Luxembourgh Times

From Instagrammable cakes to Luxlait posters

Choose between two exhibitions to spend a wintery afternoon

“We can have it all - Do fem bots still have time for a burn-out?” exhibition

“We can have it all - Do fem bots still have time for a burn-out?” exhibition © Photo credit: Neumunster Abbaye

Natalia Pikna

Have your pick between an exhibition exploring the empty promise of women's empowerment at Neumunster and, for the more light-hearted, a display of quaint and comical posters exhibited at the Luxembourg City Museum.

At Neumunster Abbaye, artists Nora Koenig and Anne Simon have put together an impressive and concise exhibition titled “We can have it all - Do fem bots still have time for a burn-out?”. The main premise of the exhibition is to explore “the myth” of reconciling “career and family” for present-day women.

The result is a bizarre exploration of all aspects of womanhood, pulled at by all sides whether it be by the expectations of having a career, motherhood, beauty, societal norms or the falsehood of an authentic social media presence.

It takes its form in distorted images, an ominous soundscape, satirical inscriptions and quotes from media theory.

The exhibition follows the loose narration of a woman in a strange world, which is only a slight exaggeration of our own. A robotic, Siri-like, voice tells the story with announcements such as “And on the 7th day, she finally managed to create the perfectly Instagrammable cake.”

The quadratic space also guides you through explorations of motherhood and success, “girl-bossing”, and the hold self-optimisation and its promotion on social media have on contemporary, pseudo-feminist culture. Only the dark side of society is present here. But hey, as the voice tells you, less income (thanks to the pay-gap) means fewer taxes to pay, right?

In contrast, the City Museum of Luxembourg has put together, along with help from the public, a retrospective of posters from its collection. The pleasant and inclusive concept consists of input from visitors, museum employees, mediators, schools, experts and associations working with the homeless.

A short introduction about the history of posters is followed by a selection of 100 items that teach us something about Luxembourg’s evolution and the development of graphic design over time. They offer the chance to glimpse into the past, with some posters bearing the painful mark of a visibly different age and others unlocking archives of beautiful artwork and skill for the visitor.

Still, others are cartoonish, instructive, even absurd, or a mix of all of the above. You will find innocently comedic posters, such as a Luxembourgish railway company advertisement from 1905 reminding us that it used to take more than six hours to get to Paris by train (although if there was a similar one for Belgian destinations, we might not find it as amusing and wonder why the travel time remains the same).

Luxlait commercials from the fifties are especially comical, with their milk celebrated as a synonym for safety on the roads (as opposed to alcohol, of course). A surprisingly instructive and amusing exhibition, it could have nonetheless omitted the somewhat primitive comments scattered around the exhibition that add little to the experience.

However, the effort to wholeheartedly include the public is honourable and the posters are a delight for the eyes during a snowy afternoon.