned with finding feminist ways of commemoration and worshipping in public space, adequate to the feminist and democratic society that I wish for. I think it is essential, that WOMEN* are the ones who create FEMonumental Practices, because as Elizabeth Grosz puts it:


Women’s contributions have never been acknowledged or represented in the terms chosen by women themselves. In other words, there are other ways of undertaking cultural activity and intellectual endeavour than those developed thus far. A completely different set of perspectives – this time based on women’s specificities, experiences, positions, rather than on those of men, who hide themselves and their specificities under the banner of some universal humanity – is possible and needs to be explored. (Grosz 1994, xi)


To question male dominance and instead put women* to the centre of thought is the first layer. The next one is to make that feminist approach intersectional, queer, anti-capitalist and ecological. We need to acknowledge, include and celebrate the diverse female* experiences and overlapping forms of discrimination that they experience in our racist, sexist, heteronormative, ableistic and classist society. All forms of discrimination are rooted in the first translation of a division of characteristics into a form of domination, which was the division into two sexes (Lerner, 1986). We need these characteristics to detect and acknowledge the discrimination, but the goal is to break out of that thought- and symbol system.


Merging together feminist and performative monumental approaches, FEMonumental Transformance is a method that transforms existing monuments into a contemporary intersectional anti-capitalistic feminist practice of commemoration and representation in public space. FEMonumental practices question not only the monumental practice itself, but especially the underlying patriarchal structures within those practices, public space, society, collective memory and our individual minds. With a ‘feminism for the 99%’ (Arruzza et al, 2022) as their theoretical base, FEMonumental practices consider the overlapping crises of our time and aim to recreate a society beyond capitalism, ecological exploitation, all forms of subordination and human exploitation.






While ‘FEMonumental’ describes the theoretical field, context and approach of my project, ‘Transformance’ stands for its artistic approach. The term stands for transformative transmedia performance. In this section, I discuss the three merged terms and their relevance for my concept.




The aim of FEMonumental Transformance is to transform existing monuments and their patriarchal structures through transmedia performance art. The performative part of Transformance orients itself at a protocol, following the stages of entrance, deconstruction, liminal stage (transformation) and creation of the new FEMonumental practices. The Transformance is similar to a ‘ritual of passage’ (Van Gennep, Turner), especially to its liminal stage:


During the liminal phase, the work of rites of passage takes place. At this time, in specially marked spaces, transitions and transformations occur. The liminal phase fascinated Turner because he recognized in it a possibility for ritual to be creative, to make new situations, identities, and social realities. (Schechner, 2013/2002, p.66)


Transformance uses the marked space and other ritual aspects to create a framework for the transformation of social aspects (in this case the patriarchal structures of public monuments). The transformation process doesn’t end with the performance; through the transmediality further aspects and layers are transformed through the exploration of the documentation material of the performance (via video making, writing and overpainting of photographs).





The prefix ‘trans-‘ means across, beyond or changing in form or position  (The Britannica Dictionary, 2023), which means that ‘transmedia’ stands for across, through and/or beyond various media. In my artistic context, these media are painting, drawing, performance, video making, sound making, installations and writing. In the transmedia art process, I move through these artistic media to explore the topic from different perspectives, with different senses, different materiality and embodied ways of thinking.The processual is central, as Marzliak puts it:


Transmedia artwork breaks with the standard languages of art circuits and is thrown out of a territorialization that wants to centralize, name, categorize: there is in these devices, always in process, the construction of thought and the transformation of existence into corporeality within the collective. (Marzliak, 2019, p.69)


This means that transmedia art as art that is not restricted by a single art discipline, when used as a research method, creates knowledge through moving and changing across and beyond media. It is closely connected to the concept of transdisciplinarity (Gibbs & Beavies, 2020), which transcends the separated disciplines to create knowledge beyond the sum of disciplinary knowledge (which would be multi-disciplinary) and beyond the connection and combination of disciplines (inter-disciplinary). As Kate Maguire puts it in an interview:


Transdisciplinary knowledge is in flux which fits so well into complexity, in notions of complexity and interconnectedness not being about pinning things down, it is about constant movement, and that constant movement is in itself a knowledge, it’s a constant emergent knowledge […]. (Maguire cited in Gibbs & Beavies, 2020: 39)


The constant movement of transdisciplinarity, and as I argue also in transmediality, is very useful for artistic research that deals with complex matters such as patriarchal structures and public space. For my research, this means that I use various media to reveal layer by layer the complex interconnections of public patriarchal structures (material, symbolical and social) and individual mental structures. Additionally, different audiences are created through the different temporalities of live performance and visual explorations of the material. This is similar to performance art, where the documentation of the performance becomes an artwork itself creating a temporally extended audience of the performance (Widrich, 2014).





