Marge Monko studied photography at the Estonian Academy of Arts and at the University of Applied Arts, Vienna. She works with photography, video and installation. Her works are often inspired by historical images and influenced by theories of psychoanalysis, feminism and visual culture.
For her new work Lucy in the Sky (2017), commissioned especially for the exhibition Summer of Love, Monko looks back to the time when the hippie movement gained its momentum. One issue that is inevitable, in this context, is that of contraception. What was the role of birth control pill in a practice of free love? Carl Djerassi, one of the scientists behind the pill, which was legalised in the United States in 1960, asserts that the Summer of Love would have happened with or without the pill.
However, half a century later, women in numerous countries still have to fight for their reproductive rights. In addition to abortion, many don't have access to oral contraceptive pills. Djerassi has coined the terms 'contraceptive hardware and software'. He explains that, 'Contraceptive hardware is the method we use for birth control, whether it's the pill, or abortion, or abstinence, or whatever it is'. On the other hand, 'The software is the cultural, economic, legal, political, public-health issues – women's rights more than any other...'
In 1967, the so-called Neuwirth law – named after its main supporter, Lucien Neuwirth – was passed in the French parliament, legalising the oral contraceptive pill. Discussions were also held in the Vatican, but the Catholic Church still hasn't approved the pill. In 2015 and 2016, the organisation Women on Web sent drones to deliver emergency contraceptive pills over the borders of Poland and Northern Ireland, predominantly Catholic countries.
The work Lucy in the Sky (The More I Make Love, the More I Want to Make Revolution) consists of photo wallpaper, vinyl wall graphics, magazines and custom-cut acrylic. The wallpaper presents two adverts from the 1960s depicting couples holding cigarettes. 'There is a sexual connotation to smoking: the glamour of it; the phallic shape of the cigarette; the post-coital pleasure of smoking.' The vinyl wall graphics show the history of birth control pill legislation worldwide. The covers of French magazine Noir et Blanc from 1966 to '70, placed behind the perforated acrylic glass, relate to debates around reproductive issues.
The first part of the artwork title references the song Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (1967) by The Beatles, as well as the 'other' pill of the 1960s –LSD; the second part is quoting the slogan Plus je fais l'amour, plus j'ai envie de faire la révolution. Plus je fais la révolution, plus j'ai envie de faire l'amour, emblazoned on a wall at the Sorbonne in 1968.
Lucy in the Sky (detail), 2017
Photo, wall paper, pigment prints, custom cut acrylic glass
Courtesy of the artist