“All I could do was to offer you an opinion upon one minor point — a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction; and that, as you will see, leaves the great problem of the true nature of woman and the true nature of fiction unsolved. … But in order to make some amends I am going to do what I can to show you how I arrived at this opinion about the room and the money.”
“In the first place, to have a room of her own, let alone a quiet room or a soundproof room, was out of the question, unless her parents were exceptionally rich or very noble, even up to the beginning of the nineteenth century. Since her pin money, which depended on the goodwill of her father, was only enough to keep her clothed, she was debarred from such alleviations as came even to Keats or Tennyson or Carlyle, all poor men, from a walking tour, a little journey to France, from the separate lodging which, even if it were miserable enough, sheltered them from the claims and tyrannies of their families. Such material difficulties were formidable; but much worse were the immaterial. The indifference of the world which Keats and Flaubert and other men of genius have found so hard to bear was in her case not indifference but hostility. The world did not say to her as it said to them, Write if you choose; it makes no difference to me. The world said with a guffaw, Write? What’s the good of your writing?”
Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own, 1929.
Virginia Woolf’s lecture and essay A Room of One’s Own, written between the two World Wars, in which she describes with breathtaking clarity the impossibility of female creativity due to the material and spatial conditions of women’s lives, is still relevant and topical today.
In mohit.art NOTES #8, our third and final issue on questions of space, guest edited once again by curator and researcher Zohreh Deldadeh, we look at different spaces in art: exhibition, private, and public spaces. The issue deals with these in relation to the space given to women (artists) — the space that women expand, transgress, and claim for themselves.
Throughout 2023, mohit.art NOTES is following three editorial themes: balance, space, and desire. The primary line of inquiry is: How and what do artists and cultural practitioners contribute in times of global and regional clashes, dramatic sociocultural developments, geopolitical instabilities, and personal distress?
“I think it is the limits that create possibilities for us — that enact and enliven the imagination, and sometimes even give us the motivation to work.” In their conversation “A Place In Between,” artists Nasim Goli and Mahsa Mohammadi, who both live and work in Tehran, discuss how established and public art spaces, such as the white cube and the gallery space, as well as alternative art spaces that exist on social media and in the private sphere, relate to their work as female artists. Their conversation departs from a white cube installation and exhibition space that Goli has been running in her apartment since the summer of 2021, inviting visitors into her private living space to see her work.
Zohreh Deldadeh, Hannah Jacobi, “A Room of One’s Own: Editorial,” mohit.art NOTES #8 (December 2023); published on www.mohit.art, November 24, 2023.