If transmedia art entails performance, then why highlighting it as a term? Performance as part of Transformance highlights the performativity of it, because it ‘takes place as action, interaction, and relation’ (Schechner, 2013/2002, p.30). Performance refers to the ritual-like transformative action in the here and now, following the mothers of feminist performance art. VALIE EXPORT, Marian Abramovic and Yoko Ono made performance pieces that questioned the patriarchal power structures within public space, like EXPORT’s ‘touch cinema’ and Ono’s ‘Cut Piece’ (Herzog, 2015). Performance highlights this crucial part of the Transformance within the transmedia art process where the two bodies, the one of the performer and the monumental body relate and communicate. To use performance art to enquire monuments and create feminist practices makes sense, because, as Widrich puts it: ‘What these works [monuments and performance art] have in common that is of interest to me is their performative force, the fact that through conventional gestures they effect changes in social reality’ (Widrich, 2014, p.9). Monuments and performance art in public space share a lot. Widrich (2014) highlights that they both build upon the principle that symbolic acts have social consequences. Both work through bodily/material presence in public space, documentation and historical discourse (ibid.).


Transformance combines the transformative force of ritual-like structure, bodily presence of performance and the constant movement of transmediality to detect and transform complex structures (of patriarchy) and practices (of commemoration in public space).



FEMonumental Transformance merges contemporary monumental concerns with feminism to transform patriarchal monuments with transmedia performance art into FEMonumental practices. The goal are feminist practices that question sexist, racist, classist, ableistic, homophobic and capitalist thought and symbolism and propose alternatives that serve a ‘feminism for the 99%’ (Arruzza et al, 2022/2019). To get there, we need to deconstruct the patriarchal binaries, thought and symbol systems. The aim is to create feminist ways of thinking, feminist tools for commemoration and representation in public space, like Sara Ahmed calls them: ‘We might need feminist tools to make feminist tools. We can become tools; we can become bricks, feminist bricks’ (Ahmed, 2017 p. 242). Through learning about FEMonumental Transformance, the seed to become a feminist tool to create feminist tools has been planted in your brain, dear reader.




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[1] I use the * after the terms female*, woman* and women* to refer to all people with another gender than male or female, like transsexual, non-binary and intersexual people, whose identities and characteristics are also subordinated under the masculinist hegemony.

monuments and patriarchy: feminist geography (Bondi & Davidson, Gillian Rose, Doreen Massey), Bojana Pejic


Patriarchy =


is a form of social control and hierarchy co-created by humanity in a 2500 year long process, division into sexes is used as a form of domination of the male over the female since 4000 years (see: Lerner)

CAN BE Co-transformed by humanity!


gender roles, gendered charecteristics and attributes, gendered symbolism

Performance Art and Monuments

(Mechthild Widrich)

public space as socially and politically constructed space, space of power hierarchies, patriarchical structured, gendered space



conceptual overview

Rural Public Space


FEMonumental Practices

transmedia Performance Art

To the documentation of the Performing Public Space Master Graduation Exhibition in Tilburg:

Research Questions

Patriarchal structures


inscribed as mental patterns


spatial & material


performance art: Marian Abramovic, Ana Mendieta, Valie Export

Body as a representation of history and of social structures

New Materialism: Elizabetz Grosz, Donna Haraway

patriarchal structures: Gerda Lerner, Manon Garcia, Virginia Woolf, Judith Butler, Simone de Beauvoir, Gina Rippon

intersectional feminism: bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Sara Ahmed

Line 1: Performative Exploration


The performative, bodily and spatial exploration of my work, explores the specific patriarchal structures of public monuments and how my body and mind are positioned towards them. This line of research consists of three live performative experiments taking place in situ with the monuments:


Photos by Nina Lyne Gangl

excerpt form the documentation video

The performative FEMonument is a 40-minute live performance with invited audience and unintended audience (by-passers) at the monument in public space. It is the last experiment with the monument, happening after the Visual Explorations. The gained knowledge and ideas from the Exploration Experiment, the Transformance Experiment and the Visual Explorations are merged into a performance, based on a script with five parts. Each part is a performative translation of results or practices of the artistic experiments and theoretical research, joining the different layers of investigation and creation into a dialogue between the monument and the performer. In this dialogue, the monument represents its patriarchal structures through its physicality and through a male sounding voice, played on a loudspeaker. The performer plays the Transformer, who represents female experience and feminist thought. The aim of this experiment is to find performative forms to share the findings of my research.




The first part of the performance provides the audience with historical context about the monument, with basic information about the concept of patriarchy and with the results of the Test for patriarchal structures with the monument (from the Exploration Experiment). This happens through the playback of a monologue by the monument, which ‘mansplains’[1] itself to the audience and the performer. The text of the statue is pre-recorded by the performer and edited to sound male. Through the editing, the voice sounds artificial and more like the imagined voice of a statue. The monologue of the statue is used as soundtrack for the bodily exploration of the monument through the Transformer in the pink transformer suit (from the Transformance Experiment), combining the practices from the Exploration Experiment (bodily exploration) and from the Deconstruction Phase of the Transformance Experiment (results of the Test for Patriarchal Structures as audio playback to react to them).




The second and the third part of the performance provide feminist context and the FEMonumental ideas that came up during the Transformance Experiment (and which have been advanced through the Movie Making and Overpaintings) as specific ideas to counter the patriarchal structures of the monument. The Transformer talks in the second part to the monument and to the audience, sharing female experience with the monument and the FEMonumental ideas to transform those experiences.

The full-length documentation video can be watched here:




In the third part, one of the FEMonumental ideas is put into practice, making it a FEMonumental Practice. In this case, I chose ‘fluffy softness’ as a reaction to the hard and rough material of the statue, inspired by the soft looking coat of the statue and as feminist counter action to the patriarchal expectation to be brave, strong, dominating and ready to use violence represented by this statue. The audio collage from the ‘fluffy softness’ Movie (from the Visual Exploration) was reworked and used as soundtrack to the performative installation of big soft fluffy cushion-like objects on the pedestal. The soft fluffy objects were created to be touchable (by audience members), to be movable and wearable (by the monument, by the performer and by audience members) as a performative practice of worshipping, countering the static, hard, inaccessible and unapproachable monument.




In the fourth part, the male voice of the statue is talking again, this time giving a voice to the patriarchal criticism towards the fluffy softness, based on the text-based paintings. The aim of this part is to mirror the potential reactions in our patriarchal-shaped minds and to unmask them as voices of the patriarchy. Dramaturgically, the critique and attack by the statue’s voice builds up tension between the monument and the Transformer, who reacts with putting on more soft and fluffy objects and with cuddling attacks.



The last part is a feminist conclusion, highlighting the necessity and importance of the FEMonumental practice by the Transformer and through hanging a new FEMonumental statement over the inscription on the pedestal. In the end, the audience is invited to touch, wear and cuddle with the fluffy soft objects, as the tactile sensations of this FEMonumental practice are essential for the experience.

[1]‚mansplaining‘: definition by the Cambridge Dictionary: ‘the act of explaining something to someone in a way that suggests that they are stupid; used especially when a man explains something to a woman that she already understands’ (Cambridge Dictionary, 2023)


c) Performative FEMonument

Go to the Documentation of the Performative FEMonument of the Statue

b) Transformance Experiment - FEMonumental Transformance

The Exploration Experiment is a 45-minute encounter that I have alone with the monument. I explore the monument with my body and senses and record my answers to the Test for Patriarchal Structures. The Test for Patriarchal Structures was created after the first Exploration Experiment, tested several times (also with participants of a participative workshop) and reworked to be more precise in exposing patriarchal binaries and hierarchies in the depictions, inscriptions, symbols and narrations of the monument. It is mainly inspired by theories from Ursula Seghezzi (2012) and Gerda Lerner (1986). The latest version of the Test starts with questions about the topic of the monument, going more and more into detail about the represented characteristics and their connections with gender and hierarchies, revealing power structures in the symbolism, history and narrations of the specific monument. All versions of the Test are available here:


The results of the Test for Patriarchal Structures are rephrased into patriarchal statements, which build the basis for the design of the protocol for the Transformance. I create an audio collage out of those specific patriarchal statements of this specific monument, which serves as soundtrack for the deconstruction phase of the Transformance.

from here, I continue with the VISUAL EXPLORATION and from there design the Performative FEMonument

found patriarchal structures are used to create a TRANSFORMANCE protocol

The Transformance as a process of transformation orients itself towards a ritual structure. It has five phases:


-      1) preparation phase (measuring, marking and cleaning of the Transformance space)


-     2)   entrance phase (putting on of costume, colouring of hands and face, recitation of the prayer for love)


-    3)   deconstruction phase (deconstruction of patriarchal statements)


-    4)   liminal phase of the transformation (experimentation and creation of FEMonumental ideas[1])


-   5)    exit phase (recitation of the prayer of love and exiting the Transformance space).




This structural choice is based on the theory of rites of passage (Schechner, 2013) to make the transition from one state into another comprehensible. This has additionally an aesthetical influence, for example through the application of purple colour on face and hands of the performer, which gives a kind of ‘witchy’ appearance.




The femonumental Transformance takes place some weeks after the exploration experiment. I bring with me 2 video cameras, 1 photo camera, a tripod, audio recorder, costume, paint, brushes, oil pastels, a knife, some strings, canvas cloth, paper, notebook, pen, tape, the Transformance protocol, the audio collage of patriarchal statements with a loudspeaker and 1 assistant. The Transformance starts with the preparation (setting the stage) of the Transformance space. I put on my costume, the pink transformer suit and start with warming up of my body, moving through the space and ‘greeting’ the monument (exploring it with my body).




The pink transformer suit serves my needs well, because its colour is well visible and has a female connotation in our society, associated with little girls and Barbie dolls, but the form of the suit, especially in combination with the black boots has something of a fighting suit. The paradoxical appearance and the practicality of the suit (which is a training suit, made to move in it) make me feel like a powerful feminist activist. In the first Transformance, I had a costume of second-hand clothes, a grey dress and a cardigan, which I chose to connect myself to other women – the women who (potentially) owned these clothes before me, who (potentially) sewed the clothes, washed them, ironed them, or sold them in the fashion store. This effect had to be explained, while the pink suit doesn’t need to be explained, it is obviously a costume that has something to do with feminity and performance.




The preparation continues with the measuring of the size of the monument (with my steps) and measuring a space of the same size next to the monument, which is marked with strings. Through using this separated space, I make sure not to vandalise the monument and to have space for new ideas, inspired by the existing monument. I arrange my materials within the Transformance space.




full documentation video of the Transformance Experiment with the Statue is available here:




Next is the entrance into the Transformance space, which is marked by the recitation of a poem addressing the monument (“my prayer of love” ) and of painting my hands and face with purple colour (purple as the colour of feminist movements marks the feminist transformer). I start with the deconstruction phase, which is one of the most important ones, where I use the audio collage of patriarchal statements form the monument. The audio collage has the effect that the performer can react to the patriarchal statements of the monument like reacting to a musical piece, through movement, drawing, talking along or against the phrases of the audio.




The next phase is the liminal stage, where I experiment further with transmedial practice, following the protocol, which includes experiments to create opposite extremes specific to the patriarchal structures of the monument. I elaborate further on the emerging femonumental practices using ‘What if…’ sentences. The transition into the new/exit asks me to choose some elements of the femonumental practices to highlight and exit the Transformance space with the poem.




The whole Transformance process is filmed and photographed. Experience showed that I get the most useful material, if my assistant focuses mainly on filming during the Transformance, switching between total view and close-ups, following my movements. After the Transformance, we stage photographs for the overpaintings with a clear focus on what kind of pictures I need for those.




The Transformances takes place without invited audience, just with by-passers who sometimes stop for a minute to watch. My assistant hands them information flyers and informs them about what is happening.


[1]FEMonumental ideas are ideas for FEMonumental practices that come up during the Transformance Experiments. I choose some of them to develop them into FEMonumental Practices in the Visual Explorations.

Artistic Research Practices

Line 1

Performative, bodily& spatial Exploration

a) Exploration Experiment with the Test for Patriarchal Structures

b) Transformance Experiment - deconstruct and transform patriarchal Structures

c) Performative FEMonument - live performance with audience

Go to the Documentation of the Exploration Experiment of the Chapel

Go to the Documentation of the Exploration Experiment of the Statue

Go to the Documentation of the Transformance Experiment of the Chapel

Go to the Documentation of the Transformance Experiment of the Statue

Excerpt from the documentation video

Line 2

Visual Exploration

a) Movie Making - creation of FEMonumental Practices

b) Overpainting - creation of FEMonumental Practices

c) Text-Based Paintings - visualising reflective thoughts and imaginations

 Line 2: Visual Exploration


The visual exploration uses documentation material (videos, photographs, audio recordings) from the above-mentioned live explorations to elaborate on, experiment with and create new FEMonumental practices for the specific monument through visual methods. The visual exploration happens through Movie Making, Overpainting of photographs that come from the performative parts of line one and text-based painting.

Excerpt from the documentation video

Line 3

Participative Experiments

a) FEMonumental Guide - an Audio-Guide to transform patriarchal monuments for artists

> creation of the FEMonumental Collection


All the knowledge and ideas gained in the first two performative experiments and in all visual explorations were merged together to create the Performative FEMonument, the third part of the performative exploration line.

The text-based paintings are an experimental layer of reflection and imagination towards the FEMonumental practices expressed in the Movie Making and in the Overpaintings, relating and belonging to a specific movie or Overpainting. They are based on different writings that emerged in the Movie Making and the Overpainting processes. The texts are painted in a format and size that resembles the movie projection or the Overpaintings. Through painting the words with acrylic colour and brushes onto paper, fabric or canvas, the words appear ‘alive’ and personal and get the same importance and space like the FEMonumental practices themselves.


The Text-based paintings that belong to the Fluffy Softness movie are based on a reflective writing process that followed the Movie Making, voicing the patriarchal thoughts towards (and the degradation of) the FEMonumental practice in my mind. These writings entail the imagined voice of a little patriarch sitting in my head, the patriarchally-shaped thought of myself towards my work and the feminist answers towards it. I painted the reworked text onto a big canvas that resembles almost the size of the projection of the movie. The audience should be able to read the text while watching the movie to reflect on their own internalised patriarchal thoughts that are triggered by the FEMonumental practice.  In an earlier experiment, I put the patriarchal thoughts into the shape of the Monument, for the text to perform the monument.

The text-based painting ‘patriarchal thoughts towards fluffy softness’, Acrylic paint on canvas.


The Text-based paintings that belong to the Overpaintings are an extension of the FEMonumental practices of the Overpaintings, inviting the viewer to imagine to be IN the Overpainting and in this imaginative world where a FEMonumental practice like this exists. The texts emerged during the painting process as I reflected on the painting and the ideas that came up during it. 

What if our monuments would invite us to be gentle and sensitive, to let go of the patriarchal expectations to be strong and brave?

What if the monuments of our leaders would truly serve the people?

What if our leaders would truly serve the people?

For the Overpaintings, I use painting, drawing and writing on photographs (printed on water colour paper, size 30x40 cm) of the Transformances. The first overpaintings with photographs of the Transformance of the chapel were experiments on what FEMonumental narrations emerge from drawing on photographs from different stages of the Transformance. The photographs where my female body is visible in relation to the chapel triggered the visualisation of patriarchal structures between body and monument through painting.Whereas photographs from the liminal stage made me elaborate on the idea of a monument for anger, that arose in this phase as an answer to the patriarchal depiction of the ‘perfect’ woman (mother mary) as caring, gentle and serving the male figures in her live, being quiet and nice; a woman who suppresses her energy, her needs and her capabilities.


Resulting from those experiments, the following overpaintings focus on the relation between female body and monument. The photographs are consciously staged for that purpose and then selected according to the FEMonumental idea that I want to elaborate on through them. For the idea ‘what if the statue would be lying on the ground?’ I chose photos where I could create the illusion of the statue lying on the ground through turning the photo around and overpainting the background. The concrete FEMonumental practices emerged through the painting process.

‘Serving the people’ is the feminist interpretation of the man who serves his fatherland (as is written on the pedestal), where the man serves all people, but not through fighting but through serving food. ‘To the gentle daughters’ is based on the reversed meaning of the inscription on the pedestal ‘to the brave sons’ and becomes a monument to lie on, to touch.


Movie Making:

I use the recorded materials (visual and audio) from the Transformance as well as specifically made recordings (visual and audio) to elaborate on specific FEMonumental ideas. In the video editing process, I experiment with colours, colouring the videos, changing their texture and layering several screens over each other, to connect the existing monument with the FEMonumental idea (for example ‘fluffy softness’). For the Fluffy Softness video, I created an audio-collage as main story line and edited the videos accordingly, to fit to the narration of the audio. I played with repetition, to generate an atmosphere where the viewer gets a little bit bored and sinks into the ‘fluffy softness’ more and more, focussing on the feelings this evokes.


The aesthetical and performative choices of the Fluffy Softness FEMonumental practice transform the following specific patriarchal attributes of the Statue:


a)   >  the materiality of the monument: hard, cold stone and bronze is transformed into fluffy and soft textiles; the bronze coat of the statue with its soft forms is transformed into real soft fluffy textile


b)   >  the form of commemorating: the static, unapproachable, elevated statue is transformed into a moving, wearable performative practice


c)    >  the dedication to brave, fighting, violent men is transformed into the dedication to softness, sensitivity and gentleness


d)   >  the patriarchal celebration of actions of domination and violence is transformed into the celebration of actions of empathy (hugs, soft and gentle touch)


Watch the full movie here:


I create separate documentation videos of the performative explorations from the first line of research. For these I use split screen editing to show several phases of the process at the same time and combine close-ups with total views. To highlight and describe the phases and emerged ideas, I lay text phrases over the screens. The separation of documentation video and FEMonumental-practices-movie, as well as the editing techniques, emerged from the first movie experiments.


Line 3: Participative Experiments

The participative experiments test the developed methods of lines one and two with artists. Here I create tools that come out of my working method to be used with other artists. The tools are collected in a digital FEMonumental Guide.

Excerpt from the movie 'fluffy softness'

to the gentle daugthers. Conni Holzer 2023. Acrylic colour  on art print (Hahnemühle William Turner paper), 30x40 cm. Photograph by Nina Lyne Gangl.

Installation of the text-based paintings at the PPS Graduation Exhibition in Tilburg, June 2023. Left: text-based painting to the Fluffy Softness Movie, right: Text-based paintings with the Overpaintings.

Serving the people. Conni Holzer 2023. Acrylic colour and pencil on art print (Hahnemühle William Turner paper), 30x40 cm. Photograph by Nina Lyne Gangl.

2 The Test for Patriarchal Structures

1 Introduction

3 Create your own FEMonumental Practice

The FEMonumental Guide


Due to practical and timely reasons, I decided to focus on participative experiments with artists with basic knowledge on feminist theory. For these experiments, I developed an online toolbox, the Guide to FEMonumental Practices. This Do-it-yourself workshop contains three audio files and two worksheets, free to download by the participants. Along the audio files, which contain an introduction, the Test for Patriarchal Structures and instructions to create one’s own FEMonumental ideas, the participants transform a public monument of their choice. The participants send their worksheets and documentation material of their FEMonumental process to me, to create a collection of FEMonumental practices in various socio-cultural contexts. The FEMonumental Guide is designed in a way that questions the body, which is using it concerning its overlapping forms of subordination or privilege. Through the various FEMonumental inquiries and ideas, I strive towards an intersectional queer feminist collection of FEMonumental practices. This is the beginning of my collection:

FEMonumental Transformance by Petra Van Aken

with FEMonumental Guide version1

in Utrecht, Netherlands

monument 1: Statue of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, Wilhelminapark

monument 2: equastrian statue of Saint Willibrordus, Janskerkhof

monument 3 (Transformance planned): Fountain Feest der muzen (Celebration of the muse), Lucasbolwerk

What are the main ideas behind your FEMonumental practice?

1.Statue of Queen Wilhelmina: She must behave like a queen, actually like a king - a man and not showing her emotions. (my memory) That's why I step into her shoes and let her show the emotion I think she felt when she was forced to flee the Netherlands in the 2nd world war.

2.It is very noticeable that Wilhelmina is at eye level. And the man on horseback (equastrian statue of a Saint) on a huge pedestal. He is unreachable and lonely, I think. I want to make him accessible so that People can see up close and I also want to give him the opportunity to descend and be among the People less lonely I think. That's why I gave him/us an escalator